Ann Wheeler from Log House Herbs is joined by The Arbor Gate’s Beverly Welch and helps us identify which of our herbs survived the Gulf Coast Winter.

[Beverly] Why, Ann, I… It’s so glad to finally have March here and see an end to this brutal winter we had on the Gulf Coast. We got to look at these herbs and see what we need to do now, if you don’t mind. Let’s walk through and take a peek.

– [Ann] Let’s walk through.

– A lot of things did fairly well, but some things, I know customers are a little concerned about the way they look right now. But if you don’t mind…- Let’s take a look.

– …let’s walk through and see what we might be doing at this point.

– One of the things I’m seeing, Beverly, just on a quick look around is that many of these herbs have been, especially over here in the thymes, they’ve been colored up quite a bit by the cold.

– They really have.

– They give a lot of variety of color, that in the heat of the summer, is not there.

– So I’ve noticed that the thymes actually held up, even in the teems and the long-lived freezes we had, quite well. So this is kind of a general look that you see right now in the garden and in the pots. So, is it of concern?

– I don’t see it as being of concern. I think what we’re watching for, very carefully, is down in the end there part of the plant, are we seeing some new little leaves develop on the stems that are closer to the soil. And then I’d be interested in, you know, very soon in March, taking these long runners off.

– Runners off.

– I wouldn’t want to whack them off too much, but to go ahead and take these long runners off, that helps the new growth rise.

– Emerge as well.

– And these can certainly stand it. I’m sure they’re very well-rooted.

– Well, in March, you know, there’s still a chance of a frost. Hopefully not a hard freeze, but… – There is.

– …as long as we keep this… This crown is over winter, so it should be hardened off and ready to go.

– And ready to go.

– Right. So all the thymes, basically, I’ve noticed…especially you talked about the winter color, this woolly thyme is gorgeous.

– Beautiful, and it’s doing well in the bed.

– It is.

– I wouldn’t have thought so, but it is. And Beverly, the one with the golden varegation is very, very pretty, too.

– I love all the colors that they’ve shown. Now, the German winter thyme, too, has done extraordinarily well.

– Well, it’s a great one for this season. I know it’s one of the finest culinary thymes and also one of the ones recommended in Madalene Hill’s book as a great one for our region.

– Well, we can always take her advice to heart.

– Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

– So, what about the chives? How did they fare?

– The chives fared well. Now, in my garden, I found that many of the longest blades, if you will, had wilted down, but behind those are nice, fresh ones that are ready to go.

– What kind of trimming in March do we do on the chives?

– You know, cutting chives off is a radical surgery… Because what I do is take the whole clump and just cut them all down to here…- I got you.

– …because the new leaves of the chive have to emerge from the roots. Those ones you cut off do not continue to grow, so do it judiciously so you’ll still have some for the kitchen.

– I got you. So what other group… I noticed the parsleys fared outstandingly well.

– Some of our favorite plants, among the umbels particularly, really prefer our cool seasons, so when you see these decline, it’s usually in July… – From the heat.

– …from the heat. So they should be coming along very well now. I know in my place, I didn’t cover any of this category of plant at all, and I’m especially fond of the lovage, and these are wonderful examples, well-rooted, coming along well. If you have some in your garden, cherish those, because the hot summer is hard on the lovage.

– It really is, and what a great… That’s one of our underused herbs, I think. People are not aware of it with that nice, mild celery flavor. It’s so nice to have to go out in the winter months for your soups and stews.

– Absolutely. And in the cool season, it makes a great clump.

– Oh, it’s gorgeous.

– Lots of it.

– Now, the oreganos were another group that also fared quite well…- Quite well.

– …and gave us some beautiful winter color.

– Yes. Those look grand.

– This radish, it’s beautiful.

– Beautiful.

– And you can see where the little green…little growth…- Little greens coming up in the center.

– Those leaves will be green, and then as time goes, you’ll trim these back and you’ll once again have an all-green plant.

– Are these going to be as flavorful?

– I have no idea.

– Okay.

– I have no idea.

– So we don’t know. We’ll have to just try it and see.

– I’d try it and see.

– Okay. We always say oregano’s such a great evergreen ground cover for full sun to part shade, people don’t realize how much shade it’ll take, and a good, deer-resistant plant.

– Yeah. Yeah, it’s a…- There was proof in the pudding this winter.

– Now, is that… That’s the Hilltop.

– That’s the Hilltop Madalene.

– It’s wonderful. I was pleased to find my Newe Ya’ar sage looking so good.

– It is.

– It is absolutely stunning this year.

– And I so enjoy the spring bloom from that plant.

– Yes. It’s a brilliant thing, and I don’t know of a plant that…You know, this is a hybrid from Northern Israel, it’s grown as a desert plant, and yet it’s accommodated itself to the Texas Gulf Coast.

– It has done.

– That’s rare.

– It is rare.

