Urban herbs

Cleveland Botanical Garden hosts annual Herb Fair

Maria Fazal, Staff Reporter

A visit to the Cleveland Botanical Garden typically entails several elements, including breathtaking fountains, vivacious florae and intricate sculptures. Despite its location in the notoriously gray and dreary-weathered Cleveland, the garden somehow manages to wrap itself in an idyllic ambiance.

Long known for its eclectic nature, the garden is continually changing and renewing its assemblage. Indeed, each visit to the Cleveland Botanical Garden seems to divulge a previously hidden gem. The garden is once again honoring this tradition with its annual Western Reserve Herb Society’s herb fair.

This will mark the 69th year of the fair’s existence. However, according to members of the Western Reserve Herb Society, this year’s fair will be unlike any other. In fact, this year’s fair will be so unique that has been given a new name altogether: “Herban Garden Market.”

To go along with its punny name, the fair will offer products to Cleveland’s shoppers. The members of the Western Reserve Herb Society don’t just line their kitchen windowsills with herbs. Rather, they’ve found fascinating and exciting uses for them.

For example, one particularly interesting craft – and big seller – is called a “soup wreath,” which is literally an herb wreath that is made to be tossed into a pot of soup. The wreaths can double as ingredients and decorations.

The herbs offered at the fair also go beyond the traditional green bundles. The fair is selling colorful, radiant wreaths and decorative arrangements for the home. There will also be unique treats, including savory hibiscus salads and candied violets.

“Our herb fair products are one of a kind and handmade in the U.S. from our own gardens. What could be better? Learn more about herbs from us and share our passion,” Western Reserve Herb Society member Kathleen Gips said.

Other than the market-aspect, the fair is also offering a learning experience. The Artemisia is the International Herb Association’s “Herb of the Year,” and the Western Reserve Herb Society will be educating visitors on this herb, guiding guests on a tour to view the herb in person and show how the herb is used in bouquets, potpourri and wreaths.

Artemisia is an herb surrounded as much by folklore and magic as science. While the early Chinese believed the plant to have charm-like qualities, various species of Artemisia are now used to make mint tea, wine and the most rapid-action drug to treat malaria.

The fair will also feature guest speakers Will Lynch of Lynch Floral Designs, Beth Schreibman Gehring of Stirring the Senses and Olympic Ski Team Chef, Robin Blair. They will be dishing out advice on entertaining and decorating for the holidays.

The proceeds from the fair will go to funding the Western Reserve Herb Society scholarships to students and to maintaining their herb garden located in the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

The herb fair will take place at the Cleveland Botanical Garden on Saturday, Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Admission to the fair is free with admission to the Botanical Garden. Admission for adults is $6, and tickets for Case Western Reserve Students are free.