The Joy of a Tea Garden

One of my more recent pleasures has been the creation of a tea garden in part of my backyard.  The header photo on my blog page is of part of that garden. It started when I decided to redo a part of my backyard by re-purposing leftover paving stones of varying sizes and shapes and other outdoor gardening items accumulated over 25 years.  I quickly had the beginnings of a unique space where I could retreat to enjoy a cup or tea or to sit with my friends over tea, sherry, or wine.  Combined with my growing love of succulents, I found the project to be fun and rewarding.

I also love looking for books about tea – any aspect of tea.  Coincidentally, I stumbled on a wonderful book, Tea Gardens: Places to Make and Take Tea.  Ms. Lovejoy is a landscape designer from the Northwest who has written several books as well as many articles on landscaping, gardens, plants, sustainable landscaping, etc.  This short book (115 pages) is a wealth of information about creating outdoor spaces in which to take and enjoy tea – either alone or with friends.  After an introduction entitled “TeaTime”, about the history and pleasure of enjoying tea, she devotes a chapter each to English, Japanese, Herbal, Cottage, and Container tea gardens.  She explores the cultural traditions, design elements and common plants found in each. As a non-gardening expert, I would have liked more pictures of the individual plants.  But the book might have lost a bit of its charm by expanding it so I’m quite content with it as is.  Being eclectic by nature and style, I loved learning about the various design elements and got several feature ideas to add to my garden, including my Japanese stone lantern.

This is such an informative little book that I have ordered several copies for various friends who also enjoy the art and pleasure of tea.  Here’s a fun quote I found about sundials:  “Since Elizabethan days, the herb garden sundial has invariably been underplanted with thyme, to perpetuate the classic herbal pun”.   Who knew?  I certainly did not.  As we say, I’m on the hunt!

She wraps her book up with a chapter on ways to use your tea garden – including brewing tea in the garden.  The book closes with a chapter on making your own herbal tea from your herb garden – a small but delightful group of recipes for a variety of teas from stimulating to tummy taming and Mock Earl Grey.  This little book opened a big world for me and I’m grateful for my accidental discovery.


2 thoughts on “The Joy of a Tea Garden

  1. Diane, had a great time reading about creating your “tea garden.” It reminded me of something I read a long time ago and have always kept in my mind to try some day. A wonderful ground cover to plant between pavers, etc., is creeping thyme. It is one of the few ground covers on which you can walk and, as you do, the scent of the thyme will be released and float up to you! Doesn’t that sound great? Also, it is supposedly a manageable ground cover, in that it will not take over your space, and will grow in any light.

    • Thanks so much Jean. I think that the thyme you mention might be the same that they use under the sundials. I have some paving stones in my tea garden but no sundial yet. On the list for 2013 and will definitely use this. 2013 is also the year for the larger herb garden down one side of the house so will see about using it there also. Thanks for your comment.

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