Tag Archives: herb garden

The Fulfillment of the Promise


What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade. ~Gertrude Jekyll

It has been a beautiful spring so far in Southeastern Wisconsin. Yes, we have had some chilly air here and there. But overall things are right about where they should be. I find some comfort in that. After enduring winter’s bone-chilling cold and colorless landscape, it’s feels so good to know that once again Spring has arrived and the promise of another season of growth and life is now here.

The spiritual message of all this Spring wonder is not lost on me. I’m reminded of life eternal each year, and that only through death can we truly gain life. I don’t want to forget that, even in the giddy excitement of planning and planting the garden and observing the world as it comes back to life.

Here is some photographic evidence that the month of June is here at my house in all her glory. I’m sure the story is similar in countless backyards everywhere. By the way, you don’t have to have a garden to enjoy the sight of wild asparagus on the side of the highway or gorgeous green leaves upon the trees. Go find your own evidence, pretty much anywhere you look right now. And enjoy! It only comes once a year.

A boy with a frog. Love these critters in the garden where they eat slugs and other bugs I don't want hanging around.

A boy with a frog. Love these critters in the garden where they eat slugs and other bugs I don’t want hanging around.

Found this photo on my camera. My kids picked these radishes and then photographed them. Wonder where they would get such an idea?

Found this photo on my camera. My kids picked these radishes and then photographed them. Wonder where they would get such an idea?

A peek at the red orach which reseeded itself from last year's planting. The color is outstanding.

A peek at the red orach which seeded itself from last year’s planting. The color is outstanding.

Giant stalks of rhubarb awaiting some yummy recipes.

Giant stalks of rhubarb awaiting some yummy recipes.

Strawberries setting fruit.

Strawberries setting fruit.

What a beautiful crop of spinach we are enjoying this year. The best ever.

What a beautiful crop of spinach we are enjoying this year. The best ever.

Chive flowers are now open and attracting something new this year--honey bees! I wonder if a neighbor has a hive?

Chive flowers are now open and attracting something new this year–honey bees! I wonder if a neighbor has a hive?

This year's tomatoes freshly potted. Here's hoping for a good tomato year.

This year’s tomatoes freshly potted. Here’s hoping for a good tomato year.

Patio with herb garden. Perennial herbs are now up and getting leafy. I should be able to start enjoying all of them soon.

Patio with herb garden. Perennial herbs are now up and getting leafy. I should be able to start enjoying all of them soon.

This raised bed will be featuring the following this year: garlic, onions, borage, spinach, arugula (already done), red orach, kale, Swiss chard, eggplant, marigolds, dill, and one volunteer head of lettuce.

This raised bed will be featuring the following this year: garlic, onions, borage, spinach, arugula (already done), red orach, kale, Swiss chard, eggplant, marigolds, dill, and one volunteer head of lettuce.

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Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Time


What a difference a year makes.  The span of time between putting my first herb seedlings into a freshly filled raised bed and harvesting from second year plants is relatively brief–just over one year.  But for an herb, that one year makes the difference between infancy and adulthood.
In spring of 2009, I recruited my husband to build a raised bed to be used specifically for herbs.  Only 18 inches wide, it’s easily accessed from either side, and herbs have room to spill over the sides if necessary.  It also provides a nice border for the small patio garden where most of my garden grows.

Newly built raised bed with seedlings.

 

In 2009, I planted parsley, chives, dill, sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender, oregano and basil in the raised bed.  All grew, though some did better than others.  The rosemary never grew taller than six inches, and remained thin.   The dill did fine for a few weeks but seemed to go to seed very quickly, and since I did not sow a second or third crop we didn’t have any by the time other veggies were ready to harvest.

Overall, I was pleased with the abundance of parsley, chives, sage, lavender and oregano.  That summer I came to know the herb garden and all of it’s smells and flavors.

First year herb garden mid-season.

But it was the following year in which the herb garden really came into it’s own.  Early spring saw chives shooting up through the snow.  Soon after, tiny green leaves began to grow on what looked like dead wood of thyme, oregano, sage and lavender. 

Rosemary and parsley did not survive the winter.  It’s just as well.  I found a new spot in the bed for the parsley and moved rosemary to a pot where it has been much happier.  Now the rosemary can come inside with me for the winter and be used in winter soups and sauces.

Potted rosemary can live indoors or out.

Year two was one of pruning back.  The sage became huge, almost tree-like in the way it became thick and woody, stems reaching all over the place.  Chives needed constant cutting.  In fact, by the end of the season I removed three plants, knowing I wouldn’t need them next year.  This could free up space for something new.

The best part of the herbs’ second year was the beautiful flowers.  All edible, all beautiful.  And they attracted the most interesting insects and butterflies to our garden.  I can’t wait till next year when the flower show begins again.

Herb garden, year two. Basil in nearby container.

Lavender flowers delighted us all season.

A sea of herbs.

I wonder what the herb garden will look like in its’ third year?  Will it overgrow its small space?  Will plants come back just as healthy?  Will I need to replant anything?  I especially wonder about that parsley.  Biennial, it should come back this spring if conditions are right.

Time will tell how the herb garden will grow.  After two years with it, I know this: I’ll never have a home without an herb garden again.  Herbs brighten up our food, look and smell great in the garden and are a conversation piece for guests to our home.  They attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  My kids can’t help but grab an herb and munch on it while they play outside.  We’ve come to appreciate our herb garden more than we could have imagined when we first set out.  I simply love my herb garden.