Please forgive my tardiness with this week’s Herbaria. I took the photo last week, but haven’t had the time since to sit down and write the text. These things are becoming a record of my working life as well as the garden. If I were to continue doing them over time I would find that the weeks around mid-June are always the same. The rush to get lingering transplants in the ground amidst the struggle to stay on top of the maintenance that comes with the heat, and around all of that the work deadlines. Growing a garden is a big part of my job, but its the writing and photography around those experiences that make my living. They all seem to collide at this time of year, each one as critically important as the other. To which do I focus my attention first? That’s the question I ask myself each day, and I find that I am often running back and forth between my desk, the kitchen, and the garden like a deranged lunatic. It’s not uncommon for me to stop at each of these destinations without a clue as to why I was headed there. But then some new task catches my eye and I turn my attention to it and 15 minutes or an hour passes before I recall why I was there in the first place. The neighbours must find me confusing. I exhaust myself.
I suppose I wouldn’t have it any other way, although I really could use an assistant…. (so she says every year, and every spring she finds another reason not to make that leap.)
On to the plants!
I’ve sung the praises of white valerian (Valeriana officinalis) in the garden many times on this site and in public presentations. It’s one of the most impressive perennials I grow in my community garden plot. Although it isn’t directly useful as an edible like most of the other perennials I’ve put in, it does good things for the garden. We are continuously impressed by it’s beauty, size, smell, and ability to attract beneficial insects.
This was going to be a much better post wherein I was going to tell you all about the goings-on in my little community garden plot, however I started writing it ten days ago and then…. well… clearly that ball was dropped. But I didn’t want to leave it, stuck forever in the drafts folder with 20 other half-written posts that are so far past their due date that they will never see the light of day. Obviously much has changed in ten days but regardless, here’s what was happening just over a week ago.
Parkdale Community Beer Garden (facing north). My plot is the one to the forward right of the frame. The big leafy thing in front is my ever-expanding patch of white valerian (Valeriana officinalis). This is a gorgeous plant that grows to be taller than me producing massive sprays of fragrant white flowers. Some cats like valerian and go crazy for it like catnip. Mine does not so the only personal use I get from it are the flowers that I snip to put in vases on occasion. But the real reason I keep valerian in the garden is because the plant is known to be an immune system boost to the plants that live around it and it makes a good addition to the compost heap. It also attracts a lot of beneficial insects becoming a little microcosm onto itself by mid-summer.
My plot (facing west). I keep an assortment of perennial herbs in that corner leaning towards a mix of bright green and chartreuse plants. I added some black pansies to the mix this year which made a nice colour combination.
Most of plot (view facing north)
Harvested that day. Lots of herbs, onions, and garlic mustard roots (later made into horseradish).
Plot (Facing north east). There’s that valerian again. The spiky leaves sticking up all over the place are mostly garlic and onions.
The mint corner. They’re coming up strong including last year’s over-priced purchase, Mojito mint. This is one of the mints I intend to propagate this year. They say growing an assortment of mints together is a bad idea as it can dilute the quality of each variety over time. But I’ve only got so much space and there are too many interesting mint varieties to grow so what can one do except break some rules.
Pansies amongst the onions. I’ve got violas and pansies all over the place as spots of colour until the self-seeding calendula, borage and other edible flowers mature.
The sage corner. I’ve got 4 different varieties living here. I think we’re pretty much set for sage into the next millennium. Since I took this picture the plants have EXPLODED with buds forming that will soon bring that corner alive with colour. Thankfully there are lots of interesting things to be done with sage and it dries very well. Here’s a yummy sage and walnut pesto recipe. I’m also growing white sage on the roof.
The onion sets I planted 2 weeks prior are already growing. How’s that for fast service?