One garden and the fragrance of mint that changed my writing life

One day in the 1990s, when the car was in for service, I rented another and drove from Portland south to Aurora, a little town on the Pudding River. I'd long seen the signs that Aurora was an historical district and I wondered what was there. I found the museum first thing and paid the small fee for the tour and followed the docent around. There were maybe six of us on the tour. My cell phone rang and I could see it was from the car place but the signal wasn't strong enough for me to respond so I had to leave the tour, drive to a higher point in town and then get the news that my car needed more work and would I authorize it. Of course, Jerry was out in the field at the ranch during the day and I couldn't reach him and I didn't know whether it was real or not, whether I should give the mechanic the go ahead or wait another day until I could talk to Jerry that evening. It was all very annoying AND I was missing the tour.

I finally decided to tell the mechanic to go ahead -- who can feel safe if a mechanic is telling you the brakes are all bad? and risk Jerry's wrath if I'd messed up. I returned to the tour and got there in time for the Emma Wakefield Herb Garden visit.
Emma Wakefield Herb Garden in the background
Secretly, I think it was the herb garden with each plant labeled for what the colonists might have used that herb for in healing, cooking, cleaning, that really caught my attention. I loved the aroma, the colors, the names of those varied plants and the garden is what I remembered when I left that day. A few years later I wrote the Change and Cherish Series about Emma Giesy (not the namesake of the garden. Emma Wakefield was a contemporary woman who donated and then kept up that lovely garden plot just outside of Emma Giesy's home). Gardens in that era -- the 1850s -- were critical for family survival and I can still smell the mint that would have freshened the breath after one of those hefty German meals that Emma would have served. It was the garden that brought me back to Aurora and changed my writing life.

Do you think you could survive on produce only from your garden? What are must-haves in your garden, or if you don't have one, what would be your must-haves?