I grew up with herbs. My mother had an extensive herb garden that I loved to play in as a child.
My own herb growing has mostly been sticking to what I would use in cooking. My herb garden is a small plot beside my doorstep, inhabited by marjoram, chives, coriander, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. The kinds of herbs I’d use in a casserole, home-made pizza, omelette or salad. On the other side of my front doorstep is an area swamped with peppermint, spearmint and lemon balm – which make pleasant tasting herbal teas in summer. And a wild neglected lavender bush on the other side of the house is the sole survivor of a planned shrubbery that never happened.
My interest in herbs beyond the “simples” was rekindled after the earthquakes. When I was feeling particularly overwhelmed, and not-coping, my front doorstep became a refuge, where I could sit surrounded by the fragrant herbs on either side. The scents of sage and mint were surprisingly soothing and calming when I needed it the most. I loved sitting and weeding or trimming my herbs, breathing in their different fragrances.
I’ve never really been much of a gardener. Usually I tell my husband what veges I’d like to have in the kitchen and leave it up to him to grow them. But now the herb garden has become my domain. I’ve planted more herbs: camomile (both English and German), curry plant, lemon grass. And I’ve been re-reading my herb books for the uses of the different herbs, culinary, cosmetic and medicinal.
I love the idea of things traditional and home-made. I like cooking with seasonings I’ve grown myself. I like knowing the provenance of the ingredients I’m using for home-made cosmetic and cleaning products.