Wednesday, August 17, 2022

It’s “Thyme” for An Herb Garden

Photo by Maria Lamb | Members of the Calusa Garden club repurposing the EarthBoxes used by the TBE Junior Gardeners. They did well with Thai Basil, sage, lemon balm, Cuban oregano, and chives—all cool-weather herbs.

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Remember me to one who lives there – She once was a true love of mine”

So, why the herb selection of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme? And yes, the town of Scarborough in Yorkshire was a site of a large market in the 13th century. They would have sold food and plants such as herbs including parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. 

In the medieval times, herbs had mystical properties—Parsley was known for comfort, Sage was for strength and wisdom, Rosemary was for love, and Thyme was for courage. The herbs referred to in the song lyrics symbolized emotions and feelings. Whenever I touch and smell fragrant herbs, the song lyrics come to mind!

In contemporary times, we find herbs being sold in farmers’ markets, big-box retailers, in the produce section of the local grocery stores and planted in our gardens. The culinary herbs of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme offer a collection worthy of a scented garden. 

By selecting herb varieties not just for the kitchen but also for their beauty and scent, herbs can turn your garden into a delightful sanctuary. Mix and match the sweet smell of basil, the citrusy scent of lemon thyme and the savory aroma of sage, mint and rosemary to create an olfactory experience in your herb collection.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) it’s the sprig of green on the side of your plate served at your favorite restaurant. Slightly peppery, parsley can be used in soups to sauces, as a garnish, mixed with ground meat and any dish that could use a pop of color. “Curly” or “flat-leaf” are the most common varieties and parsley is also the host for black swallowtail butterfly. Suggest planting one for the pollinators and one for yourself.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) has pale green/grayish leaves with a pronounced pine-like aroma used in Grandma’s thanksgiving stuffing recipe. Sage leaves are popular with poultry dishes and meat seasoning. In Italy, sage is commonly chopped, mixed with melted butter and served stirred into pasta or gnocchi. Sages come in tricolor and purple.

Photo by Maura Kelley | Maura Kelley, a Calusa Garden Club member, with basil which she grows both inside near a window and outside on the balcony. She also grows Italian oregano.

You don’t need special culinary skills to add more herbs into your life. According to Susan Neustadt, a Calusa Garden Club member, she uses basil in pasta dinner and sprinkled over pasta. Mint goes into her sun tea or cocktail. Rosemary is used with her chicken dish while sage is great with sausage and used at Thanksgiving.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody herb that you might smell before you see it; its needles produce a strong, mint-like aroma. This culinary herb is used in poultry dishes, soups, spreads, and even teas. 

Photo by Donna Hormel
| Monna Hormel, a Calusa Garden Club member’s herb collection grown in a pot on her deck with sage, rosemary, thyme, and tarragon—they get at least 6 hours of sun.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) There are two main types of thyme, ornamental and culinary, and the three most common types of culinary thyme are French, lemon and caraway. Thyme has a pleasant pungent clover flavor and tastes great both fresh and dried. Add thyme to meat stews, in any slow-cooked soups, vegetables and use the lemon flavor variety on seafood. 

Herbs are easy to grow and some grow year-round in Southwest Florida. They can plant them in the ground, in containers or in EarthBoxes and most prefer 3-6 hours of sunshine. Herbs are also friendly to bees and butterflies.

When Is the Best Time to Start Your Herb Garden? 

September is the time to start your cool-weather herbs like parsley according to the Calusa Garden Club’s Gardening Guide. With this guide, gardeners will become familiar with various vegetation and tips on a monthly schedule. Guides are available for purchase at MICA’s office for $10.

Calusa Garden Club members contribute to this column to educate Marco Islanders and to encourage interest in our beautiful landscape, sustainable planting and eco-friendly practices. Calusa Garden Club is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Club and membership is open to those interested in horticulture, floral design and the environment. For club information, visit or visit the Club’s Facebook at Calusa Garden Club.


3 responses to “It’s “Thyme” for An Herb Garden”

  1. Sue Oldershaw says:

    Great, informative article on herbs!!!

  2. Karin Teeling says:

    Always nice to see what the Garden Club has to offer those of us who are new to gardening in SW Florida. I purchased a garden guide and was amazed at all the information provided: hints, photos, web sites! Please help them get the word out about this amazing pamphlet!!!

  3. Sara Wolf says:

    Great article! Herbs are so easy to grow, and fresh ones are so much more flavorful than dried ones.

Leave a Reply to Karin Teeling Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *