Wilderness Winter Garden

Call it poet’s marigold, or simply, pot marigold, as it wanders delightfully amongst the most colourful herbs in my garden. My kitchen fills with its sunny flowers that smell delightfully of honey, with a hint of spice and mild, woody sweetness. I love to use the golden, daisy petals to flavour and colour soups of vegetable dishes. A cool, wet season has left the grasses thick and interspersed with glowing, self-sown “wildlings”.

How delightful it is to wade ankle-deep through the cool, fallen leaves and soft grasses at day’s end. This is the time of year to breathe deeply and slowly, as one wanders through the wilderness of late autumn. I love to embrace nature’s irreverent sense of humour , as herbs and weeds now embark on their final notorious indulgence, as autumn’s defiant seedlings emerge in unlikely places.

Over all my garden, there spreads a subdued humming of bees as they forage steadily for nectar. I delight in just watching the bees as they follow the sun-like flowers through the days in my wilderness garden. Just outside the Nook, a huge, flowering basil, attracts the bees like a party. Here the fragrance of sweet “Purple Ruffles” is so absorbing the bees cannot resist. When you rustle your hands over the basil patch, the leaves release a surge of fragrance and flavouring, subtly accented with lemon, lime, clove, cinnamon, licorice or mint.

Recently, gentle chives came into bloom, with starry-white flowers displayed in typical allium globes. The bees love to visit these, but seed heads form quickly, and then self sow, leaving behind a mass of papery “parchment caps” that rustle softly in the breeze. These are called Chinese garlic chives and after flowering all summer they greet winter with their dried seed heads, shaking their papery tan caps, and eager to self sow wherever the wind or bees beckon.