My mom’s and my biennial garden tea party took place last weekend. My momma would like me to post recipes here for everything that we produced for said party, and that might happen gradually over time. There will certainly be a post on the clotted cream when the next attempt happens in a few weeks. We did a lot of baking and preparing, samovar and tea set borrowing, hat selecting, etc., and ladies came and got to wear neglected accessories and sip tea (or gin) from tea cups and chatter the afternoon away, and said ladies were also given tours of the garden upon request and had photos taken under the rose arbor at my mother’s insistence.
I got my photo taken on party day, but my personal garden tour came a day later, when my mother was no longer wearing a frilly dress and Carmen Miranda hat, and I was moved by the extent to which my momma’s garden is an extension of the very best parts of her. I have always thought of her as a gardener, but I was struck more by the particular ins and outs of her garden this time, probably for a few reasons: 1.) I am more interested in gardening and covetous of the space to garden than I have been in the past. 2.) My mom always grew flowers in abundance outside our various houses, but her veggies were mostly out in a community plot when I was growing up. Over the last few years, the veggie garden has migrated to her house, and the integration of food and flowers that I love so much has reached new levels in recent years. And lastly, 3.) Though I thought of adults as somewhat static when I was a little kid, I realized pretty quickly that the best ones are more dynamic, still growing and changing with time. There’s no cut off for that, no grown up age where the growing is done. As my mother continues to learn and soften and expand into an evermore wonderful lady, so, too has her garden evolved. Volunteer plants are encouraged more than ever. Potatoes are allowed to pop up in the broccoli patch, and they are loved and nurtured there. A mix of Chinese greens “does their thing” by the runner beans, and she picks whatever parts are tender enough to eat.
I know that hours upon hours of careful thought have gone into that garden, that winter months are spent devouring seed catalogues, that plants are rotated year to year to keep the soil healthy, that there is much planning and order in the place. But there is a looseness, too, in my mom’s garden. Plants are permitted to reseed themselves in unlikely spots. A decision has been made to let nature do its thing some of the time. I love being in the garden and seeing my mom loosening up those reins and striking a balance of control with her beloved plants, because I love the herbs and potatoes and prayer flags of course, but moreso because I love my momma. I love being in the garden, because her great big heart is there, on full display. Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves. Momma lets hers run loose among catmint and foxgloves and amaranth.
A few years ago, this was all lawn and a small herb garden. The herb garden expanded. Then came berry bushes and runner beans, and the border with the neighbor’s lawn is now marked by blueberries and dramatically named Love Lies Bleeding amaranth plants, by potatoes and asparagus and any number of other treasures. The lawn is history.
Those are the greens doing their thing at the front of the house. Garlic scapes are tasty, and I love their graceful curlicues.
There were so many peas ripe for the picking, bright green beneath prayer flags flapping and tattering away, carrying blessings away on the breeze.