As beautiful as they may be, not every garden needs to be as sweeping, lush and high maintenance as Versaille. They are not exclusively for the vast expanses and many landscapers of a Newport mansion. Nor are they only for the relaxing retiree of Cape Elizabeth, dedicating daily hours to temperamental plants and soil research. Gardens can be for absolutely anyone, and can serve a more fun and fulfilling purpose than pure aesthetic and priggish tea parties. Your home garden should be just that: a functional, wonderful, welcoming extension of your home.
Perhaps the easiest to grow and most useful element of a garden are the herbs. Able to enhance any meal, there is little so lovely in life as turning to a child or helper and being able to say: “could you snip some fresh basil from the garden for me?” If an entire garden is overwhelming, but you would love to have something growing, this is probably the one piece to focus on – herbs are so basic to tend that they can even grow indoors or on a patio, but so handy that you’ll find yourself planting more and more. A simple start for this summer would be chives, mint, parsley, coriander, oregano, thyme, and basil. Tend to like your herbs dried? Cut what you need, and lay them on a paper towel in sun of a closed car. Within a few hours they will be perfection, and your car will smell great — just like any area where these ideal plants grow.
Similarly, certain vegetables are simply easier to grow, and hearty survivors of whatever nature throws their way — making them ideal for any area, skill level, or age. What better way for kids to experience responsibility than letting them see something they cared for grow before their eyes? Carrots, green beans, lettuce, cucumbers, spinach, tomatoes. And that already sounds like a gorgeous and delicious salad, doesn’t it?
Whether you’re worried about the current state of your friends the bees, or just love seeing other pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds, there is no better way to contribute than adding a few of their favorites to your lawn. This need not be difficult, either: the Butterfly bush and the Butterfly weed, and their easily remembered monikers, are deciduous Evergreens able to grow happily in both sun and shade. The handsome, cheery yellow of summer fennel only needs to be planted once, and will return every year; and if you love that yellow, a few sunflowers can also work wonders and be a delightful addition to the house. If you want heady aroma for yourself and not just the insects, lavender is surprisingly easy to nurture as a member of the Evergreen family. Even that simple oregano from your herb garden, when allowed to flower, draws bees and butterflies continuously throughout the loveliest months.
Whatever your reasoning in opting for a more functional home garden, be it your first foray into the field or an addition to a grander professional scale that you can tend yourself, there is no reason to let your busy daily life keep you from enjoying nature and her tastiest attributes. Once that garden begins to flourish, you’re eating meals you made from plants you grew yourself, and summer nights are spent with the flicker of fireflies in the setting sun, your only thoughts will be this: why didn’t I do this sooner, and what shall I plant next?