Ideas to Make Herb Garden Markers

Ideas to Make Herb Garden Markers

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

I love herbs and I love making things, especially simple craft projects with immediate gratification. Combining them in the garden makes me happy.

This year, I’m overwhelmed by garden marker ideas. So many choices that I may choose different styles for pots and gardens.

I thought, for this post, I’d let pictures tell the story. Each craft is fairly self-explanatory and different approaches will appeal to different gardeners or different locations.

Corks star twice, first on skewers with names written in permanent marker. And, perhaps more decoratively, on fork tines with my best printing in black ink.

20170511_191210Silverware makes a second appearance with names stamped on flattened spoons. This is perhaps the most time consuming of my efforts. My dad flattened the cutlery in his workshop and I bought the stamping supplies at Joann stores. I’ve also seen them on

Speaking of spoons, last year I painted wooden spoons and printed names on them. Bright red added a festive touch to our patch of kitchen herbs and peppers.


Craft - Spoon markers (14)

20170515_180816And, finally, it felt a bit like cheating, but I stalked the “dollar spot” at Target and found a variety of different options. These chalkboard stakes were among them.

Show us your favorite garden markers – handmade or purchased.

‘Silver Drop’ Eucalyptus 2016’s Most Popular for The Grower’s Exchange

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

eucalyptus-silver-dropIf everyone else is doing it, I often run the other way. Or so I’d like to think. I consider myself my own woman making my own decisions without an external script. (WestWorld anyone?)

Unless everyone else is growing an herb. Then, I want to be part of the club.

I was surprised when The Grower’s Exchange announced that its bestseller for 2016 was Eucalyptus, Silver Drop. I would have expected something better known.

“Always in the top 5, but never a winner, this year, eucalyptus pushed out lemongrass and would have done even better had we not run out near the end of the spring,” says grower/owner Brisco White.

eucalyptus-silver-drop-2The reasons, he says, are a mystery. “What makes for a winner? Who knows? Why Beanie Babies one year, and Cabbage Patch another?  Could it have been effective marketing? A trend in medicinal treatments? An article in a major publication that ramped up demand? What we do know is that we are growing a lot more for 2017.”

While a number of eucalyptus cultivars exist, ‘Silver Drop’ is popular for its deep, silvery green scalloped leaves and a growing habit that can be shaped into a wide shrub with ease. It’s prolific and can grow up to 40 feet, but is best kept to four to five feet.

“It smells incredible, can handle a drought, resists deer and insects and actually provides nectar in the summer to bees, hummingbirds and butterflies,” notes White. “It’s also easy to grow and we cut tons of it to add to both fresh and dried arrangements. We even have it for holiday decorating.”

Silver drop can be grown during hot summers in most regions, and lacking a long and harsh frost, it is hardy to Zone 7. With plenty of light, it might even over-winter indoors.

Those reasons explain its popularity well to me. I plan to order it for my summer garden in Northeast Ohio and keep it in the kitchen window with my bay tree next winter. I want to be part of this club.

Bring Your Credit Card to Asheville’s River Arts District

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

If you’re one of the 250-plus HSA members attending the 2016 Annual Meeting, April 29, in Asheville, N.C., bring your credit card. The River Arts District has inspiring art you’ll want to take home.

For me it was a watermelon tourmaline ring. The ring was Asheville - ringsynchronicity. I’ve wanted a watermelon tourmaline ring for 20 years. Every now and then I’d visit NEOMA rock shop in Northeast Ohio lusting after slices of the pink and green stone. I’d make
hints to my ex-husband. (Maybe that’s why he’s an ex; he couldn’t hear me.)

Anyway, I could never bring together beauty and budget.

Just two weeks before my trip to Asheville, I’d renewed my quest, searching for the perfect piece. I must have wasted an hour drooling. But nothing was quite me.

Asheville artistEureka! I stumbled into Bluebird Designs studio in Asheville and knew I couldn’t leave without the chunky sterling silver and gemstone ring.

For your own shopping epiphany,  you must get a River Arts District guide. Peruse online, but you’ll save printer ink if you pick up one in town.

Know that 200 artists are housed in a string of 22 converted industrial and historical buildings on a one-mile stretch along the French Broad River. This is not a mall, but a walking or driving tour. You may go by foot and pick up your art later. Or even have it shipped home. We drove because I’d recently had foot surgery.Asheville RAD

You’ll find notable artists like Matt Toomey making sculptural art baskets and hand-dyed, felted wearables at Dyed in the Wool Designs.  And those are just a tease.

The studio guide will help you decide which buildings hold the art medium/artists you’re most interested in. And, that will help you make the best use of your time. NOTE: Some studios require climbing stairs

Know that, true to their reputation, artists may keep funky hours. You’re most likely to find them in their studios on weekends.

Tell us about your favorite Asheville artist.

