Cynthia Meredith has been gardening with herbs, reading about herbs, and discussing herb gardening in Texas for more than 20 years. She has owned The Herb Cottage (www.theherbcottage.com) for over 10 years, selling herb plants to people all over our state.
Spring is slowly, slowly showing signs of beginning. Much of February had cold, rainy, wintery weather. Today, March 1, was sunny and around 70 degrees by late morning. Now, mid-afternoon, the clouds have moved in and we're experiencing a shower. So, what's happening in The Herb Garden here at The Herb Cottage?
Roses are definitely showing new leaf growth. My big Little Pinkie climber has tipped over its copper trellis. Somehow, I'm going to have to right the trellis without being eaten by the plant!
There is a lot of new growth from the yarrow patch.
Herbs in the beds are beginning to show some size, even though most of the potted stock plants are in desperate need of sun for growth. Root systems are gaining size and strength due to diligent feeding, but top growth of herbs and tomato plants is very slight. It's as if the plants are just waiting for sun before they really put on new leaves. I guess this is their way of survival in the cooler temperatures.
Soon we should be able to tell what actually was killed off by the deep cold we had back in January. I'm looking daily at more of the plants, which generally die back for the winter and re-appear in spring, to see if they, indeed, shall recover. In my last blog post (Growing Herbs in Texas: Early Spring Planting), I wrote about my ramie plant showing new growth. That new growth has stayed the same size. But, it survives!
Green pepper basil (Ocimum selloi) is returning to life.
I'm seeing new shoots peeking out from the frozen stems of the Mexican mint marigold, also known as Texas (or Mexican) tarragon. This is a fabulous perennial for landscape use and for cooking. The leaves are used as a substitute for French tarragon, which just does not like our Gulf Coast conditions. I like to use the leaves in tea, too, and the flowers add a cheery yellow to salads.
Mexican mint marigold in full flower.
One plant in my herb bed, lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora), is an herbal tree. The freeze really affected the leaves, although they are now just beginning to drop. I know, however, the tree survived because it is shedding its bark, as it does every year during the spring growth spurt. The bark that is shed seems thicker this year, perhaps due to the extreme cold. This year we experienced the coldest temperatures since I've had the tree in the ground. Even though the tree has only been in the ground about 7 or 8 years, it's already attained a height of about 30 feet!!
Lemon eucalyptus trunk. (Old live oak in the background.)
Way up there!! Cleaned, new trunk with shredded bark above, ready to be discarded.
What's going on in your gardens? One day, we'll look out at the gardens and realize that spring is in full swing with flowering herbs, fragrant roses and lush vegetable plants. The gardens will be a riot of color, scents and buzzing, busy insects. Until then, bask in the sunny days when we have them, plant some basil seeds in preparation for summer and enjoy the winter flowers.
For the bees, I planted flowering arugula (white flowers) and minutina (yellow flowers). On sunny days, the bees are a-buzz in these flowering tops.
"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." —Marcus Tullius Cicero