Tag Archives: National Herb Garden

Learning About Herbs Under the Arbor

One of DC’s best kept secrets is the Under the Arbor program. The Units of the Herb Society of America in the mid-Atlantic area host demonstrations at the National Herb Garden in the U.S. National Arboretum. These are on designated Saturdays, 1:00 to 4:00 pm, free and open to the public. Plenty of parking and visitors can also roam the entire Arboretum and/or check out the National Herb Garden. Sometimes one Unit will host the event and sometimes it is a multi-Unit event with many tables and demonstrations. Volunteers drive up to the Arboretum for the day from other states such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the DC metro area to set up the tables, complete with displays, handouts, and often freebies to take home. They love to educate the visitors about herbs and answer questions.

Members of the Potomac Unit

The first Under the Arbor this year was held on June 10. Several Units gathered to present “Well Contained Herbs.” The Potomac Unit had a table literally under the arbor in the National Herb Garden, with information on fire cider, ginger, and rose beads. Folks could sample the fire cider and pick up informational flyers. Nearby was the Pennsylvania Heartland Herb Society discussing scented geraniums and showcasing a strawberry jar full of scented geraniums and large plastic containers planted with several culinary herbs. The Philadelphia Unit talked about Wardian cases which are glass cases used to transport plants on ships in the 19th Century. They had many glass jam jars for visitors to start seeds by adding a little bit of soil and water, and a seed. Next to them a Potomac Unit member was filling a strawberry jar with herbs and giving away ginger rhizomes while another member from Virginia Beach, a member at large, demonstrated thematic containers of tomatoes and herbs.

Members of the Philadelphia Unit

The next Under the Arbor event will be on June 24 and theme is tussie mussies. Tussie mussies are small herbal bouquets that were very popular in Victorian times. Often the herbs were gathered with a bit of lace and ribbon and a small holder to make it easy to hold. While they provided a nice scent, the plants were chosen for their special meanings. The Philadelphia Unit will demonstrate how to make tussie mussies, explain the symbolism of the herbs, and visitors may be able to take one home.

On September 16, the theme is ginger, which is the herb of the year for 2023, and lemon scented herbs. The South Jersey Unit will take the lead in showcasing ginger and other units may participate with ginger delicacies. Volunteers will explain the many lemon-scented herbs.

On October 7, most of the mid Atlantic Units will attend for the annual Chile Celebration. Visitors love this event because they get to taste very hot chiles, as well as fudge made with chiles, and other delicacies. Don’t worry, the volunteers will bring milk and bread if it gets too hot! In addition to learning everything there is to know about the genus Capsicum, visitors can view the Herb Gardens’ chile border which is planted every year by staff.

Members of the Pennsylvania Heartland Unit

Under the Arbor programs are planned and conducted by the National Herb Garden committee. The committee is comprised of representatives from the Herb Society’s mid-Atlantic units, members at large, and with the support of the National Herb Garden’s curator and gardener.

Make sure you visit one or all of these Under the Arbor events this year!

Under the Arbor events are also a fun way for members at large and members from different units to catch up with each other

New Herban Lifestyles Series of Classes at U.S. National Arboretum

Interested in learning more about herbs? Check out the new Herban Lifestyles series of presentations at the U.S. National Arboretum. This series of presentations is designed to help you learn new ways to incorporate herbs into your everyday life. You can register for all the events or just select particular events. Some are free, some require a fee. Some are in the National Herb Garden while others are in the Visitor Center Classroom at the Arboretum. Below is the list for this year.

Herbal Bitters: Sweeter than You Think!
August 4, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
National Herb Garden

Discover the benefits that bitter herbs offer, from jazzing up your favorite cocktail to aiding digestion after a heavy meal. A variety of hand-crafted bitters will be available for tasting. This program is part of the Under the Arbor series and is free. No registration required.

Herbal Salves: They’re the Balm!
August 11, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Visitor Center classroom

Learn how to make herb infused oils for use in soothing salves. The healing properties of various oils and herbs will be covered, and participants will get to take home a jar of salve made in class. Fee: $35 ($28 Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) members). Registration required.

