Friday, August 9, 2013


Every summer, my thoughts turn to herbs.
What would summer be without the scent of basil or mint or rosemary?
I plant basil every year not for making pesto or for drying,
but for walking by the plant 
and brushing its leaves with my hand to release the basil's aroma.
Pure bliss.

The photo above is lovely, but hardly representative of my herbs.
I have a row of them along the northwest side of my house.
The collection can't be called an herb garden per se
because it is a bit of a ragged affair.
But I have the antique peppermint plant that was growing 
next to my parent's farmhouse when they bought it in 1953.
And I have a rosemary plant, a bit of sage, and a small pot of oregano.
And then there is my stevia plant.

Stevia has a most interesting history.
According to, stevia was a centuries-old staple 
of the Guarani Indians of Paraguay.
They called it kaa he-he "sweet herb."
Bertoni, the Italian botanist who first "discovered" and wrote about the herb
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
noted that just a few small leaves were enough to sweeten a cup of tea or coffee.

I walk by and occasionally take a leaf  to taste its sugar,
but I've never tried to use it otherwise.
 I can attest to its sweetness. It is very, very sweet.
My plant usually blooms with tiny white flowers in August.
They are never quite as lush as these in the next photo:

Also, my plant is tall and gangly since it gets a minimum of sun.
But its sweetness makes up for its awkward appearance.
And that's a good reason to keep it.

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