good gardening

Planting for Pleasure

By Kate Bryant June 10, 2010

What a surprise — it’s raining torrentially again today!

Instead of being out making gardens, I find myself inside the house, staring balefully out at the rain and cursing.

A little while ago, I opened the back door to shake a fist at the sky, in good family tradition, and noticed something wonderful… the poet’s jasmine vine (Jasminum officinale ‘Affine’) that I planted about three years ago is finally doing what I originally fantasized it would do: twining voluptuously up the old ladder leaning against the back of the house and around the back door stoop, as well as up and around my bathroom window.

What’s so great about this twining business, you ask? Well, sitting on the back stoop with a cup of tea or glass of wine or soaking in the tub on a June evening while basking in the heady, intoxicating scent in jasmine provides a direct line to happiness in my book.

While the rain is miserable and we are all saying we are done with it – as if our wishes on this subject mattered one iota – at least being stuck in the house allowed me to notice that this fabled plant, beloved to Cleopatra (the fragrance neroli is derived from jasmine – oops, correction: neroli is derived from orange blossom, not jasmine! – but jasmine was reputedly beloved to Cleopatra!) is blossoming and twining as I’d always hoped it would.

So what’s to learn from this story? You can feed your appreciation for and connection to the garden by planting what you love in the places you where you spend your most precious time. This is one very important facet of gardening: cultivating beauty, appreciation and nourishment of the soul and senses.


Rich purple new growth in spring, soft pink buds and pure white, intensely fragrant flowers – there’s clearly much to love about cold-hardy, semi-evergreen Jasminum officinalis ‘Affine’. Once established, it’s also tolerant of summer heat and drought – perfect for a climate like Portland’s.

For you, maybe stepping out the back door and plucking ripe grapes from the vine would be the height of gardening pleasure. Or gathering bunches of fresh herbs for dinner or admiring the imposing, muscular architectural forms of spiky succulents. For me, it’s inhaling the scents of the Mediterranean – jasmine, as well as plants like Cistus and thyme, all producing floral or foliar scents that send me back to happy experiences with family and friends. That’s why the three plants closest to my back stoop, where I love to sit, are… jasmine, Cistus and thyme.

To create more joyful spaces in your garden, start small – perhaps just with your own back stoop. There, plant the beginnings of an oasis that will nourish you from the inside – something you can experience right when you step outside your door. What might that be? Then – and this is most important – take the time to appreciate it and drink it in as it grows.

Filed under
Show Comments