With years of experience and lots and lots of water, that’s how!
Twenty-six raised garden boxes at The Garlands of Barrington sit dormant all winter, like blank canvases, waiting for gardeners to bring life and color to their beds. Twenty-eight gardeners, including The Garlands own Chef Nicola, armed with trowels, seeds and stakes plant their organic masterpieces each spring, a tradition that started when the first garden boxes were built in 2005.
Tomatoes are a perennial favorite, while eggplant is among the more uncommon veggies grown. This summer Garlands gardeners harvested a bumper crop of beans, and Chef Nicola says basil and thyme are the most used herbs in his garden.
The green-thumbed Garlands gardeners say watering daily is the best advice they can give—those veggies are thirsty!
Meet two talented Garlands gardeners and find out why harvesting the fruits of their labor keep them digging in the dirt.
When Soil is in Your Blood
There are avid gardeners and then there are truly devoted gardeners, like Joanne Larson, who never misses a summer planting.
Garlands member and lifelong gardener Joanne sowed her first seed as a toddler on the family farm along the banks of the Mississippi River.
“Gardening has been very important to me my whole life,” says Joanne. “Family history tells me I had my first garden at age three!”
This summer at The Garlands, she is growing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, beans, kohlrabi, swiss chard, and several herbs—not to mention fresh catnip for her lucky cat, Eloise!
“I’m very pleased with the raised garden beds here. They are one of the reasons we moved to The Garlands!” says Joanne, a longtime garden club member, who left her prized American Daylily Society display garden with more than 700 varieties behind when she relocated to the upscale (and garden-friendly!) retirement community three years ago.
Fresh-cut flower bouquets are another perk that planter Joanne credits to the petunias, zinnias and cosmos growing in her garden. And thanks to another bumper crop this year, Joanne is cooking with fresh vegetables all summer long and sharing her bounty with neighbors and family.
All About the Herbs
Herbs are good for the body and growing herbs can be good for the soul, according to longtime herb gardener and Garlands member Cathy Nardo.
An herb grower for more than 40 years, Cathy had a successful home-based herb business for 20 years and continues to lecture on herb folklore.
Cathy’s herb fascination kicked into high gear after her third child was born and she left a career as a retail buyer to be home with her kids.
“I was growing my herb business while I was growing my kids,” says Cathy, an entrepreneur who turned her harvest into profit by making and selling soaps, bath products and wreathes at juried art and craft fairs and from her home.
In her Garlands garden today, Cathy grows about 30 varieties of herbs, which she uses to make herb vinegars, butters, pesto and other delicious aromatic concoctions.
The Garlands raised beds make it easy to continue gardening on a smaller scale—and usually keep the critters out. That is until recently when Cathy says a rabbit hopped up in her garden bed and made a nest lined with lemon verbena and other fresh-scented herbs! Who could blame the bunny?
To learn more about The Garlands, visit www.thegarlands.com or call 847-304-1996.