Plants, pots, baskets or bags – make it an herbal celebration.
by M.L. Harrison
Because Mother’s Day always falls during the beautiful, fertile time of spring when we can cultivate our gardens, herbs make a perfect gift. Even if your mother is not a gardener, there are sure to be a presents of herbal products just right for her.
Consider first what herbs your mother’s garden already has and try to find something new to add. Understand what the plant needs to mature and make sure whatever you give her, she has room for. A perennial herb like sage, thyme, lavender or even rose will be used and admired for years to come. Mom will think of you every time she is near it.
Herbs do not usually require a lot of maintenance. If your mother does not have a patch of earth she tends, give her potted herbs for the deck or windowsill. You or your nursery can create a planter in an attractive pot. The sidebar shows possible combinations with a theme.
If fresh, potted herbs are not quite your mom’s thing, buy new herbs and spices to replace the old, expired containers in her cupboard. Include some she might not buy for herself like a vanilla bean, saffron, Hungarian paprika, colorful peppercorns or a selection of curries. Many such collections are available, beautifully packaged from a gourmet kitchen store.
Teas always make a nice gift that mom can use year-round. Gourmet tea shops like the Tea Grotto in Sugar House have unique blends to choose from and a staff to educate you on the possibilities so you can be sure to pick what she likes. Their quality is superb! Going the less expensive route, regular grocery and health food stores now carry a wide selection of various teas in boxes or tins of 20 bags ready for easy use. Try fruit flavored blends, Rooibos tea (an antioxidant) or the now popular white tea.
For the home and bath
There are endless selections here. Try fragranced potpourri, dried herb arrangements, wreaths for doors and walls, essential oils and diffusers or stainless steel strainers for teas, graters for nutmeg (with a jar of whole nutmegs) and citrus and garlic peelers and presses. These are the little things that one never seems to have when needed.
For the bath, handmade soaps that contain herbs and the fragrance of only pure essential oils feel luxurious. Soaps from European countries can be interesting — olive oil bars from Italy, lavender from France. Naturally scented soy candles do not release toxic smoke or unpleasant paraffin smell. Herbal body and salt scrubs, loofa sponges and moisturizing herb-scented oils are good choices. Inexpensive, small muslin drawstring bags can be purchased from the health food store, to fill with loose herbs like lavender, lemongrass and mint and toss into the bath to fragrance the steam.
For health, make a gift basket which includes the most useful preparations like echinacea and St. Johnswort tinctures, arnica salve for sore muscles, calendula oil to nourish the skin, an herb book and a gift certificate for an herb class or a consultation with an herbal practitioner.
Books on every conceivable herbal topic are available and some very pretty ones are tied with a satin ribbon or fragranced.
Moms sometimes need help (and always like company), so offer to plant the garden herbs you give her or clean out the spice cabinet with her. You may be surprised at the memories and chuckles that come when you find antique containers and long-expired bottles. When you are done, cook a meal together, or better yet, cook one for her with the new spices you brought using a recipe from the new herb cookbook you gave her. Afterwards enjoy a cup of tea together. Let herbs help create a memorable Mother’s Day you both can enjoy.
Herb combinations for the garden and pots
Basic: Chives, parsley, oregano and mint
Meditterranean: Sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano and lavender
Italian: Basil, thyme, oregan and garlic
Basil or mint pot: Select a variety of types for interesting flavors and colors for eye appeal.
Attractive single herb: Bay or Kaffir lime tree
Merry Lycett Harrison, RH (AHG) is a clinical herbalist and owner of Millcreek Herbs, www.millcreekherbs.com.