Variety of herb gardens
open for free visits

WHITESTOWN — Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County, Master Gardener Volunteers welcome you to view the Extension’s Parker F. Scripture Botanical Gardens from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.

The demonstration gardens are located behind the Farm & Home Center at 121 Second St. off Judd Road (County highway 840) east of Airport Road.

Master Gardeners noted that the Extension Gardens feature a variety of Herb Garden Beds. One of the beds features basil and oregano. The basil (Ocimum basilicum) herb is a native plant of Africa and Asia. Basils prefer a warm sunny location that is protected from the wind, frost and scorching, midday sun. It grows best in well-drained soil that is moist. This plant also can be grown indoors or outdoors in containers.

To harvest basil for use in flavoring culinary dishes, pick the leaves when young. The leaves can be preserved by freezing them; painting both sides with olive oil or they can be dried.

Basil can be added to many Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Italian, and Indian dishes including salads and vinegars. There are several different varieties of basil that can be found in local markets and/or seed catalogs: Sweet Genovese, Pistou, Lime, Cardinal, Mammoth, and Dark Opal to name a few.

Oregano (Origanum) herb is also known as wild marjoram. It is a native herb plant of Greece. Oregano grows best in full sun located in well-drained soil. It prefers a nutrient rich soil that is on the dry side and has a high pH which is alkaline. Oregano produces a strong culinary flavor when grown in rich soils.

Oregano should be harvested when the leaves are young. Freeze or dry leaves to preserve; be sure to harvest leaves just before the flowers open. Oregano can be used to add flavor to salads, pizza, meat and fish dishes and butter sauces.

Other herb garden beds that are featured at the Extension’s gardens include: thyme, colonial, medicinal, edible flowers, pest repellant, scented geraniums, rosemary, native, sage and hummingbird and butterfly.

At the Parker F. Scripture Gardens there is also a screened butterfly house filled with flowers that attract monarch butterflies. Monarch caterpillars have been munching on milkweed and many have spun chrysalis which will be hatching soon.

A nature trail is adjacent to the gardens.

If you would like more information, contact Holly at the Extension Office 736-3394 x 125.