The phrase ‘Variety Is the Spice of Life’ implies that interacting with all sorts of people and participating in different activities makes life more enjoyable. William Cowper coined this phrase in 1785 in his poem ‘The Task.’ He wrote, “Variety is the very spice of life that gives it all its flavor.” I love his philosophy, and when I read this, I can’t help but think that this ideology extends past our lives and into our gardens. After all, there are thousands of varieties of fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs, shrubs, and trees that we can grow in our gardens. If you’re in any doubt, pick up a seed catalog. These tantalizing catalogs are brimming with thousands of seed varieties just waiting for us to try. So, why not try them? Why not add a little variety to your garden? Grow something different this season; you never know when you might find a new favorite or taste a flavor that you wonder where it’s been all your life.
In the dead of winter, there is nothing I enjoy more than flipping through dozens of seed catalogs deciding which new varieties will grace my garden beds in the upcoming season. Oh, the varieties! My mind always races with the possibilities. A unique purple snow pea? I have to try that! A Cosmos variety with stripes? Add it to my cart! Look at all the dry beans in a dizzying array of colors! I want to grow them all! Variety is the spice of life, but how will I ever choose which new cultivars I should plant to spice up my garden life?
Now, I would never suggest that you stop growing your favorites. Of course, by all means, continue to plant those, we all need a little consistency in our lives. I couldn’t imagine a growing season without Brandywine Pink or Sunny Boy tomatoes, Provider and Gold Rush Wax Bush Beans, and Green Arrow shelling peas gracing my garden beds. However, I always leave room to plant something new. The excitement and anticipation of trying a variety I’ve never grown before certainly keeps my gardening life interesting.
In 2018 I declared my garden plan ‘The Year of the Tomato’ and grew fifteen different varieties of tomatoes. Oh, how wonderfully exciting it was to keep a log of the differences in growth, taste, and color, delighting the family with taste tests where we all adamantly declared our favorites! Another year, I took the plunge and grew the beautiful Blue Jade corn and tried my hand at growing Jacob’s Cattle and Calypso dry beans. How wonderful they tasted that winter in our favorite soup and baked bean recipes! Yet another, I swooned when I grew the fun and impressive Huckleberry Gold and Pinto Gold potatoes.
This year I am planning on many new varieties that I’ve never grown before, including Red Darling Brussels sprouts, Beauregarde and Golden Sweet snow peas, Dutch Red shallots, and Chocolate Runner and Haudenosaunee Skunk pole beans, to name a few. Don’t even get me started on how many different annual flower varieties I’m planning to try. Let’s just say I’m weak when it comes to narrowing down choices. Plus, it was a very long winter, and I visited those seed catalogs often. There are so many mesmerizing cultivars to choose from, but Cosmos and Zinnias top my list this season. I hope that both my garden and my home will be bursting with a bountiful selection of blooms.
My garden has taught me many things over the years, one of which is that I shouldn’t be afraid to experiment and try new things, whether that means growing a unique variety of corn or beautifully colored dried beans or new types of potatoes. I’ve found that the same is true in life. Why not try that unfamiliar recipe you spotted in a cookbook, or take a class you’re interested in, or try a new hobby? Keep your life enjoyable with new activities and adventures both inside and outside the garden. Taking a cue from what William Cowper penned, I think trying new varieties in the garden will undoubtedly give our lives all its flavor. So, what new variety are you planning to try this season? Let me know how it goes and happy gardening!