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First Herb Garden Based on a Song? Why Not!

It all started over nine years ago when I planted my first herb garden when living in the Beaux Arts cottage.   Not knowing what herbs to start with, I decided to plant Parsley, Sage & Thyme since there was already a HUGE Rosemary bush in the garden and the phrase “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme” was stuck in my head.   I figured it was from a song — I just didn’t know what song. 

This system of picking herbs actually worked out great for me.  Not only do I still grow all four of these herbs, but I’ve since added Oregano, Cilantro, Dill, Basil, Chives, Mint, Bay and Bee Balm to my garden.  It gave me a great foundation of easy to grow herbs without being overwhelmed. 

Now, some of you are probably still SHOCKED that I didn’t know what song these herbs were mentioned in.  (At least I knew it was from a song.)  Anyway, just the other day I remembered how I picked my first herbs and decided to find out what song it was from. 

And, well, you guessed it.  I had the 1966 song by Simon & Garfunkel called Scarborough Fair/Canticle stuck in my head.  Which was based on a ballad from the 1800’s.  What’s even better (according to Wikipedia) is that the pegans believed by combining these four herbs together you could create a love charm.   Good thing my “young & stupid” self didn’t know this or I may have tried it.

Here’s how the song goes:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt
(On the side of a hill in the deep forest green)
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
(Tracing a sparrow on snow-crested ground)
Without no seams nor needlework
(Blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain)
Then she’ll be a true love of mine
(Sleeps unaware of the clarion call)

Tell her to find me an acre of land
(On the side of a hill, a sprinkling of leaves)
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
(Washes the ground with so many tears)
Between the salt water and the sea strand
(A soldier cleans and polishes a gun)
Then she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to reap it in a sickle of leather
(War bellows, blazing in scarlet battalions)
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
(Generals order their soldiers to kill)
And to gather it all in a bunch of heather
(And to fight for a cause they’ve long ago forgotten)
Then she’ll be a true love of mine

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Peggy #

    I’m dating myself here but Simon and Garfunkel was one of my favorite bands when I was a teenager. And Scarborough Fair was my favorite song. I have the 4 herbs in my garden (plus a few more) as well.


    December 17, 2009
  2. Kala #

    Funny I know that song but never knew the words!


    December 17, 2009
  3. I remembered the chorus, but not all the words. Funny how things stick in your head.


    December 18, 2009
  4. Too funny you! heheh.
    Wow, so you lived in a Beaux arts cottage huh? I have always wondered about that place. Cool!

    I have most of the herbs you mentioned and I love them. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than the scents they give off. The mint can be quite a spreader but it’s worth it to me. And really, if you’re going to have to weed something it should look and smell as good as mint. I dried a whole bunch of it this year. Of course I have no idea of what to do with it. LOL

    I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. I hope you have a warm and wonderful time and that you are all surrounded by loved ones and friends.


    December 21, 2009
    • Beaux Arts Village was an amazing place to live. For almost five years I rented the last original artist cabin that the community was formed around. I’m sad to report that it was torn down about four years ago. It was falling apart (I lovingly called it “the shack”). Maybe I’ll write a story about the neighborhood and post pictures of my cottage/cabin/shack garden.

      I think you should make some tea with your dried mint! That’s what I wanted to do (never got around to it).


      December 22, 2009

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