Wonderfulherbs for the garden

Published on Thu, May 20, 2004 by B. Durbin Wean

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Wonderful herbs for the garden

By B. Durbin Wean

Can any garden be complete without herbs? In my mind it can’t, so let’s plant herbs. This is one of the few times I say, if one is good, more is better, lots better! As well, the more variety, the more interesting the garden.

There are some herbs that can be dried and won’t lose their fragrance such as bay, sage, rosemary and thyme; however, others need to be grown by you if you want to taste or use them at their best. Some of these herbs are chervil, basil, lovage, dill, tarragon, marjoram, parsley and chives.

Did you know that there are trees that are considered herbal? For instance, there is the hawthorn whose ripe fruits are known as an excellent tonic for the heart and circulatory system, and Ginkgo Biloba whose leaves and seeds are used medicinally in China. The leaves of silver birch are antiseptic. English oak yields dye and tannin and has been valued for centuries. Norway spruce has a medicinal pitch, while juniper berries are used as flavoring and antiseptic. Common in the northwest is the elderberry which is used to make elderberry wine from bunches of purplish-black juicy berries. The berries are rich in vitamin C and are a main ingredient in some jellies and cordials. They are a veritable grocery store of goodies. I’m not necessarily recommending these herbal trees but they might bear more investigation if you are interested.

Here are some herbs to grow and use with your meals. Try beef with marjoram, rosemary and sage. Chicken is great baked whole with basil, dill, parsley, marjoram, sage, savory, tarragon, and thyme. Salads, soups, vegetables are all improved with the addition of one or two of the following: dill, basil, tarragon, savory, oregano and parsley. Experiment!
Other uses for herbs are in the fragrances that we love to use in our homes, like potpourri which may include lavender, bergamot, rose petals and mock orange. There are many recipes for lovely fragrances that can be used for different applications. Today there is a tremendous emphasis on natural cosmetics, soaps, and skin care products and if you are interested it would be fun to do more investigation on the types of products you could create from your home grown herbs. Use the internet, library and your local bookstores.

People love getting and giving gifts grown and created from your home garden. At Christmas one year I gave my daughters and friends pomander made from fresh oranges that I spent countless hours piercing with cloves. If you want to try this, buy small oranges or you will start to think you will never get it finished by Christmas. Make sure all the cloves are punched in close together. The orange will swell and then start drying and shrinking. By Christmas, they will be dry and smell exquisite. Then you can add a thin ribbon to your pomander so the giftee will be able to hang it in a closet. You can make fresh or dried arrangements of bowls of dried lavender, sachets, flowered baskets and topiary. The nifty thing about herbs is that the more imaginative you are, the more you and your family and friends will be able to enjoy the fruits of your garden all year.

Herbs are generally easy to grow. For most herbs, it is only necessary to provide good soil, plenty of sun, water and protection from the wind.