- UC Marin Master Gardener Events & Classes
Garden Help from UC Marin Master Gardeners
- Farmers Markets
- Help Desk
- Chamomile: easy to grow and makes a nice cup of tea
- Ferns: ancient plants
- Harvesting summer crops
- Help cut flowers live longer
- Blueberries: healthy, tasty, and pretty
- Growing and harvesting beets
- Oak trees of Marin
- Hummingbirds, nature’s extremists
- The benefits of houseplants
- What to do with spent bulbs
- Fruit trees: benefits of thinning young fruit
- Microgreens: tiny plants, big flavor
- How to grow delicious beans
- All about citrus
- Ornamental grasses
- Beneficial insects
- Preventing a codling moth invasion
- Stop snails in their tracks
- Winter garden color
- Caring for holiday gift plants
- Propagating native plants
- Japanese maples
- Container gardening
- Growing gorgeous camellias
- Redwood trees
- Pomegranates: an ancient tree
- Bulbs for spring
- Nothing quite like a freshly picked bouquet
- Seeds hold the miracle of life, so save, swap and share them
- Sold on Salvia
- Sudden Oak Death: a million trees gone and counting
- Habitat gardens
- Growing In Your Garden Now - Fava Beans
- Using water effectively in the garden
- Yikes, thrips
- Growing a salad in a pot
- Rain gardens: an attractive solution to a challenging environmental problem
- How to select bare root roses
- Lovely birds... or pests?
- Australian plants in winter
- Get a head start on spring with cold frames
- Snails and slugs: keep them out of the garden
- Sow seeds now for flowers in spring and summer
- Fire-safe landscaping
- Plants made for the shade
- Chinese pistache tree glows in autumn
- Attracting honey and native bees to your garden
- Sow wildflower seeds in fall for spring show
- Native shrubs create a visual anchor in landscapes - fast
- What to plant in the fall-winter veggie garden
- Proper pruning of wisteria for a plethora of blossoms
- Compost for every corner of your spring garden
- All about mushrooms
- Butterflies in the garden
- Growing blueberries
- How to plant a fruit tree
- Protecting plants from frost
- What's that plant?
- Bright spots of color lift the drabness of the winter garden
- Books for Marin gardeners
- Benefits of School Gardens
- Trees: not just nice to look at
- Dealing with mosquitos
- Epilobium – California fuchsia
- Why bees matter, and how you can help
- Picking the Right Plant for the Right Place in Your Garden
- What's That Plant?
- Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh
- Late Summer Color
- Growing Summer Squash
- Short on space? Containers!
- Herbs: tough, attractive, practical
- These plants are true companions
- Companion planting in the vegetable garden
- Get Grounded – Healthy Soil Does Matter
- Mushrooms on the March
- Our Gentle Winters are Good for Vegetables
- Rodents like it Warm
- Know What Makes an Invasive Species Invasive
- California Natives - Plant Like a Native
- Consider a Simple Water-Catchment System and Rain Garden/Bioswale Before Winter Rains Arrive
- Have You Scheduled a FREE Bay-Friendly Garden Walk?
- A Green Autumn
- Rx for Pests: Ants
- Fine Tune Your Garden
- Colorful Drought-Tolerant Plants Thrive in Marin
- Water Restrictions and Recognizing Signs of Water Stress
- UC Researcher Is Helping Plants Survive the Drought
- Summer Is Perfect For Peppers
- Do the Leaves on Your Trees Look Scorched?
- Fine Tune Your Garden
- How to Recognize Drought and Water Stress
- Spring is the Time for Potatoes, Asparagus and Citrus
- Don't Let Stink Bugs... Bug Your Vegetables
- Harvesting Berries
- Water Heroes
- Natural Cold Storage
- Fruit Trees; Why We Treat Them in Dormancy
- Fondness for Old Friends
- What Happens to Garden Bad Guys in Winter?
- Plants that aren't blown away by the wind
- A hill o' beans
- Fruit tree thinning
- Fragrant plants: Add some chocolate or Kool-Aid to your garden
- Top 10 resolutions for Marin gardeners
- Trees with interesting bark shine in winter
- Who says your garden has to be green?
