Arbor Gate's Picks of the Month
Habak Mint (Mentha longifolia subsp. schimperi)
The Arbor Gate’s monthly ‘Herb Picks’ for 2014 honor the memory of Madalene Hill and celebrate her pioneering work in bringing herbs to all the gardeners of the Gulf South (and beyond). Each month’s herb is closely associated with Madalene.
February 2014 marks the fifth anniversary of the dedication of the Madalene Hill Herb Garden at The Arbor Gate.
She was our teacher, mentor, and friend.
Habak Mint is a splendid example of the cultural enrichment provided by the herbs in our gardens, our kitchens, and our lives. According to some writers, Habak is a mostly aromatic and ornamental mint whose provenance is Biblical: this may be the mint referred to in the Bible as the one to be used for the payment of taxes. Its beautiful gray-green color makes it a fitting addition to the herbal prayer or meditation garden.
A bushy variety from the Middle East, Habak Mint likes sun to part shade and can reach 2 to 4 feet in height. Like other mints, Habak is a spreading perennial, and should be planted in a large container. Its fragrance and flowers make it very attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Habak Mint can be used as a houseplant because of its tolerance for part shade; it requires consistently moist soil and shouldn’t dry out excessively between waterings.
Madalene always enjoyed the story behind the herb. She felt that knowing the herb’s history was a part of its cultural value and charm, in addition to its many uses. Habak Mint exemplifies her own curiosity about a herb’s provenance and her eagerness to share the story with other herb enthusiasts.