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.
I can hardly believe how beautiful the weather has been this past week or so. Since the rains moved on, the skies have been clear and sunny with low humidity and near perfect temperatures. I’m spending every possible minute outdoors to enjoy these perfect Texas fall days. After so much rain, and now with the sun beaming down, the garden is putting on it’s best show since spring. To enhance the picture, there are butterflies everywhere flitting from flower to flower. And, thankfully, they have a lot to choose from.
Orange cosmos with butterflies
There are blossoms of cosmos, podrangea, porterweed, basil, morning glories, Texas olive (Cordia boissieri) and now I’ve planted a few violets and pansies in the herb garden because, of course, these are edible flowers to add to salad mixes.
Podrangea blossom with dragon fly…or are there fairies in the garden?
I also added a few more herb plants to the herb garden. I had lost all my thyme over the summer, so I added a couple of lemon thyme plants. Lemon thyme is a wonderfully fragrant lemon herb to use with fish, chicken, soup, in tea and herbal vinegars and in a fruit salad dressing. Its tiny, bright green leaves with pale edging bring a sparkle to the herb bed. I planted it in a raised area so it should do better next year when the weather turns hot again.
Coral Porterweed with butterfly
Another plant I lost during the long, hot summer was my garden sage. It lasted until August and then just gave up the ghost and faded away. With Thanksgiving almost here, I know sage is one herb we’ll be looking for in the garden. Sage is an herb that really shines during holiday cooking for those of us who roast a turkey or even a goose for a special meal. Sage has a strong taste and goes well with the pungent flavor of fowl. We simply stuff the bird with handfuls of sage along with rosemary, savory or thyme, garlic cloves and quartered onions. We use the same herbs to flavor the broth that moistens the dressing and to make gravy. One year, I thought we used too many herbs inside the bird, but the flavor of the turkey came through with the herbs as underlying flavors. Very nice!
Variegated Lemon Thyme
We’ll be using lots of the savory herbs from the garden as fall moves into winter. Soups, stews and other hearty dishes call for rosemary, bay, sage, parsley and winter savory–an herb not used very much, I find, but is so flavorful. It’s like a blend of thyme and rosemary, almost, and grows so well in winter and summer. Winter savory (Satureja montana) grows into a little woody shrub. The small, dark green leaves are a welcome addition to meat dishes as well as blending well with vegetables, rice and fruit deserts. It’s easy to grow in full sun to partial shade. Seeds are slow to start, but worth it. If you can find a plant to purchase, that’s the easiest way to go.
Photo courtesy of HERBALPEDIATM
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
I hope you are all taking advantage of the fine fall weather to work in the garden, plant, prune a little, remulch or whatever you can do to enhance your gardening experience during these sunny days. Even pulling and hoeing weeds is pleasurable on these bright, sun-filled days.
Photo courtesy of HERBALPEDIATM
Winter savory (Satureja montana)
I’m off to the garden to weed and plant more herbs.
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
—Marcus Tullius Cicero