While 2020 has been a very difficult year for all of us, the Chesapeake Bay Herb Society (CBHS) herb garden at Pickering Creek Audubon Center provides a ray of hope for all. The center is open to the public daily and the garden is thriving.
CBHS was formed in 2002 by Lou Russell to share the love, knowledge and uses of herbs with the local community. Although not currently meeting in person since February due to COVID-19, members will again meet monthly, host an herb-themed dinner and an educational program when it is socially safe. Currently with 70 members, the group keeps up to date with a monthly newsletter with lots of information, tips, recipes, and links to relevant articles. Planned 2020 speakers have been very generous with offering online videos to the members.
And the garden lives on. The Horticulture Committee members, led by Spencer Garrett, were not able to start in early April as usual, but were able to start cleanup and planting on May 14. Since then, a few members have been working on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons to fill in the beds, weed, trim and water. It’s truly a labor of love.
The herb garden consists of 15 beds set in a maze pattern, with pea gravel paths. Until this year, the beds had specific themes, with signs for Tea, Scent, Dye, Bee and Butterfly, Remedy, Remembrance, Basil, Pizza, Shade and Lemon. But adjusting to the COVID-19 restrictions on numbers meeting together and limitations on available herbs in catalogs and elsewhere, this year is more of a potpourri. Members were asked to bring what seeds and transplants that they could and plant where there was space. Some herbs were purchased at local nurseries, too. There are over 100 varieties of herbs, each adding to the freshness and beauty of the garden.
There is also an analemmatic sundial next to the garden that was designed and installed in 2015 by Spencer and other members. Various thyme varieties are planted in the corners formed by the ellipse. Children especially enjoy using their bodies as the gnomon to cast the shadow on the marked stones.
Make a plan to visit the garden. The experts agree that getting outside is beneficial to our mental health, and the beauty and fragrance of the herbs will be a tonic to the soul. The Audubon Center is in northern Talbot County, located at 11450 Audubon Lane, off Sharp Road, in Easton. For more information about CBHS, contact President Marie Davis at 302-354-3612.