It was a philodendron, a purportedly unkillable plant. It didn’t climb, so it shouldn’t sprout about and have to be pruned as such. It had big waxy leaves, so it retained water and wouldn’t super wilt if forgotten for too long.
But yet, as I stood there, looking at the droopy, drying leaves, blotchy with varying shades of greens, yellows, and browns, I had apparently murdered one of the hardiest plants. It still stood in its maroon pot, but yet the tabletop around it, which had been littered with crispy, crunchy leaves, told the true tale of its demise, as well as the story of my gangrene thumb.
This situation and others like it (rest in pieces, my poor succulents) make me very leary to have houseplants or invest in much of a garden. I do, however, like to cook and bake, and I like to do so with fresh ingredients…so I do take a crack at a herb garden every year–and every year it gets a little better. They hang out on my deck, within reach of my kitchen, and have been easy to prune, trim, water, and care for…which has made for some delicious summer adventures.
So what are my favorite to plant? Well, I love:
1.) Rosemary. This is probably my favorite herb, as I use it in pretty much everything. I love it in meatloaf with balsamic vinegar; it is also delicious in compound butter.
2.) Mint. I specifically like one called Mojito Mint, which is the original herb used in Cuba for the classic beverage. I like it because it is a bit citrusy while still being minty, so it is extra fresh and crispy. I especially like it in lemonade or blended with watermelon; both of which are a tremendously refreshing drink.
3.) Basil. Pesto is so delicious and so easy to make a freeze, so a big bunch of basil is planted every year so I can keep my supply up.
4.) Lemon Verbena. I have a killer Lemon Verbena Rosemary Scone recipe (a twist on this one from The Pioneer Woman), and this is pretty much the only reason why I plant this herb. I guess Victorian women would fill a handkerchief with leaves from this plant and inhale their fragrance to get a little relief from the heat…but I’ll just keep to baking with them. I want to try a lemon verbena tea ice cream this year, but we’ll see how that goes.
5.) Thyme. I like thyme, as it is a nice general herb that kind of goes with everything and gives the dish a little more depth of flavor. I like lemon thyme (if it hasn’t become abundantly clear, I really like lemon and citrusy things). I probably use it the most in chicken or with salmon.
So, if you have the time but perhaps not the skills, I recommend planting yourself a little herb garden; it gives the confidence of being a gardener without the supreme dedication and skill required, but you will still get to reap the tasty rewards of your work.