Let’s talk about herbs tonight. Why? Because it’s a Friday night and I’m hungry. Did you know that there is actually a National Herb Society and Museum that you can visit that have beautiful collections of every herb imaginable arranged in stunning displays that are bound to capture the wonder and imagination of the auspicious gardener? The website boasts that its the largest “designed” herb garden in North America.
Don’t take my word for it. Take a virtual journey to Washington D.C. and open your mind to the possibilities. While you are at it, check out the National Herb Society. Once you do, you will never look at herbs the same again because you will come across terms like knot gardens that will have you second guessing garden plans with simple rows.
The Benefits and Uses of Herbs
My husband likes to entertain the neighbors with wild tales about the (illicit) plants that he implies I’m growing under heat lights, but truth be told I’m really just into flowers… Herbs can be used for a wide range of applications. Top of mind to me are culinary, fragrance, and cut flowers. Some people have thoughts about medicinal properties, but thats a separate topic for someone else with more experience in that area. I use herbs to cook with, but I also toss them into salads; boil in homemade teas; and make cut flower arrangements. One of my favorites is Lavender.
I cannot say enough about lavender. I am currently growing at least six different lavender cultivars, some of which are edible, but others earned a space in my garden because they produce the most beautiful flowers and/or smell so good. Bucci pinnate is one of my favorites and produces rows of elegant peppery long stem flowers . (They are native to the Mediterranean region, but can be grown in pots or garden beds in Chicago.) By the way, if you are a beginner gardener, herbs are probably the easiest plants to grow and you will have extras to share with friends, coworkers, and family.
The assignment this week is to make a list of the herbs you keep in your kitchen and then check out the National herb garden. Keep building out your inspiration plant list. You can always reassess and make cuts later.
Key Factors for Consideration:
Consider the properties of different cultivars and potential uses: Fragrance, Culinary, and Cut Flowers, e.g., check out aromatto basil, which smells like licorice and has a sweet taste, and piccolo basil which grows in small mounds like a ball topiary.