chocolate daisy, provence lavender, german chamomile,
chocolate mint, wild watermelon salvia and lamb’s ears
the magic of the herb garden
Deep in the
Southern Wood, as the
moonlight gave way to a pink-hued dawn, the beautiful Princess of
Valerie Finnis, readied herself for the day's festivities. As she donned her gown, the
Silver Brocade and the billowy
Fringed lace fell perfectly
around her. It had been her cousin,
David's, Choice whom she was to wed.
He was the powerful Arch
Sandhill and she was bound to his royal
will. She resisted at first, but soon she came to love the
Roman King. And, so it came to pass that
after the happy couple was toasted with many
Mugs of Wort, the
and his new Queen lived happily ever after in the grand
Castle of Powys.
Gardening with herbs brings out the child in all of us. It has been many
years since my daughter and I stood knee deep in Artemisia and devised this
tale. All of the bold words represent different Artemisias and every time we
told the story it changed a little each time. Her favorite plant was always Powys
Castle Artemisia. From age two until about seven she called it “Palace
Castle” and there was never a grander place in anyone’s imagination. She
enjoyed the garden for the creativity it inspired.
On the other hand, her
younger brother took a purely practical view. I used to wonder if he would
leave any fennel for the swallowtails. For him the joy was gastronomic and
licorice flavors reigned supreme. As a toddler he would question me everyday
(at least it seemed like everyday), “Where is the tarragon? Where is the
licorice mint?” Chives also gave him great pleasure with their hollow tubes
like straws. And, while pesto was a yucky green goo, basil leaves were a
prize possession. Many sunny afternoons were filled with making “soup” in
his child-sized wheelbarrow. His father and I and his older sister, who
often supervised these gourmet sessions, were always relieved that he
thought the soup always needed just a few more trimmings and a bit more time
most important rule about gardening with our children is to make no
rules. Our duty is to make it easy and fun. If that means we are the
ones to water when the plant is near death, then so be it. Give your
child’s plants the best soil, the best sun, and the best care and you
child will have the best time. Gardening with children is not about
education nor is it about teaching them responsibility. It is about having
fun and making moments your and your child will always remember.
They will learn many things from your time together and so will you.
around children should be grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or
herbicides. Always start with a
small amount of any herb the first time you let a child put it in their
mouth or on their skin.
full sun/zone 4
the kids out to the garden in the mornings so they can explore the little
yellow daisy with the rare chocolate smell. Feel free to pick a few, it
opens new flowers everyday and blooms from spring until frost. It does well in a
gallon or larger container too! Collect the large seeds when they turn brown
and feel dry. Label and store in a dry place for planting next spring.
(Lavandula x Intermedia)
full sun/zone 5
All parts of the lavender are fragrant and can be used in cooking or crafts.
Avoid putting plants where puddles form. If humidity is a problem consider a
large container filled with coarse potting soil. Lavender wands can be
gathered at anytime. To dry, hang upside down in small bunches or just place
upright in a small vase with no water. Once dry, buds are easily jostled
lose. Place in several layers of cheesecloth and tie with a ribbon. Cut
back flowers and about a third of the bush in late summer.
full sun/part sun annual
German Chamomile is an annual that grows quickly and can be harvested once
or twice during the growing season. Scented of apples the mass of tiny white
daisies quickly become lemony cones perfect for picking. Flowers can be used
fresh or dried and can be brewed up into tea (which soothed Peter Rabbit’s
tummy) or added to ice cubes and used in summer time teas. Seeds left
behind bring new plants.
Tea parties in the garden are great for little ones. Chocolate Daisy, German
Chamomile and Wild Watermelon flowers and Chocolate Mint leaves can all be
used to make sun tea. The combinations and amounts are endless. Pint size
mason jars are best for very small children. Wash the leaves, stems or
flowers. An easy way to do this is to swish them in the jar and then drain.
Add fresh water and let the jar sit all day in the sun. It will turn a rich
golden brown. Strain out the leaves and add a touch of sweetener (optional).
Refrigerate. Start your tea in the morning and have your party in the
afternoon. A trip to a thrift store to pick out a special tea cup makes the
day even more fun. Our
Zone 5 Tea Garden and
Zone 9 Tea
Garden plants can help expand your tea horizons.
(Mentha x piperita cv.)
full sun/part sun zone 5
Mint is perfect for tiny hands. Because it is spreads out quickly by runners
and can be invasive, it should be planted into a wide container not less
than 12 inches across and 6 inches deep.
The reddish-green stems of mint grow upward for most of
the summer and can be cut at any time. As fall approaches, the mint may
bloom, which can attract butterflies. Before winter hits cut back the
remainder of the mint and dry it. Next spring the mint will need to be
divided and repotted into more than one pot.
Making ice cream from herbs is a fun way to use what
your child has grown.
Mint Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
several sprigs of mint
Put mint in a saucepan with the nonfat milk and bring
just to a boil and turn off. Let sit for 10 minutes, remove mint and chill.
Once cold, add the rest of the ingredients and whisk well. Add to ice cream
freezer. Chocolate chips or other goodies can be added during the last few
minutes of churning. Makes 2 quarts.
Wild Watermelon Salvia
(Salvia microphylla cv.)
full sun/zone 6
This is a big bush with bold fruity
fragrance and lovely large watermelon colored flowers. Decorate cupcakes or
add the flowers to salads, soups, egg dishes or drinks. Flowers are
attractive to hummingbirds which brings another chance for little ones to be
enthralled in the garden. Plant near a window for a continuous show. Cut
back about a third of the bush in fall.
full sun/part sun zone 4
leaves provide endless possibilities for young imaginations to work.
make fun little wash cloths on a hot day or can be used as a soft bookmark.
Lamb’s Ears take almost no care as long as they are not over watered. Tall
spikes of pink fuzzy flowers appear in spring. Leave these on and new plants
will pop up in new places the next year.
Additional plants for this garden::
Chives, Licorice Mint, Lemon Thyme, Bronze Fennel, Lemon Verbena, Butterfly
Bushes, French Tarragon, Spanish Tarragon, Kentucky Colonel Mint, Powis
Castle Artemisia, Maraschino Cherry Salvia, Mullein.
Books to read on this subject:
A Kid's Herb Garden
by Leslie Tierra
The Children's Kitchen Garden
by Georgeanne and Ethel Brennan
The Family Butterfly Book
by Rick Mikula
Grow Your Own Pizza Gardening Plans and Recipes for
by Constance Hardesty
Easy Garden Projects
by Barbara Pleasant
Down and Dirty:
43 Fun and Funky First-Time Projects
by Ellen Zachos
by purchasing our Kid's Herb Garden Kit!
Receive The Kid's Herb Garden Six Pack and the book
Sunflowers for one low price!
Sunflowers is a book all about fun. Growing, Cooking and Crafting
Sunflowers is by Diane Morey Sitton. Hardcover Full color. 64 pages Great
for gardening with children.
Substitutions in Herb Garden Six Packs are made with appropriate
plants when necessary.