YOU ARE SUPPOSED to plant basil on Good Friday and curse it, but I have always been too self-conscious to so this properly. I did say dams but so not think it helped much.

Basil does not require any help, anyway. It lovew beat and grows with abandon until the first frost, at which time it most desperately is dead, there is no doubt about it.

Everyone knows it is good to shred or chop up fresh, to exalt the flavor of tomatoes, but gardeners who have not grown it are unaware of its high perfume in th e garden.

On a hot July day nothing compares with the airborne incense of basil, I think.

It can still be planted from seed, and I have never thought early planting was any great advantage. I bought my seeds at the herb shop at Washington Cathedral, since their seeds always seem tosprout and you can count on finding borage, etc., there.

Basil comes in many varieties, and one year I grew several different sorts without being aware they were different. My favorite is a purple-red-leaf form called 'Dark Opal,' and I also grow the plain green bush basil.

I dug up a batch of tulips along a walk (though it is hazardous to have them out of the ground during summer ans they ofgen perish in storage) and have planted it solid with purple basil. The more active of our dogs has already discovered it.

One problem I have is where to put the green basil since I gave all the space to the purple, and by the time you read this, I must have found a solution somehow.

There is one spot where the cannas failed to come up, and the basil might go there, even though a self-sown angelica has shot up to five feet and I cannot quite bring myself to cut it down. Another possibility is to plamt it in half-barrel.

Half-barrels are ultimate joys. I walk to the garbage cans to made it four feet, but since then I have allowed this and that treasure to grow over the brick just a little, and I have several barrels of plants sitting at the edge of the walk and intruding perhaps 10 inches on the pavement. In one of them I have lavender, in another rosemary. Both these plants like lighter, sandier soil than I can manage in a border.

I am thinking of giving one barrel to Japanese irises, and another to the great mullein from Bulagria.

The green basil may get one. You can get an awful lot of basil in one half-barrel, provided you resist the temptation to stick in oddments sedums, rain lilies, portulacca, golden sage, houseleeks, artemisias - and yet one is always tempted.

Thing take so much time, and often other things interfere with progress in the garden. You would not believe how many hours I have lost, over the years, by having a job, and children and dogs have much to answer of, too.

One of the grandest subjects for a trouble-free half-barrel, by the way is the daylily, 'Golden Chimes,' which blooms for about a month in total abandon. I have a great clump, so it would be foolish to grow it in a tub. But on a sunny terrace with little gardening space it would be handsome.

In spite of me perhaps, the dahlias are growing right along. I did plant them well, though I know I will suffer later on for inadequate staking.

There is no way to fool a dahlia, and the slender six-foot bamboo stakes that I used are utterly worthless for their purpose. One of these years when I am rich. I intend to buy "closet poles" two inches in diameter these poles support clothes hangers) and for once I would then have stakes stout enough for dahlias.

Despite the winter, which I think we have allenjoyed bollering about from November on, the damage was trifling. For some reason we missed those May rainstorms that are so carefully timed to ruin the roses, peonies and irises. Since the rains did not bash in everything this May. I think we are entitled to now complain about the absence of rain, but I am holding off because I believe early June will be disastrously wet, thus permitting complaints about downpours before getting ready for complaints about drought. After half a century, I now realize there is no way for the weather to be right, because what is right for one plant is wrong for another.

Gardeners are brave and make do, accasionally ceasing from gripes long enough to notice cornucopias.