Northwest News

Herb Day to introduce new manager, horticulture specialist

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Central Ohioans might ready their trowels and spades in anticipation of the more than 100 garden plants available for sale at the annual Herb Day.

Gahanna's Creekside Park & Plaza, 123 Mill St., will host the event, set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 11.

The popular plant sale will feature 10 kinds of thyme, eight varieties of basil and sage, three types of lavender, five oregano choices and such herbs as chamomile, chives, cilantro, catnip, dill, fennel, garlic, leeks, lemon balm, lemon grass, mint, parsley, rosemary, shallots, sweet annie and tarragon.

In addition to the sale of herbs and herb-related products, the event will introduce Brooke Sackenheim, the new manager of the Ohio Herb Education Center.

Sackenheim began working as an assistant recreation coordinator for the Gahanna Division of Parks & Recreation last June, and she since has been promoted to coordinator and herb center manager.

"We have a great schedule," she said. "I'm excited about the speakers. There's something everyone can learn from herbs."

Sackenheim will take visitors on a "meet and greet" herb walk, sponsored by the Gahanna Herbal Trail, beginning at 1 p.m. through Creekside Park.

Her interest in herbs peaked in the early 2000s, when she participated in an educational herbal walk in Portland, Ore.

"It was the most interesting walk, as a lady identified herbs within two blocks," she said. "It inspired me so much that I took three months of intensive classes. I learned about essential oils and ways to use herbs."

Sackenheim has studied with many experts in the business, she said.

"There's so much people can learn about herbs, from making traditional medicines to using herbs in food," she said.

Sackenheim credited Jane "Bunnie" Geroux for giving Gahanna a great foundation to build on, as she led the effort for the city to become the Herb Capital of Ohio in 1972.

"We can now grow to be an herbal resource center for all of Ohio," she said. "More and more people are starting to see us as the herb capital, and this is all because she had a vision."

Herb Day attendees will get various tips and ideas from guest speakers in the upper plaza at Creekside.

Barbara Arnold, horticulture program coordinator at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, will be featured at 10 a.m. to discuss "Weeds as Companion Plants."

"Not every plant is wanted, and not every weed is unwanted," Arnold said. "Dandelions are edible and good for honeybees. They're bad because they throw seeds and are usually just one-day bloomers."

Arnold will discuss weeds as pollinators and the ways weeds could be a companion to a garden.

"Plants as Edible Landscaping" will be the topic of discussion with Jorgensen Farms' Val Jorgensen at noon.

Jorgensen will highlight the 2013 herb of the year, the elderberry, one of her favorite plants.

"It really fits in well for Herb Day," Jorgensen said. "It is edible; it has medicinal properties; it's a beautiful plant, and it offers structure in your landscape."

She also will explore the principles of edible landscaping in and around the home.

"Lettuce, vegetable plants, fruit trees, berries and even roses are edible, and they offer beauty as well as utility," Jorgensen said. "It just makes good economic sense."

"Using Your Garden as Your Medicine Chest" will be the last guest-speaker topic at 3 p.m.

Dawn Combs, of Marysville's Mockingbird Meadows, helps people take control of their food and medicine. One example of an herb Combs likes for medicinal purposes is comfrey.

"It's easy to grow, and it's gorgeous, with lush green leaves and purple flowers," she said. "It's a perennial, and it knits the skin together for scrapes and cuts."

Expert herb advice won't stop with the guest speakers at Herb Day. Herbalist Debra Knapke, who spoke at last year's event, will be available to answer herb-related questions from 10 a.m. to noon at the herb information station.

Knapke is the author of five books, including Herb Gardening for the Midwest and Best Garden Plants for Ohio.

For more on Gahanna's Herb Day, go online to ohioherbeducationcenter.org.

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