Our story begins in 1995, when The Summer Book, by Susan Branch was hot off the press. The moment I read it, a new dream began to grow!
It all began with a very special book… and a big dream! Perhaps we should step back a few years to the beginning of the story…
As a young, single homeowner, nothing made me happier than restoring my little 1922 bungalow, adding my own creative touches every step of the way. My dad (my hero!) has always been there with the knowledge, expertise, tools, and his gifts of time to help make my dreams a reality. Together, we would work on big projects, as he patiently taught me how to plan, measure twice, use all kinds of tools, and choose the very best materials.
After my parents retired and moved to Arizona, my dad continued to help me build my dreams! Every Spring, Dad would ask the special question, “What project should we do this Summer?” Then Dad and I would begin to make our plan over the phone. That year, it was different. We wouldn’t be stripping woodwork together, building a pantry, or updating the electricity. I had a special plan… a dream for my garden!
Reading The Summer Book* by Susan Branch was my inspiration! I dreamed of creating an Herb Garden, surrounded by a white picket fence, just like Susan’s Kitchen Garden. *This special book is now out-of-print, but still lovingly sought after by her devoted fans. Keep your eyes open… and you may be lucky enough to find this treasure somewhere!
I had just finished reading The Summer Book by Susan Branch. She shared the story of how she wished for a Kitchen Garden, surrounded by a white picket fence. Joe built it for her in their yard on Martha’s Vineyard. I wondered… Could Dad and I build a special Herb Garden in my yard that Summer?
With many phone conversations, our little plan took shape. I chose the location and dug out huge evergreen bushes that filled that corner of my yard. Sawing and digging ~ digging and sawing, day after day. I wanted to have the area cleared by the time that Dad arrived for his Summer visit! Dad shipped the tools we would need all the way from Arizona, so that they would be waiting here upon his arrival. I was so excited that this special dream was coming true!
I will always remember how hard we worked together to level the ground where the huge bushes had been growing. Chopping out the stray roots to make way for two raised beds was a big challenge! As we worked, we laughed and talked, and dug and sawed. Dad is a wonderful storyteller, so the time passed quickly. We leveled the garden paths and added a white picket fence around the new Herb Garden. Although I expected the project to take a weekend, Dad and I worked together for two weeks to build my new Herb Garden. It was truly a ‘labor of love.’
Working hand-in-hand with Dad made my dream come true!
We even had time to assemble a garden arbor before Mom arrived in town. She was so impressed to see the lovely additions to my yard! Now there would be relaxing family times for the rest of their Summer visit. What wonderful memories and ‘souvenirs’ we have from the Summer of ’95.
Stepping through the garden arbor and garden gate always brings back lovely memories!
Today is a perfect, sunny June afternoon to peek inside our Herb & Tea Garden. I’ve been busy adding new organic soil to the raised beds. One bed is filled with culinary herbs: Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Cilantro, Garlic Chives, Oregano, Sage, Chives, Dill, and Marjoram.
Welcome to the ‘Heart of our Garden!’
Culinary herbs add a fresh touch to all of our Summer meals. It’s also fun to brush away the Winter snow and gather a few herbs!
The “Tea” bed is filled with mints and sages to brew fresh herbal tisanes, perfect served hot or iced. You might enjoy Candy Cane Mint, Peppermint, Apple Mint, Sweet Mint, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Balm, or Pineapple Sage. It’s fun to create your own personal blends, too!
It’s always fun to plan Tea Parties. Guests are welcome to wander down the path to our herbal “Tea” Garden to pick a few leaves for their own unique blends!
Candy Cane Mint
A vintage tea cup (a gift from a student long ago) graces the center of our “Tea” garden. Nestled just below are special rocks collected over the years ~ a cobblestone from Prague, a stone from Bacharach, stones from Red Mountain, and stones from our ‘secret place’ in the Sonoran Desert.
My sweet, talented friend, Kristin, created delightful garden markers from river rocks, collected in New Mexico and Arizona, especially for our Herb Garden.
‘Garden Stones by Kristin’ mark culinary herbs.
‘Garden Stones by Kristin’ highlight some of our mints and sages in the “Tea” Garden, too.
Large stepping stones lead the way through the garden arbor and across the yard to our Herb and Tea Garden. Old-fashioned perennials surround the inside and outside of the white picket fence. Gracing the outside of the picket fence are pink and white Peonies, Stella d’Oro Daylilies, Hostas, and Sedum. (Many years, I also plant Gladiolas along the picket fence, in honor of Susan’s wonderful inspiration!)
The magic happens whenever you step through the garden gate and are greeted by the lovely herbal scents. Along the inside of the fence, we enjoy pops of color from Black-eyed Susans, Balloon Flowers, Pincushion Flowers, Daylilies, Cranesbill Geraniums, Daisies, Bee Balm, Obedient Plant, and Chrysanthemums. A rustic birdhouse stands tall in the center of the Herb Garden and a folk art Garden Angel watches over this special place. Bees buzz in and butterflies flutter about all day long. Now I’m in search of the perfect bee skep to add to our Herb Garden. This quiet, little garden is one of my favorite places on earth!
My parents just returned to Arizona last week, after another lovely visit with us. We had so much fun reminiscing about the Summer when Dad and I built the Herb Garden together.
Each Summer, the Herb and Tea Garden is the ‘heart of my garden.’ My hours spent weeding, planting, and gathering herbs are such sweet times! I always think back to that Summer, so long ago, when Dad and I built this special garden together. Every time I step through the garden gate, it feels like a big hug from my dad! ♡ I will always cherish the hours spent in the heart of my garden ~ built with love!
P.S. Which herbs are your favorites?