Thursday, August 20, 2020

Escape to the urban jungle

Late light on the terrace. Can you believe it is the end of August? Can you believe...anything?

But I do believe in books and in reading them. A moment alone in the small garden with drink, book, and bees for company, is happy. The book on the table above is Japan, and just arrived at the door - one of Nancy Singleton Hachisu's. I love her work.

The drink is gin, tonic (pink, from Fever Tree), and a flavor-infusing leaf from the sand ginger (Kaempferia galanga), one of the most rewarding, interesting and beautiful edible plants I have grown. 

It overwinters indoors, going dormant for several months. It looks deader than dead, then. You just have to believe. I take it back out around mid May. This year its first, tightly furled leaf emerged in early June, later than last year. Its orchid-like flowers are exquisite, and last a day, no more. The leaves are very aromatic and I have used them to make lacto-fermented Chinese pickles, and also include them in green curries. And, of course, drinks.

Oh! Some time ago Better Homes and Gardens asked me to write a story about my garden meanderings and this terrace, and so I did. You will find it in their September issue, themed The Power of Home. It's on shelves now. 


Books on Sale


  1. I've wondered about this a couple of times....does The Frenchman wrestle all those big pots outside? I know my husband and I, at our age, wouldn't be able to do that so I wondered if you have a secret? Plant elves? Fairy dust? Levitation?

    1. Hi Kath - no, the pots that move in and out are not very big! This one is 12"in diameter. Of course, your climate is different. What zone are you?

    2. PS - I didn't mean to ignore your point about age or health issues. I am guessing this pot weighs about 15lbs...

    3. We're in Zone 8 per USDA, but Seattle has a very maritime and somewhat unpredictable climate. Similar to The Frenchman's previous home in Vancouver, B.C....a little warmer in the winter and a little cooler in the summer.

      22 lbs wouldn't be that bad!

  2. Hi! I just read your story in my Better Homes & Garden magazine. Very nice! I enjoyed it so much, I found my way to your blog immediately. So glad I found you!

  3. Congratulations on the article. Better Homes and Gardens is such an institution! My mom, who passed away in 1972 always had a copy on hand. I checked to see when they started publishing it -- 1922 -- right around the time she was born. I hope to get my hands on a copy so I can read your article, which I'm sure is fabulous!

  4. When my BH&G arrived, I shrieked "I know her!" Scared the cats but delighted me.

  5. Just reading BH&G in car on road trip & googled you!! 👍🏻


Comments on posts older than 48 hours are moderated (for spam control) . Yours will be seen! Unless you are a troll. Serial trollers are banned.