Saturday, August 15, 2009
Minty Goodness and Butterfly Bush Babies
Many gardeners hate mint, but I love it. I can understand why. It's pretty invasive. But it's beautiful, smells sweet, and provides a useful medicinal and culinary herb.
When I was a little girl, Mr. Hoffman, the retired chemistry teacher who lived next door to us, used to pick sprigs of mint from the plants growing next to his porch. He'd hand me the crushed sprigs and I'd inhale the fresh scent of mint. I loved to pick the leaves and crush them in my hands.
To this day, mint is one of my favorite flavors. It reminds me of the horses I loved since I always carried Brachs peppermint candies in my pockets for them. My old horse, Kricket, was so loyal he followed me wherever I went. At a horse show I opened the back door of my little Pontiac Sunbird and reached into the back seat of the compact car to grab my riding jacket off the hanger and finish preparations for my class. The next thing I knew, I felt the tickle of whiskers on my neck and the warm, grassy-smelling breath on my face...Kricket had stuck his entire head and neck into the car behind me, and had one hoof up on the little lip of the door frame as if he was going to try to step into the car too! A quick peppermint candy from my pocket lured him calmly out of my car. I actually found an old photo, circa 1990, of me with Kricket and am pleased to share it with you (he died in 1991 and although I have leased horses, I have never had another one. Not yet at any rate. Time will tell)
My mint grows from a little packet of seeds I bought from Parks, and I'm disappointed. The flavor is bland. I don't know why.
If any of my Virginia neighbors want to trade, I'll take a few roots and slips of their mint plants.
I read online that mint frequently cross pollinates with other mint varieties, and you can often get new kinds. So a type of mint that was growing in my garden back in New York may be hard to recreate here in Virginia. My friend AJ has this problem. He loved a mint he grew in New Jersey, but now that he moved here he can't find another strong mint like that one.
I love mint tea, but today it's warming up and I was out in the perennial gardening pulling gigantic weeds all morning. So I'm hot and slightly dehydrated. I've got a huge pitcher of ice cold water with mint sprigs floating in it in my office and I'm drinking it up. Nothing is quite as refreshing as mint crushed in ice water!
Today I discovered that all the volunteer seedlings in the garden ARE butterfly bushes. Hurray! I've got a nice one growing in a super spot on the hillside. I only had annuals around it so it picked a great place to grow. Next year I will have a lovely Buddleia there. Another one I discovered after (a-hem!) pulling up all the weeds around it is already blooming with gorgeous purple blossoms. I have two white butterfly bushes and one purple one. I'm so glad the purple one reseeded. I have on my 'to buy' list the bicolor one called Kaleidoscope and Buddleia Black Night, the really dark purple one. We want to add a lot more of them on the edge of the forest. The deer don't seem to like them and they grow so well here.
Speaking of deer, the mama deer with the bent leg graced the orchard last night with her fawns close behind. The fawn was in the perennial garden sleeping under the bird feeder yesterday. John spotted him as he walked Shadow up the driveway to the mailbox to pick up the mail. I saw his darling little head peeking out from between a sumac and a pine tree. He didn't eat a single perennial. I'm grateful.