Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Parsley, Sage and an Herbaceous Tribute to Brit Crime TV

Dad's herb garden
"Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme ..." The first time I heard this song was in an elementary school music class. I wasn't too impressed with it at the time. Maybe the melody seemed slow and melancholy. Maybe the lyrics seemed a little bit odd. I wasn't sure what parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme had to do with going to Scarborough Fair, and I wasn't sure why the first person narrator, if he wanted a true love, demanded she make him a cambric shirt. That is certainly an odd wooing ritual. "My fair lady, I feel you are my true love. If you want to be my true love ..." Snap! "Make me a shirt." It seems like the ritual should be reversed, and the wooer should be doing kind deeds for the woman he is trying to win. "My fair lady, please accept these wildflowers as a token of my admiration."

All these years later, I am still not enlightened about the connection between herbs and Scarborough Fair or any of the other enigmatic lyrics, but I've gained some appreciation for it. That may have changed when I heard this version of it by Hayley Westenra of Celtic Woman.

A bit of this musical theme is worked into the theme song of one of my favorite TV mystery series, "Rosemary and Thyme."

It's a good cozy mystery for those who like a good mystery that won't show graphic violence or close-ups of bodies and their various injuries at the medical examiner's table. The show's heroines are two friends named Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendal) and Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris) who are in the gardening business together. The coincidence of two friends with such names who also happen to be gardeners doesn't seem too probable, but it's charming. The two also have detective/sleuthing skills however. Laura is a former policewoman, and Rosemary is a plant pathologist. Rosemary's plant expertise is useful in unraveling each mystery, often but not always involving toxic plants. It's also a visually beautiful show, because each episode is in some different fantastic garden somewhere. There's some mild humor woven into the stories too, which I enjoy. So, if you'd rather see roses than bullet wounds, this is the mystery show for you.

Photo from Acorn TV

Photo from Acorn TV
My father has been keeping an herb garden for quite a few years now in his retirement, and this garden has all four of the herbs mentioned in the song plus chives, tarragon, basil, marjoram, lavender and peppermint. How nice this will be for any cooking this season. I love the taste of fresh herbs but particularly basil and rosemary. Mom read about how feverfew might help migraine headaches, so for my sake, they added this to the herb garden. See my earlier post on migraine and music therapy.

Dad recently emailed me photos of his herb garden, mainly to show me this ...

And this ...

which were side by side in the garden.

Cute, Dad. Very cute.

Not to tire you with too many different renditions of "Scarborough Fair," the Gothard Sisters have a nice harmonic version and are interesting to watch with their graceful movement and different instruments.


  1. Always liked Felicity Kendal, though this isn't her best work...

    1. Can you name some other movies or shows she's been in? This is the only show of hers that I am familiar with so far.