While strolling through my neighbourhood, I recently came upon two rogue edibles, a basil plant and an amaranth that had escaped from front yard gardens nearby only to make a go at life in soiless conditions.
I found the basil growing in a crack between the curb and the road. An attempt to rescue it failed. That plant was rooted in there solidly! Basil are not the most forgiving herbs and can be a bit finicky about soil nutrition and water, so this find was a surprise.
I spotted the amaranth a few streets over growing out of the space between sidewalk blocks. This find comes as no surprise as amaranth can withstand a lot and their seeds (which are many) have the ability to scatter far and wide.
No doubt if you are growing even one sage plant this year, chances are great that you have enough of this strong herb to flavour a Thanksgiving stuffing so enormous that the Guinness People wouldn’t even bother showing up to authenticate its title. It would win a placement in the book and keep placing now and through eternity by default.
There are not enough people in the world to eat that side dish.
Recently I’ve been on a break of sorts. Naturally, the first thing I did to prepare for the break is stock up on books. I may have gone overboard. One of the books I purchased was “My Tuscan Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from the Castello di Vicarello,” a collection of Italian home cooking recipes by Aurora Baccheschi Berti. This is a beautiful book, full of warm and tempting photographs of sumptuous Italian treats. The focus is on simple, seasonal foods that will inspire you to use up the gleanings from your garden. I want to cook it all (although the truth is that I never will), but so far one recipe has stood out, and it isn’t even a recipe at all. It was simply instruction to take two sage leaves, sandwich a thin layer of anchovy paste in between, batter and fry. Apparently this is called, uccellini scappati or “birds that have flown away.
Are you intrigued? I sure was. I have fried sage leaves in butter. I have battered sage leaves in oil. I have even sandwiched sage leaves around cheese and fried that, but this is something different. Sage is a strong flavour, but so are anchovies. The two didn’t seem to cancel each other out, or create something too overwhelming to enjoy. They were delicious. Strongly flavoured, but harmonious.
They flew away, alright. Right into my mouth.
Oh dear. I really have been remiss in providing updates and photos of the garden in its first year. The last photo I posted was on June 29. We were headed to Denver and I wanted a record of it before I left. Until that time June was still a bit wet and sometimes cold. A heatwave struck while we were gone and the garden really took off from there.
This image functions as a good demonstration of just how dry gardening is in Denver without the benefit of a hose. This landscape is nothing more than a random scattering of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) with a few hot pink-flowered hollyhocks and dry land grasses thrown in. I’m not even sure it qualifies as a garden in the traditional meaning of the word since it looked to be completely untended and the product of a few resilient volunteer plants.
And yet it works. I’m sorry I didn’t capture it with the digital camera, but the silvery verbascum alongside tall, hot pink hollyhocks really made a stand-out pair. I was intrigued enough to ask our friend to stop the car and let me out so that I could take a few (or several) photos with all four of the cameras that I had in tow. I didn’t make that request for any of the “proper” gardens we saw. But then again, I am a sucker for the soft, statuesque grace of verbascum.
Another corner of my garden. This is fuzzy ‘Pineapple’ mint growing in a pot. I’ve resolved to grow all of my mint in pots this year. Contrary to reputation, mints behave rather well over at my community garden. The trick to keeping them under control seems to be growing them in less than ideal conditions. Plus, over there they have to fight against the wild and alpine strawberries for supreme dominance and guess who’s winning that war?
Here though, I expect mint to flourish and then some so I’m playing it safe for now. Everyone in pots!
The pretty floral design seen in the shot (above) is the top of a foot stool I found in the garbage the other night. Going out on garbage night around here is like going shopping! We’ve done well outfitting the garden with our neighbours’ discards.
The stool is red and the top is covered in this amazingly vibrant plastic mac-tac. I LOVE it! If the previous owner comes across this photo and realizes their mistake: I’m sorry but you can’t have it back.