I remember standing in the kitchen watching the sun reflect off the colorful glass bottles lined up on my Mother’s windowsill. I do not remember all the plants that were rooting in the bottles, but I do remember the fragrance of mint. Mother put mint in our summer tea and I often chewed on a leaf, if one escaped into my glass.
Women of the 1940’s and 50’s were resourceful gardeners. Mother had little money to spend on plants; so she saved seeds, divided her perennials, and relied on friends to provide our small garden with “pass-a-long” herbs and vegetables. She was happiest when she had free time to work in her garden.
My parents were educators, Daddy, an elementary school principal and Mother, a classroom teacher. Summers were a reward for the long hours in the classroom. Weekend get-togethers were spent with friends, which usually consisted of a game of cards or dominos.
We often enjoyed covered dishes using fresh garden vegetables, flavored with parsley, sage, and shallots. The shallots were dug from under the big tree in the side yard. I followed Mother most Sunday mornings on our ritual to that same tree where we dug garlic for our after-church roast beef luncheon, filled with potatoes, carrots, and onions from the garden.
It was not until I began my own herbal journey that I once again remembered the green, brown, and blue bottles on the sill. I had heard stories of how the colored bottles helped plants root. I am sure there is no scientific evidence, but they did seem to work for Mother and friends.
I had a difficult time rooting my rosemary cuttings and the green bottle of so long ago seemed like a good idea. I washed off the label from a small, green, glass bottle, carefully stripped the lower leaves from my rosemary cutting, and placed it in the water-filled bottle. The rosemary lived happily on my sill. I changed the water often and allowed the sun to reflect, just as Mother did so long ago. Before long, the rosemary cutting rooted and I felt as if Mother was there at my side encouraging me. With this success, I continue to use powerful green glass bottles for many of my herb cuttings.
Today when friends come to visit my garden, I am sure to gift them with a small green bottle and all the herb cuttings they desire, carefully explaining Mother’s method. I can just imagine Mother’s delight!
submitted by Mary Nell Jackson, Member at Large, South Central District