Herb Jewelry Makes a Statement

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

Sage Leaf headbandsWhen I dress, I do it consciously. To fit in. To stand out. To make a statement. Details depend on my mood and event. For work, I’m conservative, for a party playful.

As I’ve elevated my social conscience, I attend environmental and farm-to-table events – dinners, farm market fundraisers, workshops and such. I’m even going to a farm-themed wedding in October. For these occasions, I want my attire to play a supporting role.

On a junking trip with my mom, I found a vintage necklace with porcelain strawberries and miniature straw baskets hanging from silver filigree links. What fun to wear for a farm event and worth the $25.

At our next stop, an antique store, I found a gold electroplated leaf of curly parsley. For $4!!! I’ve seen maple leaves and gingko leaves, but parsley? Score.Sage Leaves rose Quarts necklace (1)

Game on.

I want classy or kitschy, but not mass production. I’ll scour first- and second-hand. Ah, but Google “herb jewelry” and the credit card is in danger.

My favorite botanical jewelry artist is Michael Michaud. I first encountered his work at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. He creates with the lyrical parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme as well as lavender, basil and peppermint. It’s so hard to choose.

After drooling over Michaud’s fine art collection, I turned to for handcrafted interpretations. And, what fun I had.

I found dried herb material in tiny glass vials as pendants or leaves encased in resin for rings and bracelets. I stumbled on herbs stamped into precious metal and polymer clay. I discovered them cast in metal or electroplated.  Entire etsy “shops” are dedicated to glass beads that look like spikey lavender blooms.

Just shut down my PayPal account already.

Ginamarie Engels from of MyriadMirage in Nyack, New York, presses sage, lavender, eucalyptus between glass or casts them in resin to create pendants, cuffs, earrings and more. These  “terrariums” stop time.

“My ideas are inspired by nature,” says Gina. “Sometimes I wake up and feel inspired to share an herb’s beauty. I want to share the artistry in nature.”

lavender framed
Spin the globe east to Sochi, Russia, where Tamara Borisova  surrounds lavender sprigs with wooden frames and encases all in resin.

“I live in a beautiful city with a huge variety of plants,” writes Tamara. “These are the northern subtropics in the world. I live in the city center, but the forest is growing behind my house. How do I not get inspiration here?”

Lavender with its texture and color is a favored muse. But, chives and dandelion fluff move the creative spirit of Isabell Kiefhaber of Kirchheim Germany.

“Very often, I’m inspired just by being around with open eyes on the details of life,” she says. “I zoom in on things or moments and keep them in mind. The fast heartbeat of cities like Berlin or the slow-motion climbing into mountain areas can be inspiring. Usually situations of everyday life, put into another context, are the biggest inspiration.chive blossom pendant

These three young women are just few of artists moved by herbs. An Etsy search for herb jewelry can busy me for hours.

What herbal jewelry have you found at retail, art shows or online?



Get Your Daily Herb-Inspired Deal

Get Your Daily Herb-Inspired Deal

The Herb Society of America is offering “10 Days of Giving.” That’s a daily sale on items from the Garden Gallery. At 9 a.m. EST from December 1 to December 10, the deal-of-the-day will be listed on the Herb Society home page.  That special price will expire at midnight.

These herb-inspired items make great holiday gifts. Think: One for me, one for Mom. One for me, one for Grandpa.

Get started with Tuesday’s deal … Anne Ophelia Dowden Notecards marked down 33 percent. I use mine to say Thank You, Get Well and more in a personal way.

Need more holiday gift giving ideas?

You may have missed HSA’s November Open House. But, you can still be inspired by the vendors who sold handcrafted products. Browse pictures from that day to see soaps, jellies, tiles, salts and more.

McCormick takes organic herbs mainstream

By Laura Dobson, Master Gardener, Local Food Advocate and Guest Writer


If I searched my mother’s herb-and-spice cabinet, I’d find dated McCormick tins, their red, white and blue labels giving them away. My mom probably uses what’s in those tins despite Kennedy-era expiration dates. In fact, last year’s Christmas dinner probably included some. Despite my concern with eating quality, local, organic food, I’ve stayed out of my mom’s kitchen supplies.

Not anymore …it’s time for her to replace the old seasonings. McCormick & Co. is making it easier to eat my way. The company recently announced that the majority of its herbs and spices will be organic and non-GMO by 2016. Not only can mom appeal to my food ethic … if I’m not growing an herb, I can now run to the corner store for, say, oregano. In the past I’d have traipsed 25 miles to the nearest Whole Foods or other organic store.

LauraAs a staunch supporter of GMO labeling (and signer of every petition to mandate it), I appreciate McCormick’s new labeling. Certainly many of their products are already non-GMO, but this new labeling standard will tell foodies what to expect. For example, vanilla extract has been among the non-GMO products; it is now labeled as such. Another little-known, but important, tidbit is that McCormick products are never irradiated; something lower-end products are likely to experience.

