Gifts from the Garden

The rain is back after a couple of months of uninterrupted sunshine. This year, no one is complaining that we didn’t get any summer. We’ve made our move and we’re cozy and dry in our new home. We’ve seriously downsized, from 2,000 sq. ft. of living space to just over 1,000 sq. ft.; from 2 acres (87,120 sq. ft.) to a 4,800 sq. ft. city lot. The back garden faces north: a treat for hostas and hydrangeas, but not so good for peonies and roses. I’ll have to make room for my favourite sun-loving plants by getting rid of a substantial patch of St. John’s wort (Hypericum) soaking up the sun in its south-facing position in front of the house.

The good news is the rich, black, worm-filled soil, worked and improved over decades by the gardeners who’ve lived here in the past. Our new neighbourhood is the Fernwood area of Victoria, British Columbia, where houses were built as early as 1860. Contrast that with my last garden, a partially cleared wilderness almost completely untouched by fork or spade before my arrival.  My new yard boasts an impressive vegetable bed along the back fence, planted by my immediate predecessors. It is still yielding tomatoes, winter squash and herbs. Along the east fence, nasturtium continues to flower: bright spots of yellow and orange under a dark grey sky.

Most delightful of all are the kale plants, surprisingly and beautifully coloured blue-green and purple. I am fond of kale. Unlike spinach, kale doesn’t go all slimy when it’s cooked. Its crunchiness survives, especially when it is stir-fried lightly in sesame oil with a bit of garlic and soy sauce. Delicious, and so good for you. Kale earns top marks (1,000 out of 1,000) in the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scoring system, in which foods are scored based on the equation health value equals nutrients delivered per calorie consumed (H = N/C).  It’s full of vitamins A, C and K, as well as calcium.

I’m happy to be settled and grateful for the gifts of the garden.

“Kale”, watercolour, 9″ x 12″

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