Herbs aren’t just for gardeners, chefs, the health-conscious or those who like to smell nice; they’re for all of those people and more besides.
“Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, the Pennsylvania Herb and Garden Festival has something for you” says Susan Eggleston, the festival committee president.
The 14th annual festival arrives April 13 at the York Expo Center.
“It’s a wonderful way for novice gardeners to come out and get some great ideas,” Eggleston says.
More than 75 vendors will feature a variety of garden products as well as useful everyday herbal items at the show. In addition, the show has “knowledgeable speakers presenting on topics such as this year’s herb of the year — the rose — growing herbs to be dried for tea, native plants that attract birds and butterflies, vegetable gardens, how to go organic and much more,” Eggleston says.
Workshop: A gardener with more than 20 years of experience, Eggleston will lead a workshop on creating an herb garden chair.
“It can be placed on your front porch or in a garden and can be used year after year,” she says. “The idea behind the project is to get people involved with the environment. It is great for beginner gardens and those with health problems who cannot get down to garden anymore. The garden chair provides easy-to-access and easy-to-care-for plants.”
The presentation will teach beginner herb gardeners a variety of information they will need to start their own gardens.
“I discuss topics ranging from information on your basic herbs such as rosemary and thyme to your more obscure types such as hollyhocks and lavender,” Eggleston says. “The presentation also includes information on what types of soil to use, sunlight requirements and an overall beginner knowledge of how to use herbs in cooking.”
Growing your own: Gardening, Eggleston says, is a better alternative to buying some items at the grocery store.
“Growing your own herbs and vegetables is a much cheaper way to go,” she says. “We are lucky in this area to have a great growing season, so it’s very easy for someone to grow their own fresh herbs to use during the growing season and to dry them out to use all year.”
The practice is one that can make gardeners feel connected to their roots.
“I was first introduced to herbs through my grandparents,” Eggleston says. “The smell of fresh herbs still brings back wonderful memories of my grandmother’s kitchen.”
But herbs can be used for much more than simply cooking, she says.
“Many people have the misconception of what an herb is,” Eggleston says “An herb is any plant used for its flavor, aroma or medicine. The festival will have many vendors with items made from herbs such as soap and herbal tea.”
Small spaces: The festival and the workshop also aim to show attendees how they can garden without living on a farm.
“I don’t live on a farm; I live on a half-acre lot in a development and I have a garden,” Eggleston says. “I garden not just for the culinary aspect of it, but to also attract birds and butterflies to the area.”
The eco-friendly theme is another focus of the show.
“I believe in becoming organic,” Eggleston says. “I hope I can teach those who watch my presentation how plants can be used for good and how easy it is to garden. I teach to recycle materials such as old strainers or pots from the kitchen and use them in the garden. They become great discussion pieces.”
Organic also means eliminating pesticides — which, as Eggleston explains, may not be necessary when gardeners pick certain plants.
“Many plants can be used as natural pesticides and insecticides,” she says. “For example, certain types of geraniums keep mosquitoes away and will help protect your tomatoes from insects.”
Above all, though, the herb and garden festival gives beginners a place to start and experts a place to trade success stories.
“My advice to any novice herb gardener is to experiment and have fun,” Eggleston says. “Try different herbs and grow something you want to try using in the kitchen.”
— Reach Kyle Dunlap at 854-1575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Going to the festival
The Pennsylvania Herb and Garden Festival runs from noon to 7 p.m. Friday, April 13, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in Memorial Hall at the York Expo Center, 334 Carlisle Ave., West Manchester Township.
Admission is $5.
For more information, call 848-2596 or visit www.paherbandgardenfestival.com.