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Plants: Gardens: Chandler Herb Garden

When asked, "What is an herb?" King Charlemagne responded "A friend of physicians and the praise of cooks." This is an apt description for these useful plants, some of which have the power to heal or to transform mere food into cuisine. They also have a long history. In 1884, a medical scroll from Egypt dated at about 1550 B.C. was discovered that lists 800 medicinal drugs, with many herbs and spices: anise, coriander, fennel, cardamom, thyme, mustard, saffron, and poppy seeds are included. Remember that the next time you enjoy a good curry dish or a poppy-seed muffin!

Herbs are defined as plants without a permanent, woody stem that die down at the end of the growing season, so that includes many plants valued for their beauty and fragrances, like geraniums, violets, and lavender. The Greeks mentioned herbs in their writings, and mint, marjoram, thyme, rose, and hyacinth were some of their favorites for scented oils and perfumes. Scented geraniums Pelargonium sp. are an interesting aspect of the Chandler Herb Garden at the Safari Park, with surprising aromas found in the leaves rather than in the blossoms. Look for species with the scents of cedar, rose, apple, lime, nutmeg, or peppermint, among others. There are more than 30 varieties here, so prepare your nose to be delighted!

The Chandler Herb Garden is designed and tended by dedicated volunteers and whether you are an herbal novice or steeped in their lore, it's a fragrant habitat worth exploring. Don't let the fencing put you off: human browsers are welcome, but not the local deer and rabbits!