Thursday, September 9, 2010

Adult Pleasures III: Addictions

Of all the families that reside in my garden, the Lamiaceaes are the most colorful—not in the literal, but in the metaphoric sense.

The Lamiaceae family is itself quite respectable, and has given us such aristocratic, venerable personalities as sage and oregano, and the prissier, prudish lavender. But every celebrated family has its skeletons, its prodigal youth, its improbably outlandish characters usually beset by addictions of all sorts. The Lamiaceaes are the Walkers in my own garden drama version of Brothers & Sisters.

If Anise Hyssop, drag queen and sacred harlot that s/he is, is consumed by her/his own addictions, then mint has recently displayed his own addictions: coffee.

Yes, coffee.

I’ve planted mint in 2 sections of the garden, hoping it would vanquish neglected patches as mint is wont to do. But it hasn’t; my summer mojito season suffered greatly. True, I failed to amend the impenetrable clay, alkaline soil before planting, but I’ve seen mint in other Delaware (clay) gardens raid like the Norman invasion of England and thus, typical of the novice and the addict, assumed and expected too much.
Considering the consequences to my summer drink schedule, I salvaged a few remaining stalks and stuck them in water. Roots soon sprouted, and into a pot on the deck they went, nearest to the back door to the kitchen for quick and easy access in times of, well, thirst.

A European vacation came and went, the mint survived my absence (it did not flourish during this drought stricken summer, but then again few plants did), and one day I threw a clump of coffee grounds into the pot. This mass dose of nitrogen and calcium instigated a dramatic metamorphosis: five spindly stalks have become in a matter of 2.5 weeks a bushier clump of delectable leaves, ready to be muddled into favorite summer drinks.

Like good friends, we feed each others’ addictions.


  1. That's amazing! I wonder if mint likes the additional acid?

  2. Mint is really the only herb that can tolerate acid--and as my experience has shown, even thrive with the small amounts of acid added to the soil via coffee grounds. I hesitate to use the sulfur pellets I use for my acid loving Blue Nikko Hydrangea, and other acid lovers like the rhodies and azaleas.