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n.heraud2Well, to say Jekka McVicar, British herb farm owner, author and herbalist and the Queen of Herbs, had an adventure in Pittsburgh at the National Herb Society conference is an understatement. The Western Pennsylvania Unit of the Herb Society of America kept her on her toes, but I know she enjoyed her time with all of the ladies and gentlemen in the units from all over the country. She gave a great speech on Friday called Herbs are More than a Garnish. I always thank my mother each and every day for making me eat my parsley on my plate in restaurants. You can see some more photos of the national conference on my blog, Lemon Verbena Lady’s Herb Garden.

I got to spend Saturday with Jekka before her flight back to her beloved herb farm in England. We had to spend our time wisely because time was short. I first took her to the Elizabethan Herb Garden in Mellon Park, which is tended by the Western Pennsylvania Unit of the Herb Society of America. They have done a really great job under committee chair, Liz De Piero.

There is the Elizabethan Knot Garden which is surrounded by boxwood hedge (Buxus sempervirens) and the knot is formed by germander (Teurcrium chamaedrys). In the center of each diamond, there is a santolina plant either green (Santolina virens) or gray (Santolina chamaecyparissus). In the corners of the Knot Garden are Allium senescens 'Glaucum', or curly chives. I just did a post about chives about six weeks ago called Spring Favorites: The Good, the Bad and the Curly Chives. The Knot Garden is also surrounded by four beds of lavender and four thyme beds.  Here is a photo of the knot garden edged by lavender and thyme beds.

The Elizabethan Knot Garden Tended by the Western PA Unit of the HSA 

The other important bed is the Shakespeare Garden. Jim and Dotti Becker wrote an article called Shakespearean Garden: Recreate an Elizabethan Garden in the April/May 1995 issue of The Herb Companion. In the article they highlight certain Elizabethan gardens to be seen throughout the country. The Elizabethan Herb Garden in Mellon Park was one of them. This is one that is thriving.  Always check to make sure that gardens still exist when reading articles from other decades. 

Shakespeare mentioned over 160 plants throughout his works. The bed is broken down into four beds—Herbs, Vegetables Garden Flowers and English Wild Flowers—and has just a fraction of the plants mentioned in his plays. The well in the center holds horseradish, the 2011 Herb of the Year. This bed is surrounded by boxwood. There are additional beds such as Rose, Culinary, Fragrance and Shade. There are six smaller beds that include Tea; Dye; Pittsburgh 250 Garden, which relates to the King’s Garden that contained herbs, flowers and vegetables and was planted near Fort Pitt around 1762; Silver Garden; Plants from Great Britain; and Medicinal. Here is a photo of the Shakespeare Garden.

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