update on my sister’s herb wheel

My idea is to take some space on this blog about my own northern garden to document, celebrate and share stories about my sister’s and my niece’s adventures in herb gardening and herb processing. My sister is the practical gardener, preferring to grow things we can use for nutrition or health. My niece is an explorer by nature, I think–she is interested in a lot of things, has never met an art form she didn’t like, and also, strangely enough in this coffee-blitzed-out nation, is an avid tea drinker (I know–I have wondered “can she really be related to me?”) My niece is also quite energetic and ambitious–so not only do we have an herb garden, but we also have a lot of dried herbs to make teas with. Last time I visited there, I said, “let’s take a photo of your collection of herbal teas!” Here is our photo:

dried herbs for tea
dried herbs for tea

And I recently pestered my sister for more photos of the herb wheel–she lives in zone 5 (or 6?) but her March 31 garden shot looked just like mine–here it is, not much going on yet:

Herb wheel March 31
Herb wheel March 31

We all three of us are amateurs at herb growing, but we are enjoying the learning process. One of my favorite herb stories is about anise hyssop, agastache. For some reason I can’t remember anymore, about five years ago when I started my own doomed herb wheel (more on that another day) I ordered seeds of this herb, started them indoors, and planted them out after frost: they were magnificent! Tall healthy plants, vigorous and unbothered by any bugs or diseases, with edible leaves and flowers (fresh and in tea). The pretty spires of lavender flowers were often alive with bees. I was completely charmed.  So, I thought that was  rousing success, and I proceeded to do the same thing the following Spring. I planted seeds, waited

anise hyssop agastache
anise hyssop (agastache)

happily for them to germinate (the seeds for this plants are TINY), watered and misted and watered some more, thinned them to one per “cell”, transplanted (because I always start seeds too soon and they outgrow the original cells), and then at last proudly carried my 20 seedlings out to plant in last year’s agastache corner of the herb wheel. As I prepared to dig little holes for them I noticed a fuzz of thousands of tiny plants covering the ground, and I was just about to shove them aside when I heard the sound of many, many self-sown anise hyssop seedlings laughing up at me. Yup, no need for my efforts. I stubbornly planted those carefully nurtured agastache anyway, among their many smaller siblings. But since then I don’t worry about growing them from seed.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Rachel says:

    The herb wheel is looking perkier by the day! Mom’s going to send you a picture soon, I think :). The mints are looking especially nice (apple and spearmint), as is the sweet cicely. I am loving your blog so far!

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