The Madalene Hill Herb Garden
The Arbor Gate's herb garden was installed in May, l998, with the initial planting done by herb enthusiasts who attended one of the first herb talks. As with all gardens, it continues to evolve.
In 2005, to honor our Round Top neighbor and internationally-revered herb expert Madalene Hill, we began to include as many herbs as possible that are closely associated with her. Some she has introduced in this area; others have been named to honor her contributions to the field.
Ann Wheeler of the Log House Herb Farm is our collaborator in this ongoing project. Our intention is to recognize Madalene's life-long work of identifying herbs that will flourish in Southern gardens and of helping to educate gardeners about the requirements and uses of such valuable additions to our herbal vocabulary.
The garden, therefore, will always be a work in progress. Seasonal changes will be made, new herbs will be added in a spirit of experimentation, and most importantly, herbs acquired through Madalene's ongoing work will be seen herein.
As of February 6, 2005, the garden was officially named The Madalene Hill Herb Garden at The Arbor Gate.
Following is a list of herbs associated with Madalene that currently have a place in the garden:
- Arp Rosemary - A favorite upright rosemary of excellent flavor and cold-hardiness. Discovered by Madalene Hill many years ago in an Arp, Texas, garden. This is a must-have for cooks.
- Bell Pepper Basil - A beautiful shade-loving basil with distinctive scent and flavor of bell pepper that originated in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. Although Madalene has had an example of this plant for several years, it is not yet widely available on the market.
- Cilician Parsley - Experimental flat-leaf parsley from a Turkish province. Characterized by a citrus after-taste; this parsley is being grown in several Arbor Gate gardens in order to gather seeds for propagation in commercial quantities by the Log House Herb Farm.
- Doublemint 'Madalene Hill' - Formerly called Red-Stemmed Apple Mint, this is the only mint having both peppermint and spearmint oils, which give it an especially subtle and complex flavor. It was re-named for Madalene because of her work to broaden the cultivation and use of this wonderful culinary mint. Planted in a large pot at west entry.
- Habak Mint - A mostly aromatic and ornamental mint whose provenance is Biblical: this is the mint referred to in the Bible as the one to be used for the payment of taxes. Beautiful gray-green color and a fitting addition to the herbal prayer or meditation garden. Planted in a large pot at north entry.
- Hill Hardy Rosemary - One of the best upright rosemary varieties for our climate; it was named for Madalene Hill in recognition of the extensive research she has conducted over the years to determine which of the rosemary varieties will perform best in the South.
- Hilltop Oregano - An unusual strain of origanum x majoricum, first given to Madalene by a visitor from California many years ago. Though it closely resembles sweet marjoram, this oregano possesses a flavor more subtle and complex than either ordinary marjoram or any of the more commonly used culinary oreganos.
- Mexican Mint Marigold - tagetes lucida - This now-familiar herb was brought to Madalene in the early l960's by a woman from Mexico who said she used it to make a tea for when "you are worried". In researching the herb, Madalene found how similar it was to tarragon. As she reports, "I had not found a source for tarragon plants except from growers in Massachusetts who grew tarragon in the fields. They could not get into their frozen fields until the May thaw during some years. Plants I ordered were then dug, wrapped in newspaper, and mailed via parcel post. Twelve to 15 days later, the package would arrive with perhaps one or two plants that had survived, but too badly damaged to tolerate our May summer days. We began using mint marigold for cooking school. Visiting French chefs loved this herb from Mexico that tasted like tarragon. I think we probably were the first to introduce it as a culinary herb. Its long history as a medicinal tea herb was well known."
- Ne'we Ya'ar Sage - This exceptional culinary and ornamental sage was developed in Israel for commercial production throughout desert areas of the Middle East. For several years it was labeled 'Hybrid #4' or even 'Silver Sage'. Its heat tolerance enables it to survive our summers much more readily than the ordinary garden sages. A sturdy perennial, Ne'we Ya'ar Sage is an early and prolific bloomer in the spring.
- South African Wormwood - In contrast to other artemisias such as 'Powis Castle', this variety is non-invasive. Highly regarded as a medicinal herb in its country of origin, it has been included in the Pharmacy Garden at Festival Hill in Round Top.
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