By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
I enjoyed reading about favorite herbs so much that I wanted to give everyone a prize for responding to Win a Free Gardening Book . To be fair, though, I put each entry on a small slip of paper and drew to see who would receive Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening : A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden, by Deborah L. Martin.
Congratuations Cindy Pasqualini of Rhode Island. She submitted the following …
VIOLET is my favorite herb. It is the state flower of Rhode Island! It is chock full of Vitamin C. It looks gorgeous in salads and sugared on desserts! And it has the sweetest heart-shaped leaves!
A master gardener for many years Cindy is retired from gardening at home. She now lives in an apartment where she gardens in containers on her deck. She began gardening more than 30 years ago to study plants for painting. She currently sells her artwork on Etsy at etsy.com/shop/coloristcreations
Other contest respondents said …
- DILL. I love the smell and the taste. It reminds me of canning pickles, summertime, beet borscht that my Mom and Gramma always made. And, it’s so pretty. You don’t have to do anything to it in the garden, just sprinkle it around and it pops up everywhere.
- BASIL and all its cultivars! So many choices, great for digestion, easy to grow in pots, and a great bee plant.
- So many herbs are wonderful, but just smelling LEMON VERBENA puts the world right! It’s so relaxing, so summery, with that lightly sweet lemony scent!
- CHIVES. It’s a beautiful plant and will add a freshness and great onion taste, plus it adds a fresh look to any dish.
- It is very hard to pick one favorite, herbs are just such wonderful plants! WILD OREGANO from the mountains of Greece. From the wonderful smell when you walk by them to the delicious taste in my grandmother’s and mother’s cooking, oregano is an herb that I cannot live without. I plant it everywhere I move!
- LEMON VERBENA. It smells wonderful and looks so dainty, even though it is often a large shrub. It is easy to propagate and usually seems to survive our Northern California winters.
- It was hard to pick one since I am a fan of almost every herb. I love all kinds of MINT.
- CHAMOMILE. It is one of the first herbs I learned about and grow it every year.
- LAVENDER. Looking back as I was child, I always gravitated to it, both in smell and how it looked. As an adult and an aspiring herbalist, it is my go-to for a wide array of needs…skin care (a few drops in almond oil), slumber (my rice and lavender eye mask), and cooking (my delicious lemon & lavender shortbread cookies). And let me not forget…health and first aid! My family knows to reach for my bug bite salve with lavender EO. I love to grow it and run my fingers through it and inhale the delightful smell.
- MARJORAM! If I have toast with cottage cheese, tomato, and marjoram for breakfast, I walk the rest of the day like I’m in a shiny Disney movie.
- SPEARMINT. My neighborhood cat agrees with me: the hint of spearmint is so inviting. It makes refreshing mixed drinks, and delights the mouth when a sprig is chewed. Frozen or fresh it adds pleasure toothpaste in any dish. Dries up nicely and stores even better. The taste is pure adventure. I would like to see it growing in the mountains of Morocco.
- CHIVES. It’s good with just about anything…grows like crazy. And, when I’m out gardening just touching it and releasing that mild oniony smell…YUM.
- LAVENDER – in particular ‘Hidcote’ because it has vivid lavender blue flowers spikes and is compact. Lavender is such a versatile plant. Use it as an ornamental for edging in the garden, The silver-gray leaves give a wonderful accent and texture to the flower bed and the deer don’t like it. The flowers and the leaves release an intoxicating heavenly scent that reportedly soothes the nerves. The flowers make a delightful wreath and potpourri. They can be added to cookies to give a subtle herby taste and infused in lemonade give a whole new meaning to that summer thirst quencher.
- THYME. Not only does it manage to survive harsh winters here, but from the first warming spring sunshine it lends a delicious fragrance to my tiny kitchen garden. And it is so prolific, there is always plenty to season any dish I’m making. A little bit of heaven, this one.
- BASIL because it is easy to start and grow, smells wonderful – all varieties, not only makes salads and other recipes complete, but inspires my tomato plants to make more flowers (makes them feel sexy when the basil oil is released in the sunshine!) resulting in more tomatoes. And everyone knows tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella drizzled with a little balsamic dressing is fabulous.
- BASIL. What is better than pesto made by hand with fresh basil? Useful in the kitchen, the garden landscape, as an ornamental in arrangements, a pollinator for the bees and it loves our Texas summer heat.
- PARSLEY. It has health benefits. It is a great landscape plant, making a nice green border at the front of my perennial garden. It makes things I cook look better. And it is a host plant for swallowtail butterflies.
- ROSEMARY is probably my favorite. Its flavor is delightful in pasta, salads, and especially breads and rolls. I also like it in a rub for meats.