Saturday, April 25, 2009

Refurbishing Shea's Herb Garden

When I got this house, one of the first things I did that following spring was put in an herb garden. The perfect bed was already there, just in need of some SERIOUS attention -- it was totally overgrown with crab grass! But, it had a lot going for it since it spanned the length of the side of the house, was about a foot wide itself, and received great sun because it faced due south. I battled and battled with that crab grass to get the bed ready for planting!

The herb garden sprang to life over Mothers' Day weekend, 2001. I had three dogs at the time: Dallas (whom I still have); Taylor, my collie (now deceased); and Sheamus (my Bouvier des Flandres mix). I recall that the weather was just gorgeous! Dallas and Taylor were on teathers enjoying the shade of the maple trees in the front yard. Shea, who tended not to roam and who couldn't run too fast if he did, was content to hang out with me while I planted.

We had a great weekend at the beach house and went home to Pennsylvania on Monday. The next day, Shea stopped eating and refused to get up. I knew he needed serious medical attention. To make a long story short, it took four very strong neighbors to lift him in a blanket and get him into my van. He ended up at the emergency room of the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia. Despite their wonderful efforts (I can't say enough good things about that place!!), sadly, Shea didn't make it.

However, since I had that last great weekend with him "helping" me plant the herb garden, it is still fondly referred to as Shea's garden, in his memory!

This rosemary plant was one of the originals in that garden. In actuality, it has grown over the years into quite a large shrub that has been cut back, shared with others, and has added wonderful flavors and aromas to my cooking. When I say large, this is an understatement. It could easily be seven feet in length and nearly five feet tall -- no exaggeration! This winter, however, half of the plant has died! So, I got out the pruners last week and clipped off as much of the dead wood that I possibly could. The remaining plant is still quite large and hopefully, will be OK. I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Unfortunately, this was not the only garden casualty. My two chive plants did not return this year! In addition to using them in my cooking, I find the flowers to be quite lovely! So, a rootbound chive that has been making its' home in a container for quite a number of years was finally freed from constraint! I used a hand saw to slice through the dense roots and made several plants out of one. In fact, ever thrifty, I bartered a piece of chive plant with my neighbor, Laura, in exchange for a zucchini plant!

Now, I have pruned the rosemary, replaced the chives, and have added in a French tarragon plant. Otherwise, the sage is stalwart (like the rosemary, I can use it all winter), and the oregano is coming back nicely. I'm not too sure about my thyme plants (I plant the English and lemon varieties), but I have a spare ready to plant, as I use a lot of this over the summer. Basil -- my other summer staple -- should be able to be planted in a week or two.

Like vegetables, one can never have too many herbs...So, I have had this idea fermenting in my brain all week about wrapping the herb garden around to the front of the house! Stay tuned -- that's a whole other post!

Gotta go...dirt beckons!
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  1. Janet- what a nice story. I love a garden to have meaning and yours certainly does. I think Shea would be happy to know that garden brings you pleasure.

  2. Hi Janet! I am jealous - your rosemary is, well, was so big! I hope it'll be O.K. I lost mine a couple of years ago and don't have luck with a new one. I know that rosemary doesn't like an excessive moisture, I changed the location, but no luck. On the other side, chives are breeding like rabbits....
    Will wait for your next story!

  3. Tatyana, actually I always go by the creed that "a dry rosemary is a dead rosemary"!!!! Try giving yours more water!!!! They seem to like it hot, but well watered! Janet