Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Herbage Cartwheel (text by me)


Britta Huegel



Looking back I would file my "herbage cartwheel" under the heading “super tips that turned out rubbish”. I am easily impressed and I do have a vivid imagination, so my bolder sisters rapidly win me over when they call “Come, Britta!”
Especially convincing is the late Vita Sackville-West, whose garden-columns I devoured over and over. Vita tempted me to a lot of thrilling garden experiments, for example I planted the hedge of wild roses, so powerful described by her, at the edge of Mr. Avaricious’ garden, ordering the whole bunch of Scottish briars at Jensen's nursery.
I have to admit that those roses have grown, at least in height: long gigantic spiky spears aim at the sky, and in summer, after a shower of rain the foliage of the Sweet Briars smells absolutely wonderful. But their flowers last only very short, and the colours are not especially bewitching - though maybe I’m too spoilt, too hard to please to appreciate the simplicity of the tiny blossoms enough?
Anyhow, husband is nagging that the thorn-armoured-ones should disappear, because they are looking so untidy (as if order ever has been my aim in the garden…).
Well, and another idea of Vita is the Herbage Cartwheel. You need an old wooden cartwheel - which I discovered promptly at a local bootsale. Husband carted it to our garden, and I painted it a deep crimson. We put it at the back of a border, and into each segment of the spokes I planted a different kitchen herb.
For a while it looked perfectly pretty and practical. But then the herbs began to develop very differently; especially an estragon of Russian origin, who acted rather tasteless in the kitchen, and the luscious lovage that I couldn’t use in any food grew out of hand, while I had no luck with dill: hardly surprising because then the huge spruce still overshadowed everything and threw its needles onto the ground - which reacted quite sourly to that. Only the chives sprouted rampant; the parsley disappeared completely after no time at all, and an English peppermint, covered with wonderful soft hairs was on the run. 
And while the beloved ones moved away, some strange fairy ring mushrooms arrived as uninvited visitors, remained like clingy relations all over the summer, and return with aplomb every year. 


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