The purveyors of Cottage Garden Teas, Joanne Polacek and Carolyn Dwyer, will be speaking at the June 30 meeting of the Evening Herb Society at the Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach. Their knowledge of teas and dried herbs will be the subject of their presentation. Mounts nurtures many of the herbs in their Herb Garden that these ladies use in their teas. So the focus of the evening will be on the herbs that are grown right under our noses!
Speaking of nose, there is lavender, holy basil, lemon balm, mint, sage, chamomile and lemongrass growing right in the Mounts’ yard. Then there are some spicy plants - cardamom, turmeric and ginger in the garden as well. You can even find a tea plant there, the camellia sinensis! We’ll learn how unusual this is, and why we don’t usually see much tea growing in the United States.
Joanne and Carolyn have been in the business – blending and packaging custom, gourmet loose-leaf teas - for eight years, and pride themselves in their ability to pair healthful herbs and fruits with quality teas from around the world. Their blends are served in local restaurants and coffee/tea shops, and are currently being offered on the global market. Cottage Garden Teas’ Florida teas are being shown in London, Germany, and in New York at the international trade shows. So join us on June 30 for an educational and fun evening and taste some of their herbal fusions and tea blends
Our meeting in May presenting the “Herb of the Year – Savory” was very well attended. I think we all learned something new about this versatile plant (culinary and medicinal). In the past and when available, we had savory at our plant sale, but until now little did I realize there is a summer savory and winter savory. I have grown winter savory and took lots of cuttings and dried the herb. The plant lasted two years. However, summer savory is more delicate and is used in “Herbes de Provence.”
Thanks to all the members and brought food to the Tasting Table. We had so many dishes and a great variety that filled two tables. It was a culinary delight.
The Herb/Wellness Garden is not too happy with the lack of rain. It’s a lesson which plants need water and what is hardy and can survive. The big bushes and trees that are established are doing well and growing tall. The various gingers have emerged from their slumber and growing with speed. The balsam has very pretty flowers and some are three feet tall. Also they reseed very quickly and are still growing without paying attention to the lack of rain. The nasturtiums finally gave up and had to be removed. The places they created were filled with purslane (Portulaca oleracea) a native to India and Persia and has spread throughout the world as an edible plant and as a weed. Many cultures embrace purslane as a food. It has fleshy succulent leaves and stems with yellow and pink flowers. They look like baby jade plants. The stems lay flat on the ground as they radiate from a single taproot sometimes forming large mats of leaves. It’s a great groundcover. Purslane grows just about anywhere from fertile garden soil to the poorest arid soils. A rock driveway is nirvana to Purslane. It’s succulent characteristic makes it very drought tolerant. With Purslane aficionados the preference is in eating fresh young plants, and especially young leaves and tender stem tips. Purslane is somewhat crunchy and has a slight lemony taste. Some people liken it to watercress or spinach, and it can substitute for spinach in many recipes. Young, raw leaves and stems are tender and are good in salads and sandwiches.
We have a new plant in the garden, a gift from Jesse Turko (a vendor at the plant sales) and we have to thank Donnie Brown for the connection. It’s a Snow Flake (Wrightia Antidysenteria) also known as Milky Way, Winter Cherry Tree, Arctic Snow, Pudpitchaya, Sweet Indrajaoa, Hyamaraca, it’s origin is Sri Lanka. Wrightea is a small compact and bushy shrub that blooms nonstop, year round. The plant is covered with 1” white flowers that look like stars from the distance. It’s a medicinal plant in India, the bark possesses anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties and, therefore, the juice extracted from it, is administered for mouth sores. The leaves are used from treating several skin disorders (psoriasis, non-specific dermatitis, etc).
The spotted Bee Balm is in bloom and growing out of the garden bed onto the walkway. It’s too beautiful to cut back. It’s very easy to grow from cuttings. This plant alone is worth a visit to the Wellness/Herb Garden at Mounts.
After the June meeting the end of the month, we are taking a break in July and August and meet again with renewed energy in September, hopefully, it will be a little cooler by then.
For this month’s meeting, the EHS Board presents the “2015 IHS Herb of the Year” SAVORY. Perhaps you are well aquatinted with this plant but I bet there will be a few surprises. Our Board have put their energy into researching this plant genus and are going to share their findings with you on cooking, planting and medicinal properties, etc.
The EHS’s April 28th meeting at the Mounts Auditorium was packed and there simply wasn’t enough room on the Tasting Table for all donated delights our members brought to share. What a successful, interesting evening.
Mark Fairchild was the speaker and he used a fine selection of slides, illustrating “Tropical Herbalism”, of real interest to us because we live where these medicinal herbs can be grown and utilized. I recognized many of the
Join pharmacognosy* understudy Mark Fairchild for a walk through the herbal garden with a slideshow on special plants.
Mark will discuss tropical herbalism and focus on some issues surrounding invasive’s capture and those broader sustainability optioning strategies.
Get a preview on Mark’s talk visit the website www.Healthylivingtropics.org/plant books and/or www.Lampinfo.org.
*Pharmacognosy = study of medicine derived from natural sources.