That Time of Year Again

Well, it’s that time of the year again. What was supposed to be my lavender-bordered herb garden has evolved into a pleasant mishmash of rosemary, tarragon, oregano, and two varieties of sage combined with pink Monarda (bee balm), yellow Coreopsis, all shades of pinkish red Echinacea (coneflowers), Rudbeckia (gloriosa daisies) and a white heirloom rose bush—all on the verge of blooming within the next week. Oh what a showy splash of pink, red, yellow, yellow/brown, and white those flowers will make.

Okay, so maybe I march to the beat of an indifferent gardener. Several years ago my friend J remarked that his daughter had laid out her herb garden in a geometric design, one she kept manicured at all times. Hmm, that will never be my herb garden … although it did start out in a somewhat orderly fashion and remained so for several years.

But then one spring a single Echinacea plant popped up, a volunteer spread from the seed of a nearby flower bed. Since Echinacea has medicinal value in preventing or treating common colds, I figured it belonged with the herbs so I let it stay. After the plant bloomed, I should’ve removed the seed heads but I let them stay too. More Echinacea popped up the following year. Then came the one or two volunteer Rudbeckia, which made a nice contrast to the Echinacea so I let both varieties stay. The Coreopsis I planted myself because it hadn’t thrived in its three previous locations. Now it does in the herb garden. The heirloom rose bush we (as in Hubby D) planted along with the original herbs—to add some color and character. If only I could remember to trim it back at the appropriate time, I wouldn’t have to deal with all those thorny issues.

Next to the herb garden stepping stones lead into our yew-bordered kitchen/dining/family room patio An orderly patio, yes, with its umbrella-covered table, four chairs, two hummingbird feeders, and container gardening—strawberry pots filled with sedum, hens and chicks, plus garlic chives that I scissor-cut into tiny pieces and add to my French scrambled eggs and cream cheese while they’re slowly cooking. The potted thyme came back again; the Italian parsley plants I buy new each year since they take forever to start from seed. Which is not the case with basil. Those perky seedlings in rectangular boxes will soon need thinning—little plants I’ll transplant into other containers. By season’s end if time and ambition permit, perhaps I’ll spend a few hours making pesto and freezing it for soups and sauces later on.

As for my three big containers (recycled from swimming pool filters cut in half), the salad greens are thriving. Which was not the case three weeks ago when an early spring planting produced a paltry few plants consisting of two Italian lettuces and spicy arugula plus the dependable black-seeded Simpson, all smothered by so many weeds it made for a nearly impossible situation. Waste not, want not, that’s me. I dug out the good plants and set them aside before getting rid of a two-inch layer of soil and weeds. After Hubby D added fresh soil, I replanted those set aside and sprinkled a generous helping of more seeds. Three weeks later: Hel-lo, my lovely patch of crowded lettuce that requires constant thinning—a task I willingly perform each day, tiny roots and all, the entire delicate plants make wonderful salads, alone or combined with other varieties of lettuce.

The hummingbirds have returned to their feeders—one at the kitchen garden window; the other, our family room window. And in the well-manicured beds beneath those two feeders several Echinacea and Rudbeckia plants are ready to bloom. Volunteers that came up a few years ago so I let them stay.

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About Loretta Giacoletto

Loretta Giacoletto is an American writer of family sagas, mysteries, and contemporary fiction, all of which contain elements of crime. She divides her time between the St. Louis Metropolitan area and Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks where she writes fiction, essays, and her bi-monthly blog, Loretta on Life, while her husband Dominic cruises the waters for bass and crappie. Their five children have left the once chaotic nest but occasionally return for her to-die-for ravioli and roasted peppers topped with garlic-laden bagna càuda. An avid traveler, she has visited numerous countries in Europe and Asia but Italy remains her favorite, especially the area from where her family originates: the Piedmont region near the Italian Alps. - See more at: http://www.loretta-giacoletto.com
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