Picking Favorites

By Mary Ellen Ellis | November 28, 2021

Around Thanksgiving, I tend to think about what I’m grateful for, and my mind always circles back to my garden. I am grateful for so many of the beautiful plants that make my yard livable, but a few are my favorites. 

Rose of Sharon

My absolute favorite plants, for which I am most grateful, are my rose of Sharon shrubs. I have two, so close together they look like one large shrub. One produces pinkish-purple flowers with darker centers. The other has pure white blooms. 

I love these flowers for many reasons. They’re simply beautiful in their own right, but I also remember them growing in my childhood yard and always loved them then too. Now, in my own backyard, I get to enjoy the gorgeous flowers for most of the summer as well as all the bees they attract. 

Ferns

I am eternally grateful for my ostrich ferns because they thrive in a dark, moist corner of the yard where little else grows. Before putting in ferns, the only things I could grow back there were weeds and moss. 

Not only do the ferns grow and make the area more attractive, but they also take care of themselves. Ferns need little care and spread out to fill the space without my intervention. I love a hands-off, thriving plant. 

Herbs

Because I have tried and often failed to grow vegetables in my yard, I am forever thankful for the herbs that always do well. They grow in pots on my back patio so I can move them around. 

I love the wildlife in my yard, and this is one type of plant they won’t nibble. For this, I am so thankful. Depending on the year, I grow lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme, and cilantro most of all. I have also tried others, like chives and dill, but found I didn’t get much use out of them. 

In addition to how easy they are to grow, what I love most about my herbs is their usefulness. They look great on the patio, and add delicious smells to the air, but mostly I enjoy using them in the kitchen. 

My absolute favorite is lavender. I discovered that the leaves taste great in any kind of dish that calls for rosemary. The flowers, when dried, make a soothing tea. I also use them to make a syrup that goes into desserts and cocktails. Try adding lavender syrup to a glass of sparkling wine. It’s delightful. 

I truly am thankful for all the plants in my garden. Even those that have failed over the years taught me important lessons. All have helped me grow as a gardener, but it’s hard not to pick favorites. 

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