In the herb bed, the basil and rosemary struggle. Stunted and pale with a yellow cast to their leaves, they are urchins of the garden. Beside them and not even noticing are the voluptuous, lanky, falling-over-themselves oregano, chives, and sage. Divergent tendencies side-by-side. Who ever knows why one thing thrives and the next thing struggles?
I give each a better chance. By sheering off lanky stems from the grown-crazy, I make way for roots to grow new shoots, and give their sun-starved bedfellows a chance to find some rays. By armloads, I cart freshly-cut fragrant herbs across the lawn and heap them onto the picnic table. The heady aroma swells through the air. The chives, I chop and scatter thinly over a linen-covered tray to dry. The sage is bundled and tied, then hung in the cross-breeze at the dining room's north-facing window. The oregano, I can only imagine as a massive bouquet in my largest vase. Because, as often as I might think otherwise, oregano blooms are one of my favorite in the garden (no matter the drying of it for now, new tender shoots will be up before I know it, all the better for drying anyway.) A bit of a late-summer indulgence, I'd say.
Have an armload of blossoms from your garden or market? Here are my basic steps for creating an open-water bouquet:
1/ Fill a clean vase with luke-warm water. This helps fresh-cut flowers drink more deeply. Add a floral preservative, if desired.
2/ Strip stems of all leaves that would fall below the water line, and two inches above.
3/ Take note of the height of your vase, and mentally figure the finished arrangement to be one and one-half times as tall.
4/ Cut each stem freshly with a clean sharp knife or flower shears and place it immediately in the water-filled vase, varying the height to achieve longer stems for the center and shorter for the perimeter, interweaving stems in a cross-directional fashion as you go to create support.
5/ After the general shape is achieved, fill in with shorter-stemmed flowers to create visual depth and interest.
6/ Set on a table out of direct sunlight and enjoy.
7/ Top off water daily. If it becomes discolored or cloudy, tip vase over a sink and empty water (leaving stems inside) and re-fill vase with fresh water.
Happy Monday, loves!