– Very rare. This is another one we can thank Madalene for.

– We are grateful to have her.

– Absolutely. Chervil is a favorite this time of the year. Remember the year we planted this under the roses?

– Yes.

– And when the roses came out and provided shade, it extended the life of the chervil… – It did.

– …because it’s a cool season plant in our area.

– You know, most people, A, don’t realize that the rose is an herb, and that other herbs are the best companions there are for roses. They’ll often overlook that when they’re planting their roses, is to use the herbs as companions.

– Around them. Yeah.

– That’s one of my favorites right there.

– This is one of mine. I have some of this in a pot, sitting out in a totally exposed area, and if moisture froze on these leaves, it just decorated them. They never mind freezing weather. This is salad burnet, I guess we should say its name.

– We should.

– And it lends a bit of fresh cucumber flavor to salads throughout the winter. And it just looks so beautiful, these blue-green leaves with a little bit of icy decoration. Absolutely grand.

– And the bloom is the scarlet pimpernel, correct?

– Yes. Yep. Very small little bloom but lovely, lovely plant. Here’s a great example of one where you can see the tiny new growth coming out of the center.

– I did see that. It’s quite active.

– Very, and it… Teeny, tiny little leaves, but they’ll do fine. They’ll do fine.

– All right. So, so far, what I’m gathering from this talk is that we’re in good shape with our herbs.

– We are. We really are. It was a desperately hard winter. From my standpoint, it was harder on account of the amount of water we got from the hurricane all the way through the winter. You know, a month or so ago, we were still having frequent rains. We’d get an inch and a half at a time, and it just went on, and on, and on, and I think all of our gardens are soaked.

We’re going to have to be very cautious about digging into that wet soil and…- Absolutely.

– …making it compact itself.

– Absolutely.

– So.

– Cilantro.

– Yes. Cilantro, indeed. Now, here’s one that wintered over. And it has a new… – And again, look at the color.

– I know. I love those greens.

– It’s beautiful.

– And then, here’s a new crop, one that’s a bit more uniformly green.

– Right. So, this is one, again, it’s going to be more stressed as we get into hotter weather. Cooler weather, it loved.

– You’ll take it down. You’ll take it out of the garden by June, mid-June, quite frequently. But it’s a great, great thing. It’s so decorative, I think.

– It is. It is. Well, that’s the thing I love most about the herbs, are the color, the texture, and the fragrances.

– Yeah.

– Now, another one of my favorites too is the bronze-leaf fennel. And so, with the cooler weather, we do get more of a bronze color.

– Yeah.

– They pouted a bit in the teems that we had, but they’re…- Once again.

– …emerging great.

– I notice in my more mature one that the older fronds, yes, they develop color, but they also tended to lay over.

– Lie…- Yeah. But from that, they’re not dead. They’re not even wounded.

– Like so.

– Yeah. They developed a different shape, and coming out of the center then, when the sun encourages those new leaves to come out, there they come, bright green.

– It’s beautiful.

– Lovely.

– I love it. You know, our mints, as well, went dormant for the most part through the winter, but they all should emerge just with no problem at all. This is Kentucky Colonel mint that, as we get the new growth again, we’ll take some of these older stems off, but it’s looking beautiful, happy and healthy.

– It’s going to be just fine, absolutely fine. Yeah. And another category I wanted to mention, two rosemarys, both upright, that came through the winter very well in the herb house here, notably better than some of the other uprights. This one is called Spice Island, it’s a tall, upright one, and this is my favorite, Arp.

It was discovered by Madalene in Arp, Texas, and it was notable to her because when she saw it it was deep winter, and the Arp was standing tall and proud, and she said, “Here is a winter-resistant rosemary.”

– True enough.

– It looks great in the garden and…- It does. It does.

– Absolutely.

– Another great one is the comfrey.

– Yes. Comfrey is a curious plant.

– It is.

– A really curious plant and beautiful bloomer.

– It is a beautiful bloomer.

– I would like to point out, this is a plant you need to give some room to.

– Yes. Yes, you do.

– Quite often…it doesn’t spread like mint does at all, it’s a totally different thing, but it does make a large and ever-widening clump, so. But it is a great thing to have in the garden.

– It is. It’s beautiful.

– It’s an ancient…- Medicinal, yeah.

– …medicinal herb and not used that way anymore much, except externally.

– Yeah. Yeah.

– As in poultices.

– So, what do you think about the lavenders, Ann? They seem to fare fairly decently through. You know, we see some damage on this sweet lavender, a few of the foliage, but I do see new growth emerging…- New growth.

– …and on the tip of the same stem.

– Yeah. I think the challenge here is to watch a lavender and see how you can cheer it back.

– We’ve got new growth coming in these notes, so is it…- Yeah.

