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  • Summer Nights Breath Life Into A Garden Of Remembrances
    (Grandma's Garden Yield's Magical Moments)

    Page 2
    Continued from page 1

    Italian Memories

    by Cookie Curci

    Growing up in a small coastal village in Italy, near the Adriatic Sea, she learned early on that fish was the best fertilizer for fruit trees, and cucumbers caught the best sunlight when planted near a northern fence, and the best time to plant parsley was on Good Friday. In March, on the feast of St. Joseph, she seeded her flowering herbs, knowing instinctively just when to pick them and which ones to use for what illness: chamomile tea for a good night's sleep, rosemary and mint to soothe a stubborn cold, basil to relax a nervous stomach, and sage to calm everything form a headache to a sore throat.

    Grandma, like Hippocrates, believed sage and chamomile were among the universal remedies. Chamomile was one of Nonna's most used herbs. She liked to steep three of four of the light, sweet leaves in a cup of hot water for about 10 minutes. the pungent, aromatic sage was used both as a tea and medicinal gargle. Lemon juice was added to the sage gargle to treat sore throats and canker sores. Nonna believed sage could also cure depression and headaches, and unclog a stuffy nose.

    Sweet Basil hugged the stepping stones along the garden path. It's pungent aroma filled our nostrils and lingered fragrantly on our clothing. Nonna steeped a teaspoon of dried basil leaves in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes as a cure for upset stomachs.

    March was for Grandma, and for all of us who enjoyed her bountiful garden, a time of great anticipation, a time of waiting for the burst of vegetable blossoms that came as a prelude to the flowers that were to grace her garden beds.

    In mid-August, a dazzling combination of annuals and perennials filled the sun drenched plots of Nonna's glorious garden. She knew that bright blossoms stood up best against the harsh rays of the noonday sun; for that reason golden sunflowers, silver cup lavatera, hollyhocks, delpheniums and snapdragons filled her sunniest locations. Nearby, in rutted rows, grew white pelargoniums, warm hued Goldsturm and Indian Summer rudbeckia.

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