I planted basil in this year's garden, some started inside in the spring, the rest sown carelessly in early June. It all came up. I have a hearty stand of basil.
I never picked it. Not a single leaf. Oh, I thought about it, thought about making pesto and other aromatic dishes, but other than to give some away, I didn't touch it. The first time it flowered, Warren and I dutifully lopped the buds off. We cut it one or two more times after that, then stopped. It has flowered all summer.
I've enjoyed having the basil patch even without picking a single stalk for my own use. When weeding, I would occasionally run my hands through the basil to release its fragrance. When the summer heat broke and we could finally sit out on our back deck in the evening, I would sometimes put down the book I was reading and sniff the still air faintly laced with basil. I've enjoyed the basil patch so much that I will plant another next year just for the scent.
The bees are in the basil. They showed up a few weeks ago—great hulking bees (carpenter bees, perhaps), smaller honeybees—and they have been working the basil patch furiously since then. They are so intent on their mining that I can stand close and take photos. There are so many of them that the basil patch hums if you listen.
My garden this summer has been mostly tomatoes and peppers, with zucchini grown in pots on the deck. The tomatoes are abundant; the peppers are adequate. The zucchini plants were prolific until they died suddenly one weekend in July. I've planted some more but I doubt we'll get a bloom before the sun turns too shallow for the plants to produce. It has been a good garden, despite the heat and the drought. I have been canning—tomatoes and salsa—and there are bags of zucchini slices in the freezer.
But the basil, and the bees in the basil! They have been the surprise package of the summer.