Parsley is much more than a garnish on
the dinner plate. It is one of the most useful as well as
oldest of our garden herbs. It was held in high esteem by
the ancient Greeks and Romans for its ability to cleanse
the breath and to add flavor to foods. A spoonful of
finely chopped parsley adds a delightful, tangy flavor to
salads, stews, soups and meats. The deep, rich green, fern
like appearance of parsley leaves add to the
attractiveness of many food dishes.
The plant is a member of the Umbelliferae family, which have a long tap root and produce clusters of umbels, flowers arranged on modified stems in a form resembling an umbrella. There are two primary varieties of parsley available: the tradition “moss curled” type and the flat leaf “Italian” variety (pictured above). While both have excellent culinary use, curled parsley is more decorative and many chefs consider flat leaf parsley to have better flavor.
Parsley is a biennial. In the spring of its second year, the plant flowers, produces seed, and dies, completing its life cycle. You should replace them every spring to be sure of a steady supply of leaves.
Parsley seeds have a hard coat and often can take a month or more to germinate without special preparation. I soak the seeds in lukewarm water overnight before planting, which can cut germination time to two weeks. The seeds should be planted in finely prepared soil or good potting soil. Parsley has a long tap root which is easily damaged, so plants can be star
Despite its name, and appearance, cat thyme is not a thyme at all, but a close relative of germander. Its small, oval leaves give it a thyme like appearance, but the musty scent is quite unlike the delicate aroma of thyme Cat thyme is a mounding, tender perennial with grey-green leaves tipped by fragrant pink flowers in summer. Some, but not all cats prefer it to catnip and will cork screw themselves into the plant in ecstasy. Cat Thyme, a native of Spain, will live through the winter in the open, on a dry soil and in a good situation, when the frosts are not severe, though it is frequently killed in hard winters, if unprotected by mats or other covering. Older plants can shrub 3 or 4 feet high if grown in a mild climate.. It has oval leaves, broader at the base, downy beneath, with uncut margins. The flowers are in one-sided spikes, the corollas are crimson in color. The leaves and younger branches when fresh, on being rubbed emit a volatile, aromatic smell, which excites sneezing, but in taste they are somewhat bitter, accompanied with a sensation of heat.
This species of the common garden annual
produces prolific 1-1 ½" blooms throughout the
summer. The flowers are usually bright golden orange, but
yellow and red striped varieties exists as well. The
flowers are edible, and are used in Indonesian cuisine. It
is easy to grow, readily becoming naturalized in most
climates. The plants grow 3-4 feet tall and benefit from
pruning to avoid them become weedy looking.
In the grocery trade, fennel is often
confused with anise. It is common to see fennel
seeds or even fennel bulbs and stems being sold as
anise. The anise plant (Pimpinella anisum)
is smaller and has coarser leaves than fennel,
although in the flowering stage anise produces new
finely divided foliage. The seeds too are often
mislabeled by vendors. While both seeds have a
similar licorice like flavor, anise seeds are
easily distinguishable by a flatter, wider shape
than fennel. Fennel is a vigorous herb which can
reach 5-6 feet tall. A perennial, fennel is
usually grown as an annual. The plant produces
umbels of white flowers in summer. It produces
prodigious amounts of seed, which readily scatter.
As a result, fennel has naturalized throughout the
United States, even becoming a pest in some
environmentally sensitive areas such as the Santa
Monica Mountains in Southern California. The
entire plant is edible, with the seeds commonly
used for baking and the thick, main bulbous stem
incorporated in soups.
This rather petite herb was once
regarded as having magical curative properties. The
Romans attributed some 47 curative properties to it,
including use as a salve for battle wounds. Today,
Betony's primary use is as an ornamental and as an
excellent herbal substitute for black tea.
Betony is closely related to the hairy leafed ornamental Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantium). However, Betony is much more compact and non-invasive. This hardy perennial plant produces a fairly symmetrical clump of dark green, elongated heart shaped leaves which often grows no more than 6 inches high. In summer, Betony produces its crowning glory, a spike with multiple whorls of red violet tubular flowers
This pungent perennial is a favorite for edging herb gardens or rose beds. The silvery gray foliage has a curly texture, and the plant eventually grows into a mound 1-2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The flowers are small yellow buttons on 6 inch stalks in summer. The plant is primarily decorative, but can be used in sachets and potpourri. Lavender cotton grows well in hot, dry summers, and is subject to fungal disease in wet soil.
This plant was named for St. John the Baptist, and in Medieval times was thought to have the power to drive out the devil. Tradition has it that the plant always blooms on St. John the Baptist's birthday, June 24. St. John's-wort is an early summer blooming plant, although bloom times will vary according to
St. John's-wort has become well known in recent years not for driving out devils but for its active ingredient, hypericin, which some clinical studies have indicated helps alleviate depression. As a result, herbal supplements made from St. John's-wort have ben hugely successful, although these unregulated herbal medications can vary enormously in strength and quality. The scientific jury is still out on whether St. John's-wort is at all effective, as some studies have found no appreciable effect. If you suffer from depression, you definitely should talk to your doctor before trying this or any herbal supplement. The hypericin in St.-John's-wort can have side effects, particularly causing hyper- photosensitivity, which can be problematic for light skinned persons and those with a need to avoid excess UV radiation.
Regardless of it's psychotropic values, St.-John's-wort is an attractive creeping addition to the garden, with cute sprays of bright yellow flowers. A hardy perennial, the plant can reach two feet in height but often spreads out more than it grows up. It can grow in average soil in full or part sun.
This tender perennial shrub may get a
bit ungainly when it reaches 5-6 ft., but its leaves
provide one of the best lemon flavored herbal teas.
Lemon verbena is a deciduous woody shrub with a
distinctive lemon fragrance. The tiny, tubular
lavender flowers appear in clusters in spring. A
native of South America, it was first brought to
Europe in the 17th Century. In herbal medicine it is
used for stomach ache and to stimulate digestion.
Also known as Roquette, this cruciferous leafy vegetable has strong tasting leaves that are a popular addition to gourmet salads. They are common in Mediterranean markets and spreading to trendy restaurants in the U.S. The vitamin rich leaves can also be boiled for spinach like dish. An annual, the plants grow to 2-3 feet tall and produce white, cross shaped four petal flowers in summer.
This cute, shade loving, spreading perennial
appears somewhat delicate, which it is, since it is only a
few inches high and sensitive to heat. The vanilla
scented leaves have long been used to flavor punches,
especially traditional May Wine in Europe. The
leaves have also been used in some herbal remedies.
In late spring the plant produces delicate white flowers.
The State flower of California, the California Golden Poppy is ubiquitous in spring from the California coast all the way to the Mojave Desert. According to legend, early sixteenth century sailors who sailed along the California coast in the 1600's were ecstatic when the saw coastal hills apparently planted with shimmering sheets of gold. Alas, but on putting to shore, the disappointed mariners found only fields of California poppies rippling in the breeze. But what a beautiful flower to behold, even if its gold is but a flowery mirage! The plant is an annual, which readily reseeds itself. The petals are found in shades of orange, and less commonly yellow, red and white. The flowers close at night and remain closed on cloudy days.
Stevia - "Sweet Leaf Plant"