Hot, Hot, Hot! The Secrets of Herbal Aphrodisiacs
August 18, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Visitor Center classroom

Herbalist Joan Greeley, owner of Plant Wisdom Within, will instruct participants in the creation of mojo-enhancing herbal concoctions. The weather isn’t the only thing hot this summer! Due to the mature nature of this program, registrants must be at least 18 years old. Fee: $35 ($28 FONA members). Registration required.

Cold Comfort: Herbs to Aid Immunity during Cold and Flu Season
October 20, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Visitor Center classroom

Join herbalist Whitney Palacios as she teaches participants how to make syrups, teas, and other herbal preparations that fortify and nourish the immune system during the winter months. Fee: $35 ($28 FONA members). Registration required.

Herbs – They Make Scents!
October 27, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Visitor Center classroom

Learn how to harvest and prepare herbs to create fragrant herbal incense cones and powders. Participants will create their own blend to take home. Please bring a small container to safely transport your freshly made incense. Fee: $35 ($28 FONA members). Registration required.

Additional herb presentations by Herb Society of America units:

Under the Arbor: Lemon Herbs
September 8, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
National Herb Garden

A refreshing drink on an early autumn day. Tasty citrus cookies after a light lunch. What could be better? Discover how the South Jersey Unit of the Herb Society of America creatively incorporates lemon-flavored herbs into every day culinary fare. Free, drop-in, no registration required.

Under the Arbor: Chile Pepper Celebration
October 6, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
National Herb Garden

The weather may be cooling down, but the National Herb Garden will turn up the heat during its annual Chile Pepper Celebration. Join Herb Society of America members and National Herb Garden staff as they present chile peppers at their finest. Experience the fire with colorful varieties that don’t hold back! Free, drop-in, no registration required.

Under the Arbor at the National Herb Garden, U.S. National Arboretum

Peg’s Picks: September Gardening Events in Washington DC Metro Area

Here are Peg’s Picks for September 2015 gardening events focusing on edible gardening in the Washington DC metropolitan area.

Arlington Central Library hosts the “Garden Talks” series of free presentations every Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm. The website lists the topics and provides gardening resources for gardeners in the area. 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA; (703) 228-5990. http://www.library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks/

  • September 2: Putting the herb garden to bed for the winter
  • 9: Cover crops and crop rotations
  • 16: Extending the season: cold frames, row covers, etc.
  • 23: Inside Arlington kitchens: tasting our cultures
  • 30: Preparing the garden for winter: tool and garden bed care

3, Thursday, Using Fresh Herbs in Summer Cocktails, 6 to 8 pm with a rain date of September 4, 6 to 8 pm, National Herb Garden, U.S. National Arboretum. Must register via e-mail, fee is $59 or $47 if a FONA member. Fee includes food and drinks, a garden tour, and demonstrations. 2400 R Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002. http://www.usna.usda.gov

11, Friday, Garden Talk: Edibles: Mix It Up. Green Spring, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Must register; $10 fee.4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/events.htm

12, Saturday, Fall chores in the garden: clean up, plant division, soil preparation, fall cover crops in the cooks garden, MGPW plant sale, 9:00 am to noon, “Saturdays in the Garden” at the Teaching Garden at St. Benedict Monastery, presentations are given by VCE Prince William Master Gardener Volunteers. 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136; Free but must register (703) 792-7747. E-mail: master-gardener@pwcgov.orghttp://pwcgov.org/grow

12, Saturday, Friends of Brookside Gardens annual plant sale, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Brookside Gardens Service Hill, follow signs on Glenallen Avenue, Wheaton, MD.  (301) 962-1435. http://www.friendsofbrooksidegardens.org

12, Saturday, Fall Herb Faire, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Free admission, parking, classes and tours. Lavender Fields Herb Farm, 11300 Winfrey Road, Glen Allen, VA 23059; (804) 262-7167; http://www.lavenderfieldsfarm.com

