Six Reasons To Plant a Garden

Our expert gives six convincing reasons you should start the garden you've always dreamed about.

| October/November 2002


Why plant a garden? Why bother with the time and expense of growing your own herbs? Now that it’s autumn and the garden has relaxed its demands, let’s just chat about this hobby and what we gain from it.

• Flavor. The most obvious benefit of an herb garden is to have a constant supply of the freshest herbs you can find anywhere, whenever you need them. And when the growing season winds down, you turn that last harvest into a stockpile of dried herbs that will have more taste than anything you can buy in a bottle at the grocery store. When you think of how much flavor herbs add to every meal you prepare (and the price of fresh herbs in the grocery store these days), that’s reason enough to grow your own.

• Beauty. A bountiful herb garden rewards the gardener throughout the seasons with color, texture, and sometimes breathtaking beauty. Herbs are enticing at every stage of their lives, from the fresh green of new growth in the spring and the explosion of flowering through the summer to the relaxed sprawl of autumn. Compared to tidy petunias and many other bedding plants, herbs are interesting and evocative, even if you never harvest a single leaf.

• Fragrance. When the sun warms the leaves, it releases the volatile oils that are the herbs’ source of flavor and fragrance, perfuming the air. Fragrances are often directly linked to memories, so you can sit in the sun in your garden, breathe deep, and be transported—to your grandmother’s lap or the fields of Provence, or anywhere else that fragrance memory takes you.

For the crafter, being able to capture and preserve those fragrances is a wonderful bonus; opening a container of potpourri in midwinter will bring back the summer. And every cook knows that fragrance is also a major component of taste. The heat of the stovetop releases the herbal scents the same way the sun does on a warm day in the garden. The aroma of that simmering spaghetti sauce will make you salivate.

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