the proper care and feeding of green thumbs
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Speaking of purple plant pigments, the ones in opal basil are responsible for turning aromatic vinegars a beautiful shade of rose, I always look forward to preparing them during the summer.
For all of us who enjoy this lovely plant it will come as a shock that the Greeks believed the herb to be driving men to madness. It is associated with the basilisk and folk tales say one needs to curse and rant when planting it in order for it to grow, because it embodies hatred and anger and it’s born of scorpion’s poison.
For a good part of the summer the house is strewn with bunches of herbs hung up to dry. The children disapprove. The cat is reluctant to approach them. The surface below them gets messy.
I keep gathering the fragrant greens, excited by their fast growth in June, and tend to put off grinding and storing them in jars, a task which gets tedious after ten minutes.
By the time I finally resign myself to processing them, the bunches are crunchy and the herbs release their scent freely when crushed, trying to assert their flavors from a distance. The kitchen smells like mint, then thyme, then dill, then lovage, while, slowly, the jars get filled, labeled and stored neatly on the shelves in the pantry. Read more…
I can’t figure out the precise point when a fast spreading plant becomes a ground cover. Some, like ivy, periwinkle and the beautiful blue flowering plumbago in the picture, are quite obvious, others, like lily of the valley and sweet violets, take you by surprise, starting with a shy little clump in spring and filling the garden with their prolific progeny in one season.
I guess if we define as perennial ground cover any plant that fills up all the space it occupies, we can expand the list to include daylilies, beebalms, tickseed, irises, raspberry thickets and strawberry patches. Read more…