Saturday 31 May 2014

In my garden . . .

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 . . .

I have several varieties of thyme in my garden . . .  the herb of courage is thyme.  The patio at the back of my mother's house is covered with thyme and each step upon the old moss covered stones and bricks brings that delicate herby scent into your remembrance . . . the scent of roasting turkey and herby stuffing.   I have both regular thyme and lemon thyme.   The lemon thyme goes wonderfully with fish, naturally . . . but it is also a pretty special with a simple dessert such as a panacotta.  I think it is one of my most beloved and much used herbs as it goes in just about anything.  In soups and stews . . .   salads, chowders, stuffings . . . with vegetables (haricots verts love it!) or in herb butters to serve on steaks or chops or fish.  I pan fry my cod in butter along with springs of thyme and it is just beautiful when it is done.  It's also lovely pressed  between the pages of books . . . and when you happen-chance upon a dried and pressed spring during the winter months, it brings to the senses a delightful summer remembrance . . .

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


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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!  ♥♥♥


  1. I love my herb garden! Like you I find it so rewarding being able to step outside and bring in some fresh herbs for the cooking. It becomes all the more lovely when you see the prices charged for the packs of fresh herbs in the supermarkets!

  2. I know Tracey!! It's almost criminal what they charge, and they don't last any time at all either!

  3. I am trying to grow my own herbs. Marie would you believe me when I tell you I have a basil that is four years old. The bees love it so I haven't pulled it out. For the life of me I cannot grow mint or coriander.

  4. Planted herbs, but Maine weather has not had enough Sun. First visit, love your post.

  5. We have several herbs that come up every year here but this year I had to plant some of those that don't winter over as I love the taste. I've got some rosemary, sage, basil and parsley in pots outside the back door. I love their fresh flavor. Hope your Saturday is a super one!

  6. Marie your gardens are wonderful..oh pat that man on the back:)

  7. You are lucky Suzan, you live in a climate which is pretty warm most of the year. Mind you, your summers are wicked hot! I would not like that very much!

    Welcome Yvonne! Nice to meet a new visitor! I have been to Maine many times through the years!

    I hope you have a super Saturday too Pam! I will be popping over to your page soon, and hoping to see how you got on with your wee one you were taking care of this week!

    I know Monique! He deserves a medal! He does such a lovely job!

  8. Thank you Marie; for all of the explanations of the herbs that you use. I haven't tried to plant them but I would love to use more in them in my cooking. Actually, I need to just breeze over and have some of your delicious recipes. You thoughts are just enchanting and the pictures are the perfect touch.
    Blessings to you dear friends and hugs too!

  9. LeAnn, thank you so very much for your friendship and faithfulness in commenting. I have been very slack lately. I need to be better at this. My time just seems to evaporate. I wish you could just breeze over and we could have a nice long visit together! xxoo

  10. Marie it is too hot in my opinion to grow much over the middle of summer. I burn in about five minutes and many of the plants die back. We really cannot give them the water they need as drought still hovers over us.

  11. It seems it is feast and famine in so many places Suzan! Another sign of the latter days I think! xx


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