Gahanna honored tradition with its annual sale of thousands of plants and spiced things up with some new activities at Herb Day last weekend.

Guests were offered a free valet service at the May 13 event, allowing them to drop off their herbs at a plant parking lot at the Carriage House, behind the Ohio Herb Education Center, 110 Mill St.

Brooke Sackenheim, the center's manager, said the lot provided a monitored place for visitors to park purchased herbs for the duration of their stay, freeing them to check out herb-related vendors, listen to lectures or grab a bite to eat.

One of the guest lecturers was Delaware's Susan Liechty, an advanced master gardener and past president of the Herb Society of America.

She offered a "Top 10" list of herbs that included garlic, one of the easiest to plant.

"It's easy and it's known as a cure-all for everything," Liechty said. "It has been studied for cholesterol and other issues."

She said mint must be contained or it will end up at a neighbor's residence in no time.

"There are so many varieties of mint," Liechty said. "Apple mint is one of my favorite mints."

She said she likes green tea with rosemary.

"Rosemary has been researched for Alzheimer's," Liechty said. "Rosemary means remembrance. Many organizations are studying rosemary right now."

She said English thyme is a standby for cooking.

"There are over 300 varieties of thyme," Liechty said. "It has a high antiseptic quality. It was used in World War II for wounds."

She said what's most important is that people use herbs.

"So many people grow them and don't know what to do with them," Liechty said. "I'm a cook. I think some people are afraid of that."

Michael Bell, a chef at Barrel & Boar, said he loves to cook with herbs.

He was another guest lecturer, speaking on the topic, "Home Style Cooking with Herbs."

Bell offered up recipes for basil pesto and spaghetti squash saute.

"Herbs are super delicious," he said. "I try to incorporate them in everything."

He said his "go-to" herb is dry thyme.

In cooking with herbs, Bell said, dry herbs go into a recipe at the beginning while fresh herbs are added at the end.

Pleasant temperatures brought out a crowd to Creekside Plaza for the day that marked 45 years of Gahanna being designated as the Herb Capital of Ohio.

Karen Lefebvre and Debbie Franxman of northern Kentucky saw the event in Long Weekends Magazine and decided to visit Gahanna.

"I just got here and I'm impressed already," Lefebvre said. "I love basil and spearmint."

Franklin County master gardener Mike Keys said the nice thing about central Ohio is the many places where people can buy herbs.

"My wife and I grow ours from seed," he said. "We pot some and bring them inside in the winter.

"Nothing gets roasted without herbs," Keys said. "I grew up on a farm. (Gardening) was a way of life in the '50s and '60s. We canned a lot. We had a root cellar."

Keys, who manned an information booth at the event, said most of the questions he received were about bugs.

"Some plants repel bugs and spiders," he said.

In addition to the celebration of everything herbal at Herb Day, Gahanna Lincoln High School's Community Art Class held a second arts fair to coincide with Herb Day at the Veterans of Foreign Wars park.

The Herb N' Arts Fair showcased the work of students from all 11 Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools buildings to increase awareness of the importance of the arts in the community.

The fair featured art, music, physical activities and food trucks.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla