My humble garden / by Suzanne

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Once, over a long-distance phone call, I told my dearly departed Dad I had a garden. After arriving for a visit, months later, he took one look in our back yard and said, “Where's your garden?”

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For him, a garden meant not just plantings of annuals and perennials, and a few pots of herbs and flowers, but rows and rows of vegetables. Like the amazing garden my mother grew and tended to entirely on her own in the backyard of our family home.

I love the whole idea of it, and I'm not afraid of the work involved, but I don't grow vegetables in my garden. That would require displacing the perennials or tearing up the lawn. And then where would we put our tables and chairs for the outdoor dinner parties we like to host? Not willing to sacrifice the space. Not just yet.

But here's a look at some of what I do have.

The basil I planted is doing really well and it's only mid June. Is it because of the eggshells? I have three varieties: Italian, sweet, and Thai. Not quite enough to make pesto but plenty to pinch and pluck and place on an open face goat cheese sandwich with tomato slices and drizzled with olive oil, or to flavour a coconut milk curry.

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I planted two kinds of parsley: Italian or flat leaf (my favourite) and curly leaf. Good for making tabouleh or adding to chimichuri. I've got plenty of mint; three kinds of peppermint and a pot of spearmint.

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And I almost forgot, lemon balm! It's from the mint family, too. I love the smell and, although I didn't harvest it last year, I intend to make good use of it this fall. Many believe lemon balm has calming effects so they take it for anxiety, sleep problems, and restlessness. It's also used for digestive problems. I'll use the flavorful leaves to brew tea, flavour fruit or green salad, and season fish, or maybe include its stems in a summer bouquet.

As you know, mint is a spreader so I'll have to keep an eye on the stuff not contained in pots. But I'm hoping the mint I planted around our compost will spread like crazy and conceal the not-so-attractive yet very useful bin. There should be lots to add to salads, and to make mojitos and tea. We drink lots of mint tea. Which reminds me of a funny story…

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We were out of mint tea, and Simon noticed me going out into the garden and cutting fresh mint leaves whenever we wanted to brew a pot. One night I was out and, wanting mint tea, he decided to do the same. When I came home I found him enjoying a pot of tea he brewed and he offered me a cup. One sip and realized it was not mint tea at all, but had been made with basil. He had harvested the wrong herb! Moral of the story: we really need to get a back porch light.  The poor man was snipping leaves in the dark.

I've added a small pot of lavender to the mix. It's honestly one of my favourite scents. No blooms yet but still early days. And that yellow pot you see, it's a clay pot I spray painted years ago. I love the patina.

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What would a garden be without flowers? Too late to show you the solomon’s seal or bleeding heart, but a perfect time to show you peonies and marigolds.

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My love of the humble marigold persists.

The ones in this window box from last year reseeded themselves. Hooray! I wonder what shade of orange or yellow they will be?

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And geraniums! Not yet abundant with blooms, but soon. I will forever have geraniums because they remind me of my mom.

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The day lilies haven't bloomed yet nor has the phlox. They come later. But did I tell you what I did with some of my hosta? Instead of buying new plants for the front porch, I thinned my hosta and put them in pots. 

Last but not least, my constant gardening companion. Somehow the garden wouldn't be the same without his peaceful loving presence.

How does your garden grow?

xo