Last Saturday, free of my children’s sporting commitments, I spent all morning, (and a good part of the early afternoon) browsing the fabulous Eveleigh Farmer’s Market and surrounding cafes and antique stores. An all time favourite activity that sadly has been usurped by the hustle and bustle of family life. There was a nostalgic time, long, long ago, when my Saturday morning routine comprised of little more than collecting the weekend newspaper, adjourning to a favourite cafe for a long leisurely breakfast, and visiting the local markets for farm fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers.
When my children were very young, I doggedly followed that routine, albeit not in as a relaxed fashion. Bribing them with baby cappuccinos and an assortment of tasty titbits from the always obliging, always engaging and smiling stallholders. There came a time, however, when their busy schedules took over and my leisurely Saturday mornings were sacrificed to the time consuming madness of criss-crossing Sydney in the deference to the holy grail of Saturday sport. How I love school holidays and the opportunity to relax and rediscover a more leisurely pace of life. Me time has evolved into a jealously guarded commodity, and so it was that my friend Ros and I conspired to reclaim our Saturday morning.
This gorgeous hessian herb garden comes from a whimsically named stall Julie’s Garden Path at Sydney’s inner city Eveleigh Farmer’s Market. The exotic and not so readily available Japanese shiso caught my eye. Beautifully planted in a hessian sack. On closer inspection I was delighted to find the planting included an interesting and vibrant array of other herbs; green and purple Thai basil, rocket, oregano, thyme, chives and two varieties of chilli. Perfect for my back deck. A Christmas present to myself, and subtle reminder to make more time for me.
I have always loved herbs and the romantic notion of nipping out to the garden and snipping a little bit of this and that to complement my cooking. It’s what my mother and grandmother did. No wilting or decaying market purchased herbs in the refrigerator. The problem is I’m no green thumb. Far from it. I have an appalling track record of killing plants. Not so much through neglect I suspect but with too much kindness. My father is still shaking his head over the latest casualty, a very robust chilli plant that managed to survive the frosts of a Canberra winter, before being transported to Sydney in the Spring.
A quick conversation with the stall holder, Julie, about my lack of gardening prowess ensued. It seems all I need to do to keep my hessian herb garden healthy is ensure the herbs do not get too much sun (easily achieved by rotating the position of the sack in my very sunny, north-facing courtyard), water sparingly (every other day, checking the soil retains a little moisture at all times ) and snip often. These simple steps should ensure my little herb garden rewards me with a constant supply of fresh herbs over the next four months. A gift that should keep on giving. I’m determined to keep it alive and thriving. So far, so good.