Tag Archives: herbs

Herbs for the Holiday Festivities

pie

pumpkin pie with sage and mums

When I think of herbs for Christmas, I always think of the Simon and Garfunkel Scarborough Fair song:  “Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.” Sure there other herbs and plenty of spices but these herbs seem to be the most popular during the holidays. The great thing is that these are easy to grow here in the DC mero area. Continue reading

Pineapple Sage for You and the Hummingbirds

Currently, my pineapple sage plants (Salvia elegans) are blooming in my garden, their bright scarlet flowers are attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Members of the salvia or sage family, pineapple sage plants are herbaceous, tender perennial herbs. I have two pineapple sage plants, which I bought last year as tiny babies, and I often use their leaves and flowers in the kitchen. Continue reading

Monarda: Native Herbs with Beautiful Flowers

Lately I have noticed more hummingbirds in my garden. I’d like to say it is because of the Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’ I planted but really, I have so many flowering plants it is hard to say. I purchased ‘Jacob Cline’ because a Mt. Cuba Center report said that out of all the Monarda plants in their trial, this one was visited the most by hummingbirds. Although hummingbirds love large-flowered, red cultivars of Monarda in general, they seem to prefer Jacob Cline because (researchers theorize) the plant is taller than the others, thus easier to find.

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Angelica: Adding the Angels to the Garden

Angelica archangelica in shade

Last August, a fellow member of the Potomac Unit of the Herb Society of America had fresh angelica seeds to give away (Angelica archangelica). She warned that the seeds had to be sown immediately–fresh seed is best for successful germination. I quickly sowed several seeds and ended up with 10 plants! I transplanted them in several places in my Virginia garden, some in part shade and some in full sun. They overwintered well here in Zone 7 and emerged in the spring. Today, at the end of July they are all doing well except one that is a little chlorotic (yellow leaves). Continue reading

Fennel Finds its Place in the Garden

fennel in the summer with caterpillar in right corner

I grow fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, in my Virginia garden for many reasons. First of all, it is easy to grow from seed. In the garden, the plants can be showstoppers at five feet tall but sometimes they bend from the weight to weave among the perennials and shrubs. Their tubular stems mingle with the pumpkin vines on the ground or rest on top of the chrysanthemum shrubs while their green, fern-like foliage peak through the zinnias.

Throughout the summer, I can harvest the foliage for use in the kitchen. The leaves have an anise flavor and are good for flavoring fish and chicken dishes and root vegetables. Snips of the foliage can be sprinkled on salads, soup, eggs, and tuna salad sandwiches. Continue reading

Marvelous Mint

peppermint

peppermint

Mint is a great plant to have, as long as you grow it in containers. It is very versatile — there are so many uses plus it is easy to propagate and make gift plants. Hardy to zone 5, they survive the winters well in containers here in Virginia. Continue reading

Breeding Better Herbs

basilHappy Days! My breeding better herbs article was just published in the March/April issue of the American Gardener, the magazine of the American Horticultural Society (AHS). AHS is a great organization to join plus they have a bimonthly magazine, webinars, events, trips and a reciprocal admission program to public gardens. Here is the article and here is a link to the entire issue. Thank you AHS for publishing this!

Growing Ginger, Turmeric, and Lemongrass in the DC Metro Area

lemongrass

Bunch of lemongrass culms wrapped in plastic

Every year at this time, I visit a local Asian supermarket and pick up a few turmeric and ginger rhizomes and a couple of lemon grass stalks. For a few dollars, you can grow these tropical herbs for the summer. It is important to start early inside as ginger and turmeric have very long growing seasons. It can take 8 to 10 months for the plants to fully develop in order to be able to harvest the rhizomes. Fortunately, they do not need the type of light structures you use to start seeds indoors. Continue reading

Herbs Support Pollinators Too

anise hyssop

Anise hyssop (Agastache) is a pollinator magnet.

As you peruse the seed catalogs and plan your garden for 2022, keep the herbs in mind. There is sage advice that gardeners must plant native plants to support pollinators. While that is not bad advice, I have noticed that the culinary herbs I grow in my Virginia garden, the majority of which are not native to this country, attract bees, butterflies, and moths.

I have a few native herbs such as bee balm (Monarda) and hyssop (Agastache), which I grow for tea and edible flowers. But most of my culinary herbs, my garden staples, originate from abroad. Rosemary and lavender are from the Mediterranean area, lovage and salad burnet are from Europe, and oregano and savory are from the Middle East.

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Taking Care of Your Herbs in the Fall

anise hyssop

Anise hyssop (Agastache) is a bee magnet.

As we enter the fall season our thoughts turn to saving the plants we can and knowing where to cut our losses. Many people who have been growing herbs, especially in containers, are wondering how to overwinter them for next year. On Facebook, they are asking questions such as: Will the herbs make it over the winter, should they be removed or cut back, can they be saved somehow for next year? To answer these questions, there are three things to consider. Continue reading