Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Gardening Carnival - Mint

Thanks to Doug (Doug's Green Garden) for suggesting this.

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Mint Leaves: Copied under the Creative Commons License. Photography by Gunslinger.

My great grandfather's garden.

I have a patch of spearmint in my garden corralled by concrete walkways that flowers a bee-happy-lilac, and provides my family with endless minty treats. It was given to me by my mother when we bought our first house in Canada, but it is descended from much older stock.

My family history is filled with the usual mixed bag of sailors and salesmen, but as far back as anyone can remember, one branch of my family were gardeners. My great grandfather held the official title of gardener at a manor house in England. He had taken over from his father and so on down the time line. In the tradition of cottage gardens, they took cuttings and seeds from where they worked to their own little dwellings. It made for the beautiful and barely controlled chaos. One of these men, brought home with him a spring of mint. Another carried that mint to Canada. Later my mother put it in her garden. And one day, I intend on giving it to my daughters.

Some may curse the exuberance of mint, but I think its tenacious grasp is inspiring. I remember thinking it had been killed by its first year of deep cold in Ottawa but come spring, mint green peeped out as soon as the soil warmed. Another year, our neighbour decided to weed whack our perennial beds while we were away. He told me that he had been puzzled by the sudden overwhelming smell of mint. The plant survived that too.

Mint is a plant for sharing. In fact, to get the best flavour, you must try your mint before you decide to plant it because plants from seed vary greatly. Luckily most people have more mint than they need. It also roots very easily so if you like the fresh stuff you bought from the grocery store, put some in a cup of water and see if it will root. I have had success with peppermint using this method.

And think of all the wonderful food you can make, from tabouli to mint tea. It enlivens the mind, and at least for me, warms the heart.


Mint Varities from Ritchers
- I'm sure there's more!
Tabouli (with mint) recipe
Rooting mint cuttings by the Gardening and Allotment Blog


Blackswamp_Girl said...

What a great post! I am not brave enough to plant mint in the ground here, but I always have some in pots. This year I had a particularly good crop that I have (so far) kept alive via cuttings in a glass of water on the windowsill.

I love the description of the head gardeners coming home with seeds and cuttings and creating "utter chaos"... how refreshing that must have been after the clipped-box formality they probably saw every day at work!

Ottawa Gardener said...

Thanks, I always loved the serendipity of cottage gardens.

debinnnc said...

I have a great love for mints even if they are invasive. I use enough of it that it never seems to get away from me.
I have some that a friend gave me that I can't identify--and I'm a Master Gardener. It's a peppermint with dark stems and undersides of the leaves. It have a very camphorus or licorice type scent and flavor. I've dried most of it now because it's gotten scraggly, but if someone would like to try it, send me an email. Thanks, Debra