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Mint Julep

By Kathy Little

Fri, Aug 1st, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

“Build it and they will come” is an old saying. I say build a fence and people will wonder what is behind it just like in the “Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy wondered what was behind the curtain during an audience with the great wizard.

My husband built a tall wooden fence around our front yard. It helped soften the noise from the street and provided privacy. It also provoked a great deal of curiosity. Then he built a half-timbered tudor styled gazebo complete with floor and shingled roof topped with a cupola. After he screened it in, it became a great outdoor entertaining area.

Later, the birds started a grapevine that quickly covered much of the fence. He then placed some of his handcrafted pottery gnomes on top of the fence. Since no one could see through the fence (there was only one large knot hole), but could see the tree tops, the lilac bush tops, and the gazebo cupola rising above the fence; curiosity grew. Rumors about “a secret garden” were fueled by this curiosity. One neighbor complained that he couldn’t see what we were doing in our yard!

Eventually the police were involved. One evening about sunset I looked out my kitchen window and saw a highway patrolman wandering in our yard. Curiosity overcame me and I went out to talk to him. It was a former neighbor who said every time he drove by our house, he wondered what was behind our fence. Curiosity overcame his manners and he decided to find out. He apologized; I was flattered. We both had a good laugh!

Later, the day after Halloween, we noticed one of our bigger gnomes had been stolen. Just as we were grieving the loss, the town cop drove into our driveway with a passenger in his front seat. It was the missing gnome. Someone had kidnapped him and set him outside the liquor store as a prank. Since he was not damaged and we didn’t have to pay a ransom, all was well. My husband then glued the gnomes to the fence.

Little did we realize that this was not the last adventure our fence would provide! This year the Bluff Country Master Gardeners asked if our yard could be a part of their annual tour to raise money for Bluff Country Family Resources. I was flattered; my husband had reservations. We were reassured that this was not a competition, but simply a way for gardeners to exchange ideas. We agreed it was for a good cause.

Later we received the brochure describing the gardens on the tour. Many had water features, some had several acres dedicated to flowers and shrubs, and one was even a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat with over 1,000 hostas of 120 varieties. Good cause or not, PANIC ensued. Just to make our yard worthy we had much to do. Garden boot camp became a way of life for us: planting new beds, weeding, watering, buying an antique butterfly bench. We needed to “stage” our garden just like folks do on HGTV to sell a home except we were at the mercy of Mother Nature. Heat, humidity, and sore muscles did not make us happy, happy, happy! My husband blamed me, I apologized profusely, and by the day of the tour we were hardly speaking.

The morning of the tour, my husband took a load of brush to the dump. A lovely Master Gardener came to show our garden in the morning so I could go tour other gardens. In the afternoon, I had to face the music alone and guide people through my own yard. My husband refused to come outside just in case there were snide remarks like: “How did this garden ever get on the tour?”

During times of anxiety, I go on the offense. So if anyone made a disparaging remark about my garden, I would tell them to go quickly to another garden. Everyone was very polite and complimented me on the fence, gazebo, my husband’s art work, my large fairy rock garden, the peonies, and the ferns. They even laughed as I pointed out our only “water feature” our garden hose. Gardeners really are “the salt of the Earth.”

Later Jim and I celebrated in the gazebo with mint juleps in silver cups. We had sampled them in Savannah on vacation and purchased the cups there. This recipe is from my sister-in-law, Regan. Now I know why she was always growing mint!

Mint Julep

Makes 6 servings

2 cups sugar

1 cup water plus 12 oz. water reserved

8 mint sprigs for boiling and 5 sprigs for garnish

3 cups good bourbon

crushed ice

Dissolve the sugar in 1 cup water in a sauce pan, and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to medium- low and add 8 mint sprigs. Stir until the leaves are soaked and limp. Simmer for 10 minutes uncovered. Remove from heat, cool and strain. When the mixture has cooled, add the bourbon and the reserved water. Mix well. Fill 6 (16 oz.) glasses with crushed ice. Pour the mixture over the ice and garnish with mint sprig.

If you grow your own mint, beware. It does not play well with others, and like other bullies; it tramples over other herbs!

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