By Martha Zink for The Island Connection
In February the Kiawah Island Garden Club took an informative outing to Sea Islands Savory Herbs. The garden began as a chicken farm in the 1980s, planted by the farmer’s wife who liked to cook with herbs. It was expanded by their son and is still a working farm, where everything is grown from cultivars.
It is now owned by Ella Cowen and Danielle Spies and Cowen led a tour through the greenhouses, both sunny and shady, and other areas such as a “reading room” with gardening books and a children’s area with miniature furniture and gardening tools. There is an impressive collection of various types of parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender and other popular herbs.
Cowen talked about how it is possible to replace flowers, which deer love to eat with herbs, which they don’t. Santolina is deer resistant, drought tolerant, and has a pungent odor which, in the past, people put under rugs to deter pests.
Fennel has bronze foliage in late summer, which butterflies eat but then it reblooms. African blue basil has beautiful blue flowers. Neem is good for preventing fungus. Sage (salvia) is even delicious fried and tastes like bacon. Lemongrass can be planted around a garden plot to keep deer out. To harvest you pull it up, use the bottom, push the top back into the soil and it regrows.
In the propagation house Cowen explained how cuttings are rooted: mint cuttings are dipped in Root Tone before being pushed into a tray of soil and kept moist. A cutting must be not too woody or too soft so thyme is harder to propagate. In the shade house Cowen and Spies grow ivy violet, wire anise and daphne.
Near the herb gardens are spectacular, large old azalea shrubs and camellias, planted by the past owners of the property and a walk amongst them was a perfect ending to a lovely day.