Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Flowering Herbs

     "Few are those who cannot permit themselves at least a few pots or a window box of herbs; and in a garden, borders, hedges and clumps of herbs...they can be of great beauty."—Richard Olney

 Flowering chives from Green Gulch at Ferry Plaza Saturday Market

Oregano blooming in my wooden planter

Flowering Sage in Barbara Pleasant's garden—Growing Sage

Rosemary blossoms, buzzing with bees, in the Berkeley hills

Hyssop—cutting the stems releases its fragrance


                          "The tiny intense blue flowers scattered  
                          over a background of varied greens and
                          hard- boiled eggs are ravishing." —                  
                                                                Richard Olney

A butterfly enjoying thyme in full bloom

    "The hillside formed a tapestry of the blues and violets of flowering wild thyme, punctuated by bushes of wild rosemary, feathery shoots of wild fennel and the spring growth of oregano and winter savory—the poetry of Provence was in the air..."— Richard Olney
Richard Olney in Provence

Spanish lavender brightens my herb garden and delights the bees.
A friend's garden with a magnificent quantity of flowering basil.....and mint

     And finally— Basil. As in the passages above, I quote Richard Olney, from Simple French Food:
"It is addictive, and few who form the habit of using it can do without it! By all means use the flowers as well as the leaves and, rather than chopping, tear the latter into fragments; then they won't blacken."      
Featured Book:

Craig Claiborne, Cooking with Herbs and Spices, N.Y., 1963

     An oldie but goodie. This was perhaps my first cookbook. My mother gave a copy to me, another to my sister and kept one for herself. She loved growing and cooking with fresh herbs and she had an admirable collection of herb books and old herbals.
     Craig Claiborne, long-time food editor of the New York Times and author of many classic cookbooks, offers a tempting set of recipes for fifty-four herbs and spices, illustrated with lovely pen and ink drawings. My copy is spattered and worn, but still sports the original dust jacket. I make the pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving; no other filling comes close!



  1. Ah, Seeing Cooking with Herbs and Spices reminds me that I kind of learned to cook from Craig Claiborne. We may have gotten Herbs and Spices first, but Claiborne's NYT Cookbook was my bible. My Herbs and Spices opens to the classic Spiced Applesauce Cake and Leg of Lamb with Herbs. I love all those herb pictures. They remind me of how brillaint Potager gardening is -- mixing up the flowers with herbs and veggies.

    1. Thanks for the lovely comment. I never really knew what potager gardening was even though I love Georgeanne Brennan's book entitled "Potager." Like you, she is an avid gardener in Winters, CA and she has a house in Provence. What could be better!

    2. I have Georgeanne Brennan's book, In the French Kitchen Garden, with illustrations by one of my favorite illustrators, Melissa Sweet. It is a beautiful book -- I love it. I got it for the pictures, and also because I love the idea of potagers. One day my potager will be photo worthy.

  2. Beautiful oregano flowers you're growing -- who knew they are so beautiful?