Plant lovers can spend an evening with friends mingling among herbs in support of the Ohio Herb Education Center from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. May 11 at Herbs in the Alley.

As the newest event in the Herb Week lineup, Herbs in the Alley will be hosted in the yard and alley by the center, 110 Mill St.

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, Gahanna is presenting the event.

"So many people are curious about the care and use of herbs. This evening provides them a chance to talk with experts to answer their questions," said Brooke Sackenheim, recreation coordinator and Ohio Herb Education Center herbalist.

The event was inspired by the desire for herb enthusiasts to have an exclusive evening with herbal experts. It is aligned with the education center's mission to share the benefits and various uses of herbs in everyday life with the public.

Sackenheim said the evening would bring gardeners, herbalists and plant experts together for in-depth conversations.

Local herbalists will have their wares displayed for purchase.

Herbal experts scheduled to attend include Mark Miller of the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, and Susan Liechty of the Herb Society of America.

They will discuss their favorite uses for herbs, as well as gardening tips for the season.

Visitors may strike up a conversation about their favorites and discover the secrets of their techniques.

Local wineries and a food truck will be on hand for wine flights and a light meal.

Tickets are on sale at www.gahanna.gov/celebrateherbs.

The weekend will continue with Herb Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 12 at Creekside Plaza, 117 Mill St., with Andrea Taylor, State Farm agent, as presenter. Supporting sponsors are James Hardie and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, Gahanna.

Herb Day is a one-day, annual celebration of all things herbal for the Gahanna community. It is a free learning event, with speakers who cover a variety of topics.

"Herbs are a great support system for pollinators," said Tom Kneeland, Gahanna mayor. "This is our first Herb Day since becoming a Bee City, and I'd like to encourage our residents to plant herbs to support bees and pollinator communities everywhere."

A variety of vendors, both new and returning, will sell herb-based products.

Event organizers also are excited about a new children's area at the Ohio Herb Education Center.

Families are invited to participate in a pollination scavenger hunt, plant a garden in a sensory-garden bin and make loop bird feeders.

Franklin County Master Gardeners volunteers will return this year to answer questions, ranging from what herbs to buy for a beginning gardener to more advanced gardening questions.

The herb sale will include 4,000 plants and more than 100 varieties of herbs, including classic favorites of rosemary and basil.

Once herbs are purchased, visitors are encouraged to "park" them in the plant parking lot located in the backyard of the education center.

This is a monitored area to keep herbs safe, so visitors can enjoy all Herb Day has to offer without carrying their new herbs around or letting them wilt in a hot car.

The 2018 Herb Society of America's Herb of the Year is hops (Humulus lupulus), according to Sackenheim.

The hops plant is a fast-growing vine which can grow more than 15 to 30 feet tall in one season and can thrive in Ohio.

The female flower, also called a cone or strobile, of the hops plant is used to make beer and is responsible for the bitter flavor.

Sackenheim said hops historically has been cultivated to treat anxiety, restlessness and insomnia.

Pillows filled with a combination of hops and other sedative herbs have been used to help promote sleep.

Herb Day 2018 has a variety of speakers with years of varied experience and expertise. They will present on the Rotary Stage, near Local Cantina at Creekside Plaza.

More details are available at gahanna.gov/celebrateherbs.

Herb Day has become the unofficial kickoff to summer, and a variety of events are held in conjunction with it.

Residents can kick off Herb Week with the Herb n' Arts Fair from noon to 6 p.m. May 5 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Park by the Gahanna Pool, 148 Parkland Drive, presented by Gahanna Lincoln High School's community-art class students.

Herb n' Restaurant Week will be held May 6-12 at select Gahanna restaurants, presented by Visit Gahanna.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla