One of the things which I love most about the spring is watching the garden come back to life again . . . with colour and scent and activity. This past week has seen our bird feeders being inundated with fledgling sparrows, blackbirds and starlings. They are so much fun to watch . . .
Most of our garden is filled with plants that come back every year, and we do have a lot of wild flowers which we plant, that magically appear in new places each spring! Wild flowers are not only pretty to look at, but great for the environment . . . think bees, butterflies and of course birds.
Our chives at the moment are just a-buzzin' with bees. They seem to adore the chive blossoms. I wonder what that does to the taste of the honey, if anything . . . an intriguing thought indeed.
I love my kitchen herb garden most of all. It sits right outside my back door, within close proximity to my kitchen and cooking area. I am able to nip outside, rain or shine . . . and gather in whatever I need when I am cooking. An herb garden delights the senses . . . they are visually pleasing . . . intoxicatingly fragrant . . . and of course the tastes are amazing.
Herbs are steeped in superstitions and folklore. Over the years everyone from country women, to witches . . . to fairies have used them to cure everything from the broken heart to the broken toe, and everything in between. Symbols of courage, friendship, loyalty, romance and remembrance, you can grow them almost anywhere in a garden, or a pot . . . both formally or haphazardly . . . and indeed you will often find them growing wild in woodlands, in nooks and crannies on rock walls, on well trodden paths to the sea and the like. There is nothing more delightful than the smell of wild garlic or thyme wafting up to enrich the senses whilst on a country walk.
Most of my herbs return to delight me every year, but there are some, like the softer herbs such as basil and parsley, that I need to replace each spring. I think even were I to live in a sky high apartment complex . . . I would still have an herb garden, were it only a small one on the window sill . . .
Rosemary . . . for remembrance. We have an enormous rosemary bush which grows in the centre of our back garden. I can remember when I first moved over here to the UK and I realized that rosemary grew almost like a weed, in hedgerows and garden borders all around the UK. It likes the sun, does rosemary . . . and can get quite large. It doesn't get cold enough here in the UK for it to die out in the winter. I can pick mine all year round. The bees love it's blossoms . . . and lamb loves it's flavour. Beneath a shoulder of lamb in a roasting tin, it creates a natural trivet which keeps the meat from the bottom of the tin . . . serving a dual purpose as it also flavours the meat from the bottom up. It also makes a very wonderful herb brush to brush on butter, or meat drippings . . . onto roasting meat, fish or poultry. It has a somewhat strong flavour however, so a little bit goes a very long way . . . but used judiciously, it has a wonderful appeal and it makes a beautiful decoration . . .
Basil, which needs to be replaced each year . . . is the symbol of love and devotion . . . so lovely with tomatoes, cheese, pasta . . . in pesto. Then there is French Tarragon. I do so love my French Tarragon. It's leaves delicately flavour my cod-fish cakes, and of course it is a must in bearnaise sauce, so good with steaks. Mint, for virtue . . . a hardy perennial which must be kept in check or it can quite easily take over, but how very delightful the smell . . . refreshing and cool. I cannot help but press a leave between my fingers each time I pass. Classic with lamb and peas . . . and of course the perfect garnish for ice cold summer drinks and in teas . . .
Chives, coriander, sage, dill, marjoram, oregano . . . all of these grow in my garden along with parsley, and interspersed between them all are edible flowers . . . Nasturtiums, tasting of radish and so very colourful. Borage, with it's sweet blue flowers . . . Chamomile, perfect for tea . . . and of course my Lemon Verbena, which delights in a variety of ways. I love to make a syrup with it to brush over cakes and muffins, and it makes a lovely tea.
All of these things bring me such joy each year. I am so blessed to live in a place and climate where I can have these things growing right outside my door at my fingertips almost all year round . . . but never lovelier than in the Spring and summer months when they are at their very best. They just make me happy.
A thought to carry with you through today . . .
"' Just living is not enough,' said the butterfly.
'One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.'"
~Hans Christian Anderson
Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . . delicious Apple Crumble Tray Bake. Sweet squares, buttery and filled with apples to enjoy with an afternoon cuppa on a sunny Saturday . . .
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Wherever you go and whatever you do, I hope Saturday is very kind to you! ♥♥♥