Herbies from Around the World

Notes from Regional Herb Gardeners

| August/September 1999

Party Times

Jo Ann Gardner

CAPE BRETON ISLAND, Nova Scotia—I live for plants, so one would think summer’s waning should cast me down. To the contrary, it is an exhilarating time because my favorite herbs are at hand to make herbal confetti, a colorful and delicious mix of shredded fresh flowers and herbs that I use to embellish breakfast eggs, fried baby zucchini, soft cheese spread, and salads. I derive so much pleasure from preparing confetti that I think of it as a source of eternal youth and a good thing to do in my sixty-fourth year, especially when so much work awaits me on a late summer day.

The mixture varies according to its intended use but always includes nasturtium flowers in all their glorious ­colors: primrose, golden yellow, tangerine, orange, rose, fiery and mahogany red, scarlet. To a handful of those, I add leaves of sweet ‘Genovese’ and lettuce-leaf basils (for breakfast) or sprigs of salad burnet, ‘Fernleaf’ dill, and sweet marjoram for cheese spreads and salads. Then I roll the flowers and greenery tightly together and snip them into small pieces. Blended, they at once acquire a new identity, a versatile fresh flavoring.

When a family dropped in recently to pick up cheese and herb supplies and then stayed for an extended visit, I was mortified to discover that I had nothing to serve them. Inspired by the herbal muse who hovers around me, I excused myself briefly and returned with a handful of nasturtiums and herbs, which I quickly turned into herbal confetti. In no time, I mixed up a spread of homemade cottage cheese thinned with homemade mayonnaise, both always at hand for late-summer tomato breakfasts, and glasses of iced tea flavored with rhubarb juice and fresh sprigs of lemon balm and mint.

It didn’t take long for everyone to get into the spirit of an al fresco snack of matzos with confetti-topped cheese spread. The children were pressed into service to fetch more flowers and herbs and soon were adept at picking freshly opened, bug-free nasturtiums in a pleasing balance of designer colors. They enjoyed choosing the flowers, gathering a variety of herbs, making pretty piles of confetti on several small plates, restocking the crackers, and even mixing up more spread. I don’t think anyone could have asked for more pleasing refreshment on a hot summer day. It’s true that the nasturtiums were picked clean, but they needed a good trimming anyway.

It is an exhilarating time because my favorite herbs are at hand to make herbal confetti. 

Keep the faith

Andy Van Hevelingen

NEWBERG, Oregon—Plant collecting is an addiction. Many a time, I have read an ­article or a book and discovered a new herb that ­I simply must have. Many a time, that herb has remained elusive. Questions a­rise: Which plant friends are going to Europe or back East? Which nurseries will mail-order? Who has it and will trade a plant of a different herb for a start?

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