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{ Category Archives } A Garden Witches’ Herbal

Successful Overwintering of Rosemary and Unplanted Perennials

Usually when I attempt to keep Rosemary (a tender perennial in this zone) alive, I bring it inside in the fall, and it dies before Christmas.  But every year, I persisted, thinking “this year, it would be different.”  This past fall, fate changed the way I handled things.  When I fractured a metatarsal in my foot the first week of November and ended up in a boot cast, it meant I was unable to finish up the last of my gardening for the year.  I had a few true perennials and three small blueberry shrubs that I had not gotten around to planting, along with a garden full of leaves that I was not able to rake.

Mushrooming is Plenty of Fungi

Garden Witch Photo

Garden Witch Photo

In early June, I spent a day in the company of “some fungi,” three men that are members of the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club   I apologize for the bit of a pun, but I couldn’t help myself.  The fun guys, better known as Dick Dougall, Jim Tunney and John Stuart, taught an Introduction to Mushrooms class at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The morning consisted of a classroom session, followed by an afternoon hike in Schenley Park in search of mushrooms.  By the way, we did find 15 different types of mushrooms in  Schenley Park that afternoon, not too bad following a relatively dry few days.   

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A Garden Witches’ Herbal

The first installment of “A Garden Witches’ Herbal,” on Basil is below. It originally was published in an employee newsletter about 8 years ago in similar form. I enjoyed writing these pieces then and will bring them back here. There are several more, such as Lavender and Rosemary that will be coming soon. I will also be adding more herbs to the collection from my presentations that I either do not have enough time to cover fully or do not have the opportunity to cover for one reason or another.

All of the herbal resources will be provided as a separate page for easy reference.

A Garden Witches’ Herbal: Basil


Garden Witch Photo

Garden Witch Photo

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

There are over 60 species of Basil (Ocimum spp.), which have various culinary and miscellaneous uses. Basil folklore is often contradictory, depending on which geographic or cultural information is consulted. Even the origin of the name of basil has been disputed since ancient times. The Greek word “baslikon” means “kingly” or “king” and basil is sometimes referred to as the “king of herbs.” The ancient Greeks believed that only the king could harvest basil from the royal garden. The French call basil “herbe royale,” while the Latin word “ocimum” is from the Greek, translated to “the sense of being able to enjoy the fragrance.” To illustrate the contradictions associated with basil, it is said to symbolize hatred, love, good wishes, warm friendship, wealth, poverty, and good luck.