Yesterday we went to the annual festival put on by local gardening and horticultural groups in Mattoon, the neighboring town to Charleston. It's called Herb Fest. Being from Colorado, the word "herb" still has a different primary meaning than culinary plants, but beyond semantics, the festival is a highlight of spring. The day was cool and rain was falling, but the turnout seemed robust. I was looking for a few plants I have been unable to grow successfully from seed: thyme and oregano. The nice Amish folks we bought sage and rosemary from two years ago were there, and we decided to pick out four different plants for the herb garden. I picked up a nice variety of thyme called "Porlock". It had the thymiest scent to its healthy leaves. We picked up a Lady lavender plant... I haven't been able to grow lavender from seed either. I was thinking about buying another oregano, but they didn't really have any cool varieties, so Rich suggested we try two new herbs. He picked out patchouli and I picked out lemon verbena. I didn't know patchouli was even a plant. The one we picked out looks a little rough-for-the-wear (but I think it will come through just fine)... the plant is about four inches tall, with quarter-inch diameter leaves that are dark green and rough to the touch. And rubbing the leaves definitely releases the unmistakeable scent of patchouli. I am thinking that it will add amazing scent to our homemade bath salts. The lemon verbena smells just awesome...so lemony and yet so green. I will use it for both cooking and for other things (infusing alcohol and adding it bath salts, for starters) as well. Rich had said we'd spend just ten dollars, and these plants were $2.50 each, so we were good. On our way back to the car, we passed the Master Gardener's stall where we bought the really cool Rattlesnake Master plant we have growing outside our kitchen window. They had a huge selection of perennials and we were drawn to these cool-looking Torch Lilies. We bought two. I was glad we bought a couple of new plants, as that's the main reason I like to go to Herb Fest. On the way out, I did see some really cool oreganos (one was an almost sea-foam light green color), but we had already spent more money than we had meant to... I am looking forward to planting these six new plants and hopefully watching them thrive!
Below are pictures of the Torch Lilies, Lemon Verbena, then Patchouli.