In this episode, Beverly Welch is joined by Ann Wheeler to discuss what’s functioning well in the heat and other opportunities for herbs.

♪ [music] ♪- [Beverly] Hi. Welcome to the Arbor Gate here in Tomball, Texas. I’m Beverly Welch with my good friend, Ann Wheeler, from Log House Herbs.

We’re here to talk to you today a little bit after coming off of an extremely cold winter, a beautiful long, cool spring, we have hit the dog days of summer. So we want to kind of go through the herb garden here and talk about what’s functioning well in the heat, coming off the cool, and go through a little bit with you about the herbs.

– [Ann] And actually, it’s a great opportunity to see how mixed these gardens are, even though they’re the feature of a herb growing area.

– This one, in particular, is probably the most diverse of any section in the herb garden.

– I think so, Beverly. Right now it’s in its glory, too.

– It is. It is. We’ve got the medicinal aloe and the Queen Anne’s Lace has been extraordinary. We very seldom see this kind of bloom off this plant, but again, I think we can attribute it to the cool weather we had.

– Cool weather. Yes. It’s gone, gone now, but you can tell it’s a member of the carrot family by those blooms on it. Yeah.

– And you know what’s been a superstar, too, is the Hypericum or the St John’s Wort, which is a great evergreen shrub if you will, but you get the beautiful blooming berry.

– And this is…it’s entering the high season of its bloom time, now, right?

– It is. It is. And, of course, you always have to have a rose in the herb garden, which it was over the year about five or six years ago I believe.

– Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed.

– Rosemary tried and true.

– Tried and true. You must have rosemary, and several kinds, preferably.

– This is our parsley, and again, it’s molting in this heat, but we’ve left it to enjoy the bloom, but also for the butterflies.

– Yes. These plants with this type of bloom are related to each other. They are part of the same family, the Umbelliferae family, and you can see those blooms are shaped like little tiny umbrellas.

– Yeah. And then, of course, one of our all-time favorites is the Comfrey. And the bloom is gorgeous. But I do want to make note, you start out with this very innocent-looking plant, but you end up with this beautiful specimen.

– Yeah, it’s not an invasive plant, but it does spread.

– It does.

– It would be nice if you could give it a back corner and just let it do its thing because the flowers are gorgeous.

– They are gorgeous. And it gets medicinally, it’s a great addition to an herb garden.

– Certainly is, and very, very ancient in its uses.

– Yes. Well, let’s go take a look over here.

– Yes.

– Well, in this section, Ann, you’ll notice the Echinacea came back just…

– Beautiful.

– Stunning. And the salad burnet?

– Yes.

– It’s staying in also. And I love that cucumber flavor.

– Yes.

– That is one of our most underused herbs, I think.

– Well, you just have to get used to the way it looks and the way it grows and how to use it. But it’s a very, very rewarding and reliable.

– Right. And right behind it you’ll notice the Tagetes or the Mexican Marigold, our Texas tarragon. I try not to discourage people from trying to grow French tarragon, but this is really your choice.

– I like having both because the flavor differs somewhat and this year I’ve had good luck with French tarragon, but it follows 10 or 15 years of total failure. So I rely on the Mexican Mint.

– And again, because of the cool spring, our Bronze Fennel is hanging in. And again, we’re leaving it for the butterflies. And I love the sage, the [inaudible] sage, but about two weeks ago we had a torrential rain, a six-inch rain and followed by immediate heat.

So this is what happened, which is not uncommon.

– Not at all. This really was developed in a desert setting, but it has adapted very well to our South Texas gardens, and it’s a long-time favorite of mine. I think, and since you brought your clippers, let’s do show and tell for just cutting this back until you’ve done it, you may not realize how radically you can prune it and still have it come back from the roots.

– And as you see, where there’s a lot of new growth emerging here at the base.

– Yeah. When I do it, I always leave just a segment or two of leaves down at the bottom so it can do photosynthesis.

– So I’m really cutting this almost all the way down to the crown of this plant. Cutting big pieces. And I don’t want people to be afraid to prune.

– No. No, absolutely. And especially what we don’t really want is to continue giving space to plants that look really bad.

– Exactly.