Food irradiation is to food what pasteurization is to dairy products: it can improve the safety and extend the shelf life of foods by reducing or eliminating microorganisms and insects. However, irradiation can damage the quality of the food and no one has yet proven that a long-term diet of irradiated foods is safe for humans. This makes me as happy as the organic and GMO-free announcement.

So, if you don’t grow it, should you replace your current herb stash? As a purist, I’d say it’s a healthy move. Why eat something that was sprayed with pesticides or genetically modified to resist Round-Up?! Maybe I can finally convince my mother that it’s time to put those tin cans on display as antiques and purchase fresh new jars for her herb cabinet.

Crazy for Catnip

Crazy for Catnip

Reprinted with permission of The Humane Society of the United States *  By Arna Cohen


catnip To ‘nip or not to ‘nip—that is the question.

‘Tis nobler for kitty owners to follow the dictum of “just say no,” or to grant their pets the occasional sniff of medicinal herbs and, in so doing, liven up their lives?

While some might hesitate to let their cats experiment, experts agree that, for the majority of felines, there’s nothing to ponder: Life is much more interesting with catnip.

A member of the mint family, Nepeta cataria contains nepetalactone, a chemical that takes cats to their crazy place. Scientists don’t know exactly how catnip acts on the feline brain, but they theorize that nepetalactone mimics cats’ “happy” pheromones and stimulates the corresponding neural receptors.

The resulting effects are well-known: A few whiffs can make even the laziest kitty couch potato roll, rub, flip, race around the house, drool, and generally lose his dignity. Catnip revs up almost every cat species, from 400-pound lions to pint-sized sand cats. Tigers seem to be resistant—and not every domestic cat responds. It takes a while for kittens to acquire the taste; an estimated 20 to 30 percent never do.

Catnip sensitivity is hereditary, and if a cat doesn’t possess a genetic predilection for the herb, he will forever turn up his nose. It’s not that he can’t smell it; it simply does nothing for him.

For cats blessed with an affinity for the plant, it can provide variety and stimulation. It can pacify an angry cat or bring a shy one out of his shell.

But before you start thinking of the herb as a panacea for all that might ail your kitty, you need to know how your cat takes his catnip—and how he reacts to it.

Friends 009Cats get the “catnip crazies” when they sniff the dried plant and inhale the oils, but eating it has a sedative effect. ‘Nipper madness can take a few forms—the drooling fool who rubs himself in it and squints his eyes in delight; the possessed creature who claws the rug, disembowels his toy, and tears around the house; and the occasional ‘nipper tripper who becomes hyped up and territorial, swatting and growling at anyone who tries to get near. After the initial reaction, most cats mellow out for a while, staring blissfully into space.

A cat’s body language will provide clues as to whether she’s enjoying the experience

A catnip episode typically lasts 5 to 10 minutes, after which the cat loses interest. Offering more catnip won’t work; it takes up to an hour or two for her to “reset” and become susceptible again. And the novelty can wear off if she is exposed too often—so don’t overdo the revelry.

‘Nip Tips

IMG_0655The bliss-inducing catnip herb originated in Mediterranean climates and was brought to the New World by colonists as an essential part of their medicine cabinet, used in tea form as a remedy for colds, indigestion, and insomnia. Catnip cat toys were first sold in America just after the turn of the 20th century by A.C. Daniels, a specialist in veterinary medicines who offered hollow wooden balls and loose catnip to fill them. Today’s toys take every shape imaginable, from fish and mice to former presidents. Products are available in all price ranges, from a few dollars for a bag of felt rodents to double digits for a plaything with organically grown herb. Follow these tips to make sure your pet is getting the most out of her foray into catnip.

  • The quality and the freshness of the catnip have a lot to do with the intensity of the animal’s experience, says Leon Seidman, founder of Cosmic Pet Products. Low-quality catnip consists mostly of seeds and stems that may not have enough nepetalactone to stimulate a cat. If your ‘nip lover doesn’t react to an inexpensive toy, it may contain old herb or so little of it that your cat can’t detect it, says Seidman. (Or he just may have champagne tastes.)
  • Catnip’s potency fades with age, so buy it in small amounts that you’ll use fairly quickly. Catnip also loses strength when exposed to air and light; keep it fresh by storing it in the freezer in an airtight container. If you prefer to use catnip toys, you can refresh them by “marinating” them in loose catnip or spraying them with natural catnip oil.
  • Organic catnip is pesticide-free, good for cats who like to nibble their ‘nip. And cat owners with green thumbs can grow their own. A $2 packet of seeds will produce enough plants to keep a cat in nepetalactone clover all summer, with extra to dry for the dark days of winter, when we all need a little stimulation.