Wednesday, June 20, 2012

herb garden & books that inspire

Favorite books are like old friends. The longer you've had them, the closer to your heart they seem to grow.

Lovely books inspire me. I'm sure many a book has helped transform dreams into reality.
As the year progresses I find myself turning to seasonal books on the bookshelf, turning the pages and seeing familiar images, re-remembering little bits of information that have gotten dusty in my mind. Or even better, discovering "new" things that for some reason, didn't speak to me in previous viewings but now pop out with a newfound meaning or understanding.

These are the old friends I've been visiting this week.
The first book by Tessa Evelegh is about lavender and I see from the copyright that it was translated from English.  It is a very lovely book with history and photos of various types of lavender, but most of the book is devoted to recipes, crafts ideas, decorating projects and no end of gorgeous lavender images.

The other book is Geraldine Holt's "Complete Book of Herbs"  - also  translated from English and apparently is no longer being published but is available used here. There is a plethora of information and ideas for practical and decorative uses of herbs.

There are so many delicious looking recipes here and I have it on my summer to-do list to try several of them. This book was quite a motivator for me when we planned our herb garden - or herb spiral - about 10 years ago.

At that time my husband was working on a wall project in our garden and we had a huge delivery of rocks. With the leftover rocks I built this spiral-shaped structure in a sunny spot. The actual design of an herb-spiral was an idea from a different book from the library and entire books are dedicated to this subject. Apparently this is not a new idea at all but was used in castles and monasteries since the middle-ages if not earlier.

The idea behind this structure is that the plants that want a drier soil go up at the top (i.e. rosemary, lavender, oregano) and the herbs thriving in a moister climate (chives, parsley etc) should be planted at the bottom. Mint and lemon balm are happy anywhere and can go in the middle. The sun-warmed stones serve as a heat tank which the herbs love. There are many technical drawings showing exactly where certain herbs should be planted, for example here

This spring I decided most of the herbs had gone a bit crazy so we pulled out nearly everything and started fresh. This is what it looked like in May ready to get a fresh new start.
I planted several types of mint, lemon balm, sage, sorrel, my husband added the borage, parsley and chives.

And many things came back, the chamomile, the pimpinella, more lemon balm! 
My dream is to make "green sauce"  completely from our garden -  a delicious sauce of herbs which is said to be a favorite of Goethe - but you must have at least seven of the right herbs.
 This is what the spiral looks like right now - this morning - in the pouring rain:
Yes, there are sunflowers growing at the bottom and already blocking the view of the lavender. I know they don't truly belong there ( I certainly did not plant them there!)....and it is not so nice when birds visit and leave their droppings on the herbs below :) As soon as they open their pretty faces they will come into a vase. 

Wishing you a lovely start of the summer!


greenrabbitdesigns said...

The first photo of the lavender is stunning Karen!
What a brilliant idea the herb spiral is, very clever.
I love it though that the birds decided that you should grow some sunflowers there. ;)
Happy Wednesday,
Vivienne x

Alicia said...

herb gardens are a must for me in the summer! i snipped off them all summer long :)

Sandra van Doorn said...

how clever; I am a great fan of herb gardens i they are so versatile: not only useful, but fragrant and beautiful too.

Ivy Clad said...

What a fantastic idea! This is my first time seeing an herb spiral. I can see why it would work so well. Where I live, the soil is heavy black clay and herbs like lavender have a hard time in in. This could be a perfect fix--getting them up to dryer ground.

I was so glad you said what you did over at my place this morning because it really adds something to the post. I too love that the ladies in the art are not stick thin. It is a reminder that confidence is key and that "movie star bodies" are an illusion of camera and engineered sets.

p.s. I would love it if you could share some of that rain with me. We are parched and dry and temps are hovering in the high 90s today. Bleck!

Pauline said...

The smell of lovely.
Lavender is one of my favorites.
Hugs, Pauline

GardenofDaisies said...

Karen, I LOVE your herb spiral!! That's funny that your "volunteer" sunflowers picked there to grow as well..

patchworkandlace said...

Hi katie ,i love lavender too i grew a lot myself from seeds last year now i have lots of plants xxxlovely pictures too xxx

... Tabiboo ... said...

What a beautiful garden - such inspiration.

Nina x

Ivy Clad said...

Hi Karen, I'm just doing some midnight reading & came back to this post. Books really are like old frIends. When we were dating, my husband bought me a big hardcover book on container gardening that he saw me oohing over in the bookstore. I used to read that book for hours dreaming about what I would plant when we had a house. Now, I read it still because it brings good memories AND because it turned out to be a really good reference book for small gardens. So I'm completely with you on the books-friends-dreams connection. Enjoy your weekend!


Hanna said...

Underbar blogg, blir verkligen glad av att titta in här.
Tack för att jag fick titta in, jag kommer åter.