Monday, August 3, 2009

To Bloom or not To Bloom, That is the question...

I went out today to water the garden and noticed that the oregano is budding and will be in full bloom in a couple of days. The marjoram is blooming, the thyme is blooming. I have been picking flowers off the basil for about a week, but they are reforming as fast as I pick them. The garlic is blooming, and the sage is sprouting some buds.

Usually, this would be the time for some serious attention to the garden. Get the scissors, cut away all the flowers, and then harvest all the herbs. But today was a bad day. I had a touch of some stomach bug last night, and didn’t sleep well. I did some lifting and other work on the truck and the travel trailer yesterday, and my leg was sore, my back hurt, and my neck was sore. I just didn’t feel like gardening.

I looked in the cabinet. We have plenty of dried oregano, enough to last all winter and some left over. I have quite a bit frozen as well. I have ample dried, sage, marjoram and thyme. So there is no urgency to harvest.

Blooming will diminish the flavor of the herbs, but all of the herbs that are blooming will still be edible after they bloom, the flavor just won’t be quite as strong.

So, I made an executive decision.

For the next little while, I am just going to let the herbs bloom and flower and do what plants like to do naturally.

I’ll pick the leaves we need to cook with, but I’m not going to dry, freeze, or do anything else for the next couple of weeks. I’ll enjoy the flowers while they look nice, then, when they start to die down, I’ll cut them away and use the herbs that are left.

Sure, they won’t be at their very strongest flavor, so I’ll use a few more when I cook with them.

But sometimes in life, we have to stop and enjoy the flowers.

As a kid, I lived in a small house, with a large family. My mom used every available inch of space to plant her garden. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, and whatever else she was growing that year. She didn’t “waste” much space on flowers.

I understand her logic. She was depending on that garden to offset the costs of feeding a houseful of people, and flowers don’t generally make good eating. But there is a time and place for utility, and a time and place for beauty. The body needs food, but so do the mind and the soul.

We don’t have a lot of extra room either, and we have mainly concentrated on growing herbs that we will use. We haven’t grown a lot of ornamental plants with the exception of a few flowers tucked here and there around the herbs. But herbs, even culinary herbs, produce some colorful and vibrant flowers.
By letting them blossom and bloom, and taking some time to enjoy the blooms, instead of frantically worrying about getting them cut off, we allow our mind and our soul to get the same enjoyment from our garden that our body gets when we eat them.

That’s what it’s all about after all. If I ever reach the point where I am so busy gardening that I don’t have time to enjoy it, then it’s time to stop gardening.

So for now, I’m going to stop and smell the flowers.


  1. There is an added benefit to letting them bloom, it really attracts the bees. I always let mine bloom. Then I just cut them back with the hedge trimmer! It works for me and you can see by the pictures of my herb garden, it doesn't seem to effect them at all.

  2. I know what you mean -it's a lot of work harvesting those herbs and if you don't feel good well I really like The Thrify Countrywoman's comment!