A Good Home, Animals, Birds, Country Living, Ducks, Gardens, Gardens and Wildlife, Garlic

Wonders Never Cease

Every so often, I wish I had a well-behaved garden.

The kind where everything does what I want, when I want.

Where flowers don’t stray into lawns and lawns don’t stray into flowerbeds, and the strong wind didn’t break one of the arches on the arbour my dear husband so carefully built.

Blog Photo - Garden Circle

But this I know:

Real gardens offer up surprises each week, each day and sometimes, each hour.

Blog Photo - Hollyhock Mutant

Like flowers blooming in unexpected colours.

Blog Photo - Peony Rust

And interesting visitors.

Like this large bird in the apple tree.

Blog Photo - Bird in tree

And wild rabbits.

Blog Photo - Rabbit cleans self

Cleaning themselves without a care in the world.

Blog Photo - Bird Scratches self

Like this mother duck, with her ducklings.

Blog Photo - Duck Family

She must have squeezed herself under the fence.

Blog Photo - Ant and Moth

This ant, dragging a dead moth many times its size. It took the moth way across the verandah.

Blog Photo - Farmhouse Doorway

This beet, expected to be dark red, is somehow orange.

Blog Photo - Orange Beets

A single squash. It’s from a vine that strayed from our neighbours’ squash plantation.

Blog Photo - Squash on our side of fence

“It’s yours”, he says. The thing will grow to almost half my height. No kidding.

Blog Photo - Squash 2

These onions, because they delight and surprise me each late summer.

Blog Photo - Onions

And the garlic, just because the sight of them when newly harvested always surprises me.

Blog Photo - Garlic 2

The sight of our daughter’s little doggie, coming around the corner at full speed. Well, sort of.

Blog Photo - Doggie Runs

And this shadow “selfie”, which I didn’t know was there till I downloaded it and nearly jumped in surprise.

Blog Photo - Shadow takes photo

Gardens: places of surprise and discovery.

**

Dedicated to all gardeners, everywhere.

A Good Home, Blessings, Canadians, Couples, Family Stories, Gardening, Garlic, Home, Inspiration, Love letters, Loving Acts, Vegetable Garden

“If you are reading this, it means….”

Our friend Jacqui phoned.

“Are you going to be there in a few minutes? I’m coming for a visit.”

I smiled. It was almost exactly what Paddy used to say. Minutes later, he and his wife Jacqui would be at our door.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Married for decades, they were always together, these two.

Blog Photo - Jacqui and Paddy on holidaysOur family loved their visits.

But Paddy died from cancer earlier this year.

We wondered if Jacqui would continue the impromptu visits. I was very pleased with her call.

As usual, I let her in through the kitchen door, and we hugged.

We sat at the harvest table.

Blog Photo - Garden harvest Basket tomatoes pumpkin

It was the same table that just last October was laden with produce from the garden — including the lone Jamaican pumpkin that grew from a seedling that Paddy and Jacqui had given us that spring.

Blog Photo - Garden harvest baskets with toamtoes peppers eggplants on table

“Come for your share of the pumpkin harvest,” we’d phoned them, laughing.

When they came, we handed them a bag filled with herbs, garlic, tomatoes and half of the Jamaican pumpkin.

Now, 8 months later, Jacqui and I sat together at the table for the first time without Paddy.

We sipped our tea.

She’d been going through Paddy’s belongings, she said. Deciding what to give away,  and identifying matters that needed her immediate attention.

She opened Paddy’s briefcase.

She saw an envelope addressed “To My Wife”.

She ripped it open and started to read:

Blog Photo - Jacqui letter ECU2

My dearest Jacqui.

So faithful and true!

… Without you, I would have had nothing. It was due to your sacrifices that we survived. You gave so much and demanded so little. Thank you for being so much to me over the years….”

“I want you to read it,” Jacqui said now, handing me the long white envelope.  She had torn it open at one end, but the writing on the front was clear: “To My Wife”, it said.

I reached into the envelope, pulled out the letter.

I got goosebumps.

Paddy’s letter to Jacqui ends with this paragraph:

Blog Photo - Jacqui letter final graph

“If you are reading this, it means that I’ve passed on. Don’t be sad. Our life together was good! Although I won’t be here in body, I will always be at your side in spirit.

“Good bye my love!”

Moved by his love for her and their daughter Donna — and by this considerate act – Jacqui cried.

Paddy and Daughter in earlier years
Paddy and Daughter in earlier years

But here’s what surprised her most: the letter was dated August 9, 1999.

Blog Photo - Jacqui letter date1

Paddy wrote it 14 years before – and put it in his briefcase, where he knew Jacqui would find it.

Blog Photo - Jacqui on verandah

The impact on Jacqui was so positive that on a subsequent visit, as we sat on the verandah, she agreed to let me share excerpts from the letter.

The lesson here:

There’s no need to wait. You can write that letter to someone you love right now.

A Good Home, Basil, Cilantro, Cooking, Dill, French Tarragon, Gardening, Gardens, Garlic, Garlic Scapes, Herb Gardens, Parsley

Herbs …. Ho Hum

My blog has received its first complaint.

Seems I’ve produced fine stories about fine people and fine flowers.

My crime  is that I’ve completely ignored the fine herbs and vegetables growing in my husband’s gardens.

Blog Photo - Apple Mint

Like the fragrant apple mint, which we use to flavour drinking water and in delicious mint jelly too. We also chop it up and mix with fresh blueberries and sliced mangoes, for dessert.

But I digress.

Husband is complaining. Reminding me that: “You can’t eat flowers. At least, not most of them!”

Blog Photo - Mint CU

And along comes Vito, for reinforcement.

Yes, the vintner-gardener-historian of our neighborhood who turns up repeatedly in A Good Home, turned up at our garden gate this morning. That same Vito who believes only vegetables and herbs — and wine grapes — have a right to exist in a garden.

Blog Photo - Vito amid the flowers

As if my husband needed any reinforcement….

But I digress.

Since one does not wish to upset the finest cook ( some may say the only cook) in this household, I’ve decided to make amends.

Blog Photo - Herb Bed and Bird Bath

We’ll come back to the vegetables one day soon.  For now,  I hope you enjoy these photos of the herbs which my husband tends more faithfully than the flowers in our garden.

I cannot say they are the most interesting photos I ever saw. Take this parsley.

Blog Photo - Herb garden - parsley

And this French Tarragon. For a plain-looking herb — exemplifies uber-exuberance. N’est-ce pas?

Blog Photo - Herb Garden Tarragon

Not that I’m complaining. Herbs taste very good in the dishes my husband makes. Basil, for example, goes well with tomato dishes.

Blog Photo - Herb Garden Basil

Some herbs grew from last year’s seeds. We got lots of re-seeded dill, which goes well with fish, especially salmon. Cilantro, below, is great in salads. And goes well with avocado, shrimp dishes, etc.

Blog Photo - Herb Garden cilantro

But I digress.

My issue: Herbs tend to have small flowers, and most of them are white.  Why aren’t some red or blue or yellow? This onion flower would look great in red.

Blog Photo - Herb garden Onion Blossom

Not that I’m complaining.

Blog Photo - Herb Garden Chives

Chives, above, go well with omelettes and scrambled eggs.

And did you know you can eat garlic scapes? Great in a vegetable stir-fry.

Blog Photo - Herb Garden Garlic Scape

And did I say that garlic is easy to grow? If you let the scapes go to seed, then drop the seeds in a small part of your garden, and lightly cover with soil, you’ll have garlic next year.

Not that I know anything about such stuff, of course.

I’m a flower garden person.

 

 Photos by Hamlin Grange