I've been pondering for some time the amount of time it takes to maintain all the gardens at Chez Buffy. In particular, the herb garden has been on my mind. I've worried that I should consider closing it down because it's a good sized drain on my summer hours.
My youngest sister came to visit for two days and joined me in the gardens on Friday morning. I had several chores that needed my attention and the purpose of her visit, in part, was to give me a hand. It was also a chance for us to chat and catch up before the school year claims all her time.
I was fretting about the fact that she makes greater use of her herb garden. It's smaller, and less formal, but very functional. She asked me what I got out of the garden. Did I feel the only purpose of the garden was to give us herbs for our summer cooking?
Of course, she was right. When I'm at my kitchen sink, it's a joy to look out over the garden, and see the plants that I have been tending. We look at the contrasts of texture and color, and watch as each of the plants comes into it's season, spreading out and filling up it's spot.
I use some of the herbs, and grow others because of their scent or their shape or color. Right now I have two small purple basil plants in the front corner of the basil bed. I probably won't use that basil in a pesto, but I love the contrast in color and size to the sweet basil behind it.
Some plants are old friends, coming back year after year. Others are newcomers which might remain for a season. Every now and then I slip in flowers like petunias or coreopsis or gallardia. This year there are two miniature pear-shaped tomatoes and a cherry tomato. For the past three years one corner of the garden has been filled with lemon scented herbs.
I've taken a series of pictures of the herb garden from the same window......a winter scene with the raised beds covered in snow, looking rather like moguls on a ski run, and a March picture that shows the structure of the bed before most of the plants have woken up. The May picture shows lush green mounds, the garden at it's most beautiful. June shows the yarrow in bloom, with flat plates of gold, backed up by the purple clematis climbing the arbor. In July, the garden is mature, the coneflower in bloom at the back, the garlic chives sending up bloom stalks. And as we get to August, things start to loose their freshness to the constant heat of summer.
Obviously, I love the garden. Perhaps it's productivity is not the question. Perhaps the hours it takes to maintain it can be justified simply by the joy it brings. Whatever the reason, I think it's safe for one more year.