14, Monday, through October 5, Landscape for Life (sustainable gardening practices), Monday evenings 6:30 to 9:30 pm with a field trip on October 3.  Crossroads United Methodist Church, 43454 Crossroads Drive, Ashburn, VA 20147. $60 and must register, call Sharon Hines (703) 729-5100 to register or e-mail instructor Nan McCarry at landscapeforlifeclass@gmail.com for more information. http://www.landscapeforlife.org

19, Saturday, Fall Garden Day & Plant Sale at Green Spring, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/events.htm

26, Saturday, Hot! New! Plants! Walking tour. 9:00 to 10:30 am, meet in visitor center at the U.S. National Arboretum. Hot: thrive in hot humid weather; New: creative designs include new cultivars; Plants: incorporated into striking designs. Free but registration recommended. Call (202) 245-2708 to register. 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington DC 20002. http://www.usna.usda.gov

9th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival, September 11-12, at Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia

The 9th Annual Heritage Festival is presented by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello in partnership with the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Each year the Heritage Harvest Festival honors Jefferson’s legacy with this fun, affordable, family-oriented, educational event promoting gardening, sustainability, local food, and the preservation of heritage plants. Participants enjoy tastings, workshops, hands on demonstrations, interpretive walks, and a variety of garden tours and exhibits.  Friday and Saturday offer more than 100 programs and workshops, 90 vendors and exhibitors, and sample food from local farms and restaurants. On Thursday, September 10, from 1 to 4: pm, there is a special presentation with Craig LeHoullier author of Epic Tomatoes; Nan Chase, author of Drink the Harvest; and Ira Wallace, author of the Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast. Afterwards, there will be questions and answers, book signings, and a tomato tasting. For more information, including ticket information, see http://www.heritageharvestfestival.com.

Easiest Edibles: Herbs

variegated sage

variegated sage

Herbs are the easiest edible plants to grow. Many are well suited for containers while others thrive as perennial plants in the garden bed. I find that I have no problems with animals and insects, probably because of the pungent oils in the leaves. Most of my herbs are for cooking and teas, but I also buy plants that I read about so often I just have to see what they are like (rue, for example). In order to remember what I have (or to inspire me to use them in meals), I keep a list on the inside of a kitchen cabinet. The photo is last year’s list; it is a computer file that I still have to update for this year. The notches are the plants that were large enough for me to take cuttings in April this year to bring to my garden club at the office. I was showing my colleagues the variety of perennial herbs that they could grow in the garden but this list also illustrates how early in the season you can harvest most perennial herbs.

lemon balm

lemon balm

On this particular list, the chives (put in eggs and butter), fennel (add to fish), hyssop (admire), lavender (cut flowers), lemon balm (put in fruit salad or make tea), oregano (pasta sauce), rosemary (potatoes, biscuits, chicken), rue (admire from a far), sage (biscuits and tea), salad burnet (green salad), winter savory (great winter interest plant), sweet marjoram (pasta sauce), and thyme (biscuits, chicken) are perennials. The basil (pasta, tomatoes and French bread), borage (beautiful blue flowers), cilantro (fried rice), dill (egg salad), lemon basil (fish), lemon verbena (tea), mints (tea and fruit salad), parsley (potatoes ), pineapple sage (tea and fruit salad), and Thai basil (fish) are treated as annuals in Virginia. The fennel and tarragon are coming back this year but were too small to cut in April. I think the neighborhood cats stole the catmint; I can’t find it. But no loss, it only opens up space to add my new Korean mint (because I read about it), tansy (to repel pests), and zinger hibiscus (also because I read about it but I think I will use for tea). I may still buy artemisia as it is the herb of the year and I hear that savory is the herb of the year for 2015 so I definitely will have to add summer savory to the list.

oregano

oregano

If you are interested in herbs make sure you visit the National Herb Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum or join the Potomac Unit of the Herb Society of America. Although you can easily buy herb plants and seeds at the major nurseries in this area (see tab above), two that specialize in herbs are DeBaggio’s Herb Farm & Nursery in Chantilly, VA; and Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm in Severn, MD. The Herb Society of America also is a great resource and our public library systems have more than enough herb books for you to enjoy.

herbs in 2013 garden

herbs in 2013 garden