Discovering the Herb Garden
By Director of Gardens Perry Mathewes
I think so many people like the Glen Burnie Gardens for their quirkiness. The gardens were not designed by a professional landscape architect with careful, thought out spaces. Instead, they evolved over time from the personal passions and whims of MSV benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr. and his partner Lee Taylor in the course of 30+ years. As major spaces were developed (think Grand Allée, Knot Garden, Pink Pavilion, Vegetable Garden, etc.), smaller gardens were created in the gaps between them. One such place is the Herb Garden.
Located on the south side of the Carriage House, the Herb Garden is tucked between the Knot Garden, the Grand Allée and the Vegetable Garden. This small postage stamp of a space features a narrow brick path twining its way around a central dial and past two obelisks at either end. Various herbs sprawl across the brick walks, encouraging visitors to brush up against a variety of aromatic foliage and flowers. Yes, as you walk past this little garden, you can take in the view in one quick glance, but to experience it, you need to step in.
Right now, the German chamomile is blooming riotously. The profusion of flowers seem to contradict the traditional notion of its use to lower nervous excitability in an individual. Nearby, only a few purple flowers remain on the large sprawling comfrey plants. The foliage will dominate the space for weeks to come, however. Also called knitbone, comfrey was once used to help heal broken bones and reduce swelling or inflammation of other wounds. Here, it provides a structural element to the space.
Peeking out near the back are the small purple drumsticks of chives. Most people know that the leaves are a tasty ingredient in many dishes, but did you know the flowers are edible, too? Talk about a flavorful and colorful addition to your salad! On the other side of the garden, near the main walk, St. John’s wort is starting to bloom. Historically used as an antidepressant, I find that the bright yellow flowers alone are enough to cheer me up.
There are so many more herbs to discover here that I do hope you will stop by for a visit. Just being in the company of many of these plants is therapy enough for many people. I wonder if it will work for you. Now you can check out the Herb Garden in the evenings. Thanks to sponsor Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc. the MSV is open for free from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each Wednesday now through August 31.
Photos by Perry Mathewes