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Garden Lifestyle

On the Road: American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas

This spring has been busy with a road trip from Arkansas to Texas and back--we saw miles and miles of Texas!

  • Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) in full bloom in the ABC gardens. They sure are pretty and smell good too! Unfortunately most of us can't grow them since they prefer the soil and climate conditions of Texas. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • The ABC in Austin, Texas is the home of HerbalGram, The Journal of the American Botanical Council. 
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Gayle Engels is the Special Projects Director at the American Botanical Council as well as an herbalgalpal and gardener; we love to get together with her to create programs and visit gardens.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Calendulas, often called pot marigolds, are an early season cool-weather crop in Texas since they do not like hot summer weather.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • The Tea Garden is just popping with herbal harbingers like peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm and chamomile.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Most of the gardens are watered with drip irrigation so gardeners don't have to drag hoses through the gardens. Summers get really hot in Texas so plants need to be watered. ABC has large water tanks that collect rainwater.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • The French Culinary Garden has a bay tree, rouquette (arugula), thyme, flat-leaved parsley, shallots, chervil and sorrrel. The latter herb is used by the French as a spring tonic in soups and sauces.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Chervil thrives in cool weather and fades as soon as the heat of summer arrives. Enjoy this French favorite, which tastes of tarragon and parsley, in salads, soups and sauces. It is one of the four herbs in the garnish blend Fine Herbes along with tarragon, parsley and chives.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Love this trellis at the entrance of one of the newer beds which features the Chinese Medicinal Herb Garden.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Once you plant 'Magenta Spreen' lambs' quarters, it will volunteer in your garden forevermore. This is one of my favorite naturalized wild edible weeds. We ate it salad and salsa verde in Texas.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • There are many herbal shrubs and trees in the gardens at ABC. This is a golden bay (Laurus nobilis 'Aurea'), which is quite showy with bright yellow-gold new growth. It is one of most handsome specimens that I have seen.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • The Texas mountain laurel is as fragrant as it is showy. The large purple blooms smell like grape kool-aid.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

This spring has been busy with a road trip from Arkansas to Texas and back–we saw miles and miles of Texas! We started  with a program on ‘Shrubs, Switchel and Beveridge: The Art of Creating Fruited Vinegars’  at the ABC. Check out the gardens at the American Botanical Council–a good reason to go visit–or become a member, volunteer or attend an herbal program! https://abc.herbalgram.org/site/PageServer?pagename=About_Us

It is springtime in Austin–and the gardens at ABC are in full swing. Some of the spring harbinger herbs like the mints and lemon balm were just popping, while parsley, fennel, chervil, arugula, sorrel and cilantro were already big enough to make a first harvest. Many flowers were blooming from calendulas and johnny-jump-ups to poppies and the state flower, Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis). They were putting on a show in the ABC gardens–one of the best displays we saw in the lonestar state.

The Amercian Botanical Council, home of HerbalGram, was founded by Mark Blumenthal in 1988 and he is Executive Director. They offer many educational programs there as well as other herb-related services. ABC is located in a big old rambling house with wrap-around porches. There is an annex building for classes and meetings, with a library and then there is the greenhouse full of seedlings and tropical plants waiting to be moved outdoors. The gardens pretty much surround the buildings. Gayle Engels is Special Events Director there, she is a colleague as well as an herbal cohort of ours. We especially enjoy gardening and creating herbal happenings together.

The gardens at the ABC have expanded over the years and are a worthwhile place to go visit. Here are just a few of the garden plots to see: Antioxidant, Children’s, Culinary, First Aid, Fragrance, Human Systems, Phytocosmetic, Reproductive, Rose, Southwest Pollinator, Tropical, Vegetable and Wildlife. For more info on the gardens read:  https://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue83/article3417.html Both the Culinary and Medicinal gardens include beds from around the globe from French and Asian cuisines to Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal plants. There’s a vegetable garden with organically grown heirlooms and a greenhouse where they start all sorts of medicinal seedlings.

The folks at the American Botanical Council are passionate about helping people live healthier lives through the responsible use of herbs, medicinal plants. They are an independent, nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to providing accurate and reliable information for consumers, healthcare practitioners, researchers, educators, industry and the media. The next big event will be to celebrate HerbDay, May 2, 2015. https://abc.herbalgram.org/site/Calendar/1522551145?view=Detail&id=117201


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