- Plant bulbs now for spring beauty
- Gardener's checklist for fall
- Cover crops boost soil in vegetable beds
- Rx: Living with deer
- Growing berries in Marin
- How to build healthy soil
- Gardener's checklist for summer
- Water-saving tips for the home garden
- Gardener's checklist for spring
- Stop the popping - Controlling hairy bittercress
- How to control aphids
- Brightening up the winter garden
- Selecting a fruit tree
- What to plant and harvest in the winter vegetable garden
- Rain, rain, don't go away
- Gardener's checklist for winter
- Getting rid of rats
- Fall: a time for planning and planting
- Asparagus: spears for years
- Lawn: use it or lose it
- Rx for powdery mildew
- Community Outreach Projects of UC Marin Master Gardeners
- Great Gardening Information
- Selecting Plants
- Marin Master Gardener Independent Journal Articles
- How to Become a Master Gardener
- UC Marin Master Gardeners Opportunity Fund: Providing for the Future
Herbs: tough, attractive, practical
Herbs with History
The medieval Chateaudun in north central France dates from the twelfth century. In the fifteenth century, it was home to Jean de Dunois, comrade-in-arms of Joan of Arc. A medicinal herb garden lies to the side of the central courtyard, in the shadow of the tall, circular tower called the donjon. Its square plots are edged in neatly trimmed boxwood. Inside the perimeter of each plot, a number of herbs grow in less orderly profusion.
Although France and Marin County are miles apart, the two share similar Mediterranean climates that herbs adore. This includes full sun, dry summers, and a tolerance for poor soil. For this reason, there are a number of species that have been grown for centuries at Chateaudun that also flourish in Marin. Many have rich histories and medicinal properties that have benefited generations of people.
Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is an annual whose first growth is a clump of bright green roundish leaves. A stem with feathery leaves shoots up from the clump. Clusters of white flowers appear at stem tips in summer. After about four months, licorice-flavored seeds will be ready to harvest. The feathery leaves can be used in salads and the seeds in baked goods. Medicinally, the seeds were used to aid digestion and sweeten bad breath.
Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual that provides good drought-tolerant groundcover. Its bristly leaves have a cucumber flavor. Use small tender leaves in salads or steam larger leaves as greens. Its star-shaped blue flowers can be used as an edible garnish. Medicinally, leaves were supposed to relieve melancholy. Also reputed to bring courage, borage was added to the final stirrup cup of those departing to fight in the Crusades.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is an annual with daisy-like flowers and finely cut foliage. It prefers full sun and moderate water. Chamomile tea has been used since medieval times to cure headaches and relieve stress. More recently, Beatrix Potter had Peter Rabbit's mother give him chamomile tea after his stressful misadventures in Mr. McGregor's garden.
French tarragon (Artemesia dracunculus) is a sprawling perennial with shiny, dark green, aromatic leaves. It prefers full sun and little water. Leaves are used in cooking meats and in sauces and sprigs may be added to white wine vinegar to create tarragon vinegar.
Sorrel is a perennial with long arrow-shaped leaves. Common sorrel (Rumex acetosa) grows to three feet tall whereas French sorrel (Rumex scutatus) grows only eighteen inches tall. Both species taste like tangy spinach, though French sorrel is milder and with more lemon flavor. Sorrel leaves can be used to make soup, eaten in salads, or as greens. Sorrel is more heat tolerant than spinach and produces throughout the growing season.
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is the shrubby perennial sage used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Its aromatic wrinkled leaves are grayish-green on top and white and fuzzy underneath. Often used in stuffing or in sauces, sage may also be added to salads. Sage tea was a traditional spring tonic - a mild laxative helping to clean the system of toxins built up in the body over the winter months. With its double meaning, sage is an emblem of age and wisdom. An adage says: "A man will live to aye (old age)/Who eats sage in May."
Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is native to the eastern Mediterranean region. This perennial can be grown from seeds planted in the fall. Plants may reach three feet tall and wide. Its divided, glossy green leaves can be used in salads and added to soups and stews. Its greenish yellow flowers will yield seeds in the fall that are valued for their celery-like flavor as an addition to homemade breads and cakes.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial plant growing about two feet tall and eighteen inches wide. Its prolific seeds easily self-sow. The Greek word for bee is "Melissa," and bees certainly find it attractive. It is prized for its lemon-scented foliage, which may be added to cold drinks, fruit salads, and fish dishes. Medicinally, it was used to make tea given to patients suffering from colds or fevers.
These plants we love in our gardens today have a rich history. They have been planted by gardeners for centuries and used for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. Whether we use these plants in our kitchens or just enjoy them in our gardens, we can appreciate their long and useful heritage.
edited by Marie Narlock and Anne Wick