– They emerge, you think maybe just cut back a third, or like you said, judiciously? – [inaudible] a fourth or a third. Ideally, we would shear lavender back during the depth of the winter before any new growth comes because lavender blooms on old wood, so we don’t want to cut…this time of the year in March, I don’t think we can cut it as much back as we would if it were…- December.

– …late December or early January, but it never hurts to give them a chance.

– I got you.

– We already have, you know, a great fondness for lavender and we want to give it every chance, and then we have to be willing to let it go.

– Right. Okay. Well, let’s go check out the herb bed…- Let’s do it.

– …and see how it’s looking.

– See how it’s looking right now.

– All right.

– Good.

– You know, Ann, our herb garden is like, really, everybody’s should be. It’s not solely herbs, it’s a mixture of plants.

– Yeah.

– And so many plants are herbs, like we talked about the rose. It’s very easy to do and still be able to call it your herb garden.

– Yes, and not only that, but you can fill in where you have holes, or where something isn’t working, or where it’s overgrown its space. It’s changeable… – Exactly.

– …as to your needs.

– And it’s seasonal. You know, we’ve got… – Seasonal.

– One of our favorites in the summertime, and a fall bloomer, is the tagetes or the Mexican marigold, and this plant, and particularly to the novice, might appear to be a goner.

– So many people get discouraged about them at this time of the year, especially when they… “Oh, it’s dead.” And what do we call it? The tug test.

– The tug test.

– Yeah. If you can reach down here and pull, and it doesn’t come out of the ground… – You know you’ve got a great…- …you’ve got a great plant there.

– You do. You have a good root system. And I would encourage people coming into March, and going through the garden, and trying to decide what may or may not return, you know, the tug test is pretty tried and true.

– It’s a pretty good…yes, it is. There’s so many interesting things here, including the volunteers climbing up the wall. But here’s an example of that favorite of all time, salad burnet, as it looks after a long, hard winter. Very wet, very cold, and there’s two beautiful examples in this garden.

– Well, you know, and like you mentioned with the ice, even on a dewy morning like this one, how the water beads up on the foliage…- Yes, it does.

– …it is so pretty.

– Yes, it is.

– It sparkles like diamonds.

– It’s that blue-green leaf surface. Beautiful.

– And then our heirloom bulbs pop up here and there, we plant onions in this garden, and look at the echinacea. It’s already…the cornflower’s coming back again.

– Isn’t it a bit early for that? I’m not sure, but it’s a perennial plant…- It is. It is.

– …so it’s making an appearance already, and I must point out that these so-called weeds are in fact chickweed which is an edible plant. And we all have it in our gardens, we might as well take…- Well, you know… – …advantage of it.

– …it’s green… – It’s grean, yeah. Beautiful – …so I leave it. It’s going to die out in the heat and until the other plants…- Absolutely.

– …come in and take hold, I really don’t have a problem with chickweed.

– I don’t either. Doesn’t it bloom? [inaudible]

– It does.

– It actually blooms.

– It does. A delicate little flower.

– I notice that right beside it there’s one of our low-growing thymes, tiny leaf, low-growing thymes. It’s made it thus far and it will be just fine as time goes on, as well.

– And one of the ones that you mentioned is your favorite, too, is the Newe Ya’ar sage.

– Yes.

– Look how great that looks.

– It looks beautiful. It doesn’t even look misshapen in any way, or no damaged leaves, no fungus.

– Lots of new growth on it.

– It’s beautiful.

– And the Mexican oregano right behind it is that woody plant, a semi-evergreen shrub. Great bloomer through the summer, that lavender tubular bloom, a favorite for the butterflies.

– And I believe bees love it, too.

– They do.

– It’s just exactly the right thing and it’ll be a splash of purple back there…- I know. I love it.

– …lavender against the stone. And let’s see…this is a type of celery, I believe… – It is, it is.

– …in the garden back here. I’ll just step across. And also, we have the bronze fennel coming alive back here, Beverly. Look at this.

– Look how gorgeous, and the leaves are doing just as you mentioned earlier. They’re kind of laid out, you’ve got a lot of new growth emerging. You know, to me, I love to use it in a winter landscape as a grassy substitute. It gives you that light, airy foliage that the grass would, but so beautiful through the winter with that purple.

– It is. It’s a fine, fine plant. And this is a great addition on account of the lush greenness of it, and this is a cool season plant.

– It is. And you know, with that celery flavor, again, to pick it for your soups, and salads, and stews, it’s wonderful.

– There is something that’s hiding back here, and it’s one of our good rosemarys.

– It is.

– It’s going to be this big…- It is.

– …by summer.

– It is.

– Beautiful.

– Well, thank you, Ann. It’s always so much fun to walk through the garden with you and…- Well. -…talk about the herbs.

– It is. I love seeing them. This time of the year, they’re just coming forth and they’re ready for us to get down there and prune, and shape, and herbalize, and use.

– Yes. Well, thanks again.

– My pleasure.