Six on Saturday / from my journal

I treasure my early mornings on the courtyard, in the shady area behind the yew hedge where I enjoy iced coffee with my morning prayers. From here, I look out over the herb garden and the perennial beds beyond. Earlier garden designers and landscapers referred to these large beds as “pleasure gardens” as opposed to a working garden– the kitchen garden of culinary herbs and vegetables. I used to cultivate a kitchen garden during our early years here, something like this French potager design . . .

. . . then I decided one year to add four small Old Roses, each to center a quadrant. Those roses grew and grew, up to five feet, and all but took over. They left just enough space for a few herbs, the ones I use most often in the kitchen. Today, with the addition of a Luytens-style bench arbor, my herb garden is more for pleasure. I do keep sage and thyme, chives and parsley for snipping. This combination is workable for an 80-year-old woman.

This summer I am indulging my fancy for the aromatics–lavender, lemon verbena, Moroccan mint, sweet woodruff–all in planters grouped on the courtyard, within easy reach, all with a useful purpose.

English Lavender

Of what use is lavender than to freshen the air? It adds a lovely note to summer drinks, embedded in ice cubes, or stirred in pound cake batter or shortbread cookie dough as Victorian tea pleasures. And the purple blossoms lend fragrant grace notes to a courtyard table. Honey bees visit early in the day to kiss each blossom.

Lemon Verbena

In Gone With the Wind, Lemon Verbena was the signature fragrance of Scarlett O’Hara’s mother, Ellen. I can see, or rather smell, why when I crush a leaf between thumb and fingers to produce a whiff of strong lemony sweetness. There ought to be a manufactured air freshener made of verbena, the star of the lemon scented plant world. Maybe there is. There is, however, a lemon verbena herbal tea, rather expensive but probably well worth the taste test.

Box of Lemon Verbena Tea Bags

For each tall glass of freshly made lemonade, I like to snip a stem to double the sensual pleasure with each sip on a summer afternoon. It’s certainly stronger than lemon balm, a gentler herb I grow in the garden.

Moroccan Mint

There is no mistaking the strength of Moroccan Mint in iced tea, or hot, for that matter. I’m enjoying a tall glass right now as I write. To make the drink Moroccan Tea, Moroccan Mint is combined with green tea and sugar. This beverage is popular in the Arabian nations and often takes on a ceremonial purpose, especially when the tea is made for guests by the man of the house.

In mid-to-late summer Moroccan mint produces lilac-colored whorls of blooms on spikes that attract bees and butterflies.

Sweet Woodruff

Does sweet woodruff have a purpose beyond looking pretty, nestled next to mint and lemon verbena in a planter? Its spreading mat of tiny star-shaped leaves lend a delicate counterpoint to the mint’s sturdy tooth-edged leaves. Tiny white blossoms appear in small clusters. In woodland gardens it spreads by creeping roots as a perennial groundcover, but I’m afraid the climate here is too dry to keep woodruff going. The fragrant dried leaves smell like vanilla and is used to flavor teas, fruiting drinks, sachets, and potpourris.

There are today’s Six on Saturday. What are your favorite aromatics in your garden?

Author: www.rosesintherainmemoir.wordpress.com

Celebrating just over fifty years of holy matrimony, I am blessed to be a mother of two and grandmother of seven. Much of my writing speaks to the culture and tradition of the Deep South, where I spent the first thirty-five years of my life before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. As a poet and essayist, I’ve published both online and in print media. I launched this INVITATION TO THE GARDEN blog the summer of 2017 on WordPress.com. I look forward to hearing your stories, too!

2 thoughts on “Six on Saturday / from my journal”

    1. Thank you. For me, gardening began as childhood play in my Mother’s gardens where she “allowed” me to work with sticky petunias. Her roses were definitely off limits. Our north Florida summer climate was conducive to growing things in rich, black, humus soil. She taught me how to deadhead summer annuals and to check tomatoes for ripeness. Mostly I am self-taught, also I did study the magazine articles and, as an adult, various great books on garden design and history.

      Liked by 1 person

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