Whether you are an experienced gardener or just starting out, the Pennsylvania Herb and Garden Festival has something for you, said Susan Eggleston, president of the festival committee and owner of Sweet Annie Herbals.
"The festival is a way for novice and experienced gardeners to get some new ideas," she said.
The event, which takes place April 11 and 12 at the York Expo Center, includes a full schedule of free lectures with topics ranging from native spring flora and using herbs medicinally to edible wildflowers, as well as programs about growing and using artemisia, the 2014 herb of the year.
Denise Eckard, a member of the Herb and Garden Festival committee, first got interested in herbs after reading a book about them.
The book was divided into the months of the year and each section featured different things you could do with herbs, including their uses in foods and medicines and cleaning and crafts, she said.
There was also information on growing and caring for herbs, and Eckard was hooked, she said.
Eckard is also a Master Gardener and enjoys the opportunity to share her love of herbs with others who have an interest in growing them.
Some people plant a whole garden of herbs; others plant them in various containers; Eckard says to plant them wherever you can.
"I don't have a separate herb garden. I don't have room for one, but I plant them with my vegetables and mix them in my flower gardens, and my advice would make use of the space you have for them," she said.
"They are easy to grow, and there is nothing nicer than the scent of fresh lavender or rosemary or other herb to add a pleasant smell to your house," she said.
The International Herb Association selects the herb of the year, Susan Eggleston said.
This year's choice, artemisia, or Asteraceae composite, is part of the daisy group. You might know it as wormwood, French tarragon, dusty miller, sweet Annie or mugwort, just a few of the 300 to 400 varieties of perennials, shrubs and plants in the family, Eggleston said.
The gray and green foliage enhances any flower or herb garden and is available in a variety of sizes.
Silver brocade grows about 6 inches tall, sweet Annie about a foot; Mugwort reaches 5 to 6 feet, and silver king spreads quickly.
"The only culinary artemisia is French tarragon, which has an anise-like flavor. Tarragon can be used for making vinegars and salad dressings. It is delicious with chicken, fish and many vegetables," Eggleston said.
"The other artemisias can be dried and used in crafting, such as sweet Annie for wreaths, arrangements, herbal sachets and potpourri. Many of the artemisias can offer beautiful foliage to your garden or flowerbed," she added.
These herbs are easy to plant and to care for. They like well-drained soil and lots of sunshine. Once established, they are drought-tolerant. They can be divided every 2 to 3 years, usually in early spring or early fall. You can purchase plants or sow seeds. Follow the directions that come with your plant for the best result.
For details on the International Herb Association, a professional trade association, visit www.iherb.org.
Go to the show
The 16th annual Pennsylvania Herb and Garden Festival will be noon to 7 p.m. April 11 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 12 at Memorial Hall at the York Expo Center, 334 Carlisle Ave., West Manchester Township. Admission is $5, free for children younger than 12. Registration is not required to attend, though there is a fee and registration requirement for certain workshops.
More than 80 vendors will be on hand with everything from plants, birdhouses and bird feeders to garden decorations, planting containers, and unique ideas for displaying your flowers and plants.
For details, see www.PAHerbandGardenFestival.com.
Friday, April 11
12:30 p.m.: Barb Steele, Alloway Creek Gardens and Herb Farm, will present the herb of the year
1:30 p.m.: Judy Bono, The Gardener of Owl Valley, miniature garden workshop
2 p.m.: Marina Schaum, Ohio Valley Herbal Products, "Herbs: The Magic Healers"
2:45 p.m.: Maryanne Schwartz, Lancaster County Soapworks Etc., and Tina Sams, Essential Herbal Magazine, cold-process herbal soapmaking workshop
3:45 p.m.: Dr. Brent Binder, "Herbalism from East to West"
4:15 p.m.: Susan Eggleston, Sweet Annie Herbals, herb garden planter box workshop or watering can workshop
5 p.m.: Susan Morris, Sue's Salves, "Planting by the Moon"
Saturday, April 12
9:30 a.m.: Barb Steele, herb of the year
10 a.m.: Susan Eggleston, Sweet Annie Herbals, herb garden planter box workshop or watering can workshop
10:45 a.m.: Lisa Sanchez, naturalist with Lancaster County Parks and Recreation, "Spring's Edible Plants"
Noon: Eileen F. Yeager, herbal artist and printmaker, "World of Herbs: Ethnic use of culinary herbs"
1:15 p.m.: Judy Bono, The Gardener of Owl Valley, "A Walk in the Woods: Our native spring flora"
2:30 p.m.: Joe Manotti, Your Garden Solution, "Square Foot Gardening"