Garden Club: Beyond parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

Garden club meeting will feature guest speaker Lynda Dowling

Lavender and thyme

To me there’s nothing like fresh herbs. They are healthy, tasty and beautiful. And most of them smell so good! With herbs, scissors and a bit of imagination, it’s easy to jazz up a bland meal, perk up a cold summer drink, or whip up a tasty and unusual dessert. Some herbs make delicious teas, some are known to reduce stress, and some promote freshness in and around the house. Herbs are used medicinally and are a source of essential oils, the foundation of aromatherapy, which is gaining popularity as an alternative/complementary medicine.

Although buying fresh-cut herbs at a local store or outdoor market may be an option – the operative word here is ‘may’ – it is generally an expensive one. On the other hand, growing herbs at home in the ground or in containers is easy and has the obvious culinary advantage of providing immediate access to absolutely fresh, organic and super nutritious flavourings. Moreover, it can be a good investment. Many herbs, for example, are hardy perennials, returning year after year with increased resilience. Some, like rosemary and lavender, are small shrubs that add ‘curb appeal’ to landscapes, although they are equally lovely and at home in containers. Herbs tend to be pest free, relatively easy to maintain, tolerant of the inattentive gardener (like me), and easy to harvest.

In the garden, herbs can serve as repellents, keeping pests away from crops and people. They also attract beneficial insects, which feed on pests, as well as butterflies and bees, our most important pollinator. In short, herbs offer a wide array of benefits and demand little in return. They are good for us and for the planet.

Lynda Dowling knows a thing or two about herbs. She has been growing them on in Metchosin for 30 years. The farm sits on the old goat pasture of property purchased by her grandfather in 1910. When she moved there in 1983, the herbs were already there; the lavender came a few years later.

Lynda is guest speaker at this month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club. Her presentation will go ‘beyond parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme’ to the how-to of creating herb gardens to suit specific purposes. Is it to be a medicinal garden,  culinary garden,  tea garden,  craft garden, edible flower garden, children’s garden … or simply a beautiful garden? Particular attention will be paid to the growing trend in small space and box/container gardening.

Please join us April 24, 7:30 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on Townsend Road. Also on the agenda: parlour show, plant sale, and sale of contest potatoes. New members are always welcome. Membership is $15 and can be purchased at the door. sookegardenclub@yahoo.ca or phone Rose at 250-642-5509.