This favorite of the over 400 varieties of mint is grown and used both commercially and by gardeners. It is easily grown in zones 3 to 11 in sun or partial shade. Its fragrance is as pungent as its flavor and both are readily recognized. No wonder it is a favorite flavor for candies and desserts. Since many dessert recipes call for an extract - try making your own peppermint extract to keep and use in your baking or to give as a gift. While fresh works best for the extract, dried can be used. These grain free chocolate peppermint cookies will be a tasty addition to your holiday baking. Peppermint also helps stimulate digestion and alleviate headaches, so makes a terrific tea! It is not only good inside our bodies but can be used in home remedies and body care. As a key ingredient in this amazing whipped body butter, it makes for a tingly soothing foot rub. It has been given as a gift from Erin many times and it's been very well received.
This “fir needle” bush has a strong fragrance and grows wild on the coasts of the Mediterranean. So it prefers well drained soil, a mild climate with sun and humidity. It is somewhat tender so can be done in by the freezing temperatures, especially in higher elevations, that we have in the winter months. It will do fine in a container that can brought in doors or at least in close to the house. It has a long history of multiple uses and was used by the Greeks and Romans as a culinary herb. This delicious herb with a rather strong taste enhances the taste of roasts, soups and stews. It also helps to reduce headaches. Known as the herb of remembrance, it has many cosmetic uses you can remember friends and family with this holiday. Make this amazing rosemary mint shave cream, it was well received by family as a gift in past years. Body scrubs are easy to make gifts that many appreciate. Finally, rosemary is a delicious savory addition to main dishes such as this roasted chicken or a fluffy cake, which would make a great potluck dish!
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
This small mounded shrub with the tiny leaves is known as the herb of courage - appropriate as it is highly anti-bacterial. Infuse it in honey for your winter tea in time for cold and flu season. It also makes a great addition to fire cider a classic winter tonic to ease cold and flu symptoms. In the kitchen, it makes a great addition to vegetable dishes of all kinds, such as these roasted carrots. It is considered to have a powerful flavor so it is added lightly as you’ll see in recipes. It's antiseptic and disinfectant properties make it also great in cleaning around the home, such as in this lemon thyme disinfecting spray. There are a great many varieties of thyme, some of them creeping which are used decoratively. Their small size and easy care make them good candidates for containers.
Another woody perennial with multiple uses, sage is well known in the kitchen. The herb often associated with holiday turkey and stuffing is good in poultry and dressings and in herbal salt rubs, which are great for cooking meats and veggies. It as an effective treatment for sore throats and colds in teas, honey to add to teas which are used regularly in our households. Sage could also be used in candied throat drops. The herb of immortality, it provides great support as a general anti-inflammatory. If you are looking for something a little different for the bread basket this holiday, try these pumpkin sage biscuits. Finally, sage makes an appearance in these great boot fresheners, which were a gift for one of our favorite outdoor guys. We used brand new socks along with our garden grown herbs - simple and practical, our favorite kind of herbal gift!
Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
The light purple hue of the tiny petals of the flowers of this woody shrub are instantly associated with an easily identified color that is its’ name. Its delicate fragrance is also readily recognized. Known as a great stress reducer , it is a favorite aroma in gifts such as these mini lavender bath melts or rose, lavender & oatmeal bath bombs. Known as the herb of purity, it can be used in a wide variety of goodies for cleaning including this scouring powder or lavender dryer sachets. Typically associated with its fragrance, it has some uses in the kitchen. Found in Herbes de Provence, a signature French herb blend which goes well with winter veggies especially winter squash and poultry. It is also delicious in desserts like shortbread.