– And there’s no need to, at all.

– So on all these branches, there’s new growth coming out.

– Yes, there is. There’s plenty of it.

– So it just looks completely rejuvenated just after a few clips. You’re right, it is a good one for us.

– It is.

– Do you want to step over next door and continue?

– Yeah, let’s do. This is one of my favorite beds, Beverly. I don’t know quite why. There’s just something very calm about it. And I like the spaces between the plants. You can see them grow and develop and I enjoy that part as well of gardening.

– Well, and what’s done extraordinarily well is that woolly thyme.

– It’s a surprise to me because my idea about woolly thyme is you better live in Denver if you want to grow it. But it works there so well and don’t you think it’s the drainage it gets and the air circulation?

– Absolutely.

– It’s elevated up off the garden floor, and I think it’s very happy there.

– That’s a good point. Given the wet spring that we had, it has to be that it’s in a container and up off the ground. You’re exactly right.

– I think that would be ideal.

– And I love it combined with the succulent.

– Yeah, I do too. It’s a combination that you wouldn’t see just anywhere. And it adds quite a lot of interest to that woolly thyme, doesn’t it?

– It does. And you know, you said this is your favorite spots. It’s got one of my favorite plants in it which is the Mexican oregano.

– Absolutely.

– And as far as I’m concerned, it’s a real superstar.

– It is. I’ve never really killed one of these. I can’t say that for very many herbs, but really and truly it’s a tough native plant, it can take so many different kinds of soil, sun, and water, I mean, it’ll adapt to you, to your garden, to a pot, and the bees and the butterflies. It’s a magnet.

– It’s a great natural source. It’s beautiful, and it can get I’d say, three by three easy. Kind of an open drapey. So we’ve taken it for space purposes and actually trellised it here in the garden.

– So here you can have it a vertical space and…

– It works well.

– It works very well. Beautiful, these little tubular blooms are what draw the insects.

– They’re gorgeous. Wait, we’ve got one more space to take a peek. You want to walk over?

– Yes.

– Okay. So this is our last stop on our little mini-herb tour.

– A mini-herb tour, yeah.

– So on this bed again, we’re back to our umbels. We’ve got our parsley.

– This one is standing in the shade right now, but the sun will hit it all afternoon. And then these parsleys over here will come into bloom and do the same thing soon.

– Right. And then we’ll pull those afterwards and replace with some of our heat-loving basils, maybe the globe variety that stay a little smaller.

– Smaller. And don’t forget African Blue for the bees.

– Yes. Absolutely. And the oregano there, we had… it’s the Hilltop and gave it a little trim after it bloomed at the spring. It had taken this whole space so we tamed it.

– You will find it doing that. It’s just a great, great find of Madeline’s. She named it Hilltop. Nobody knows what botanical name it needs.

– Well, that’s all it needs.

– We call it Hilltop.

– And again, the rudbeckia and the echinacea are returnees from last year. Now you know some people might think it’s kind of unsightly to leave this bent blooms like that, but we do that for the seeds and the birds.

– Yes. And it’s so worth doing because they go along and as nature will have her way they plant those seeds later on, where they’re standing on a fencepost or something.

– That’s right. And here is our turmeric.

– It’s a lovely ginger, isn’t it?

– It’s beautiful.

– And did they bloom, Beverly?

– It does bloom, and what’s a nice surprise with this, this is in full west sun, and it does quite well. So a part shade exposure all the way to full sun, it does great.

– And did it freeze?

– It does freeze back. It’s [inaudible], it’s going to freeze back every year, but you see how it returns. So if you want a harvest, you would lift it, divide, and then put some back and then you always have fresh turmeric.

– That’s a great idea. Turmeric is good for us.

– It is. And then, of course, we’ve got a basil starting back here. That one in particular is the Siam Queen. And as you mentioned, the basils, when they’re in bloom, they’re gorgeous and they’re great nectar plants.

– They really are good. And I understand that the African Blue is considered a champion by bee herders.

– Exactly. Well, this has been a lot of fun this morning. Thanks for coming out and taking a look with me and I’ll look forward to our next adventure.

– Always a pleasure, Beverly, thanks. ♪ [music] ♪