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Author has tips for growing herbs in a tiny basket or a giant garden.

Byline: Randi Bjornstad The Register-Guard

Sorting out what to plant when, where and for what purpose can be daunting enough to paralyze the novice herb gardener from even getting started, but help can be found in a variety of books, including "The Northwest Herb Lover's Handbook," written by Washington author Mary Preus and published by Sasquatch Books in Seattle.

"The Northwest has a fabulous climate for herbs, but it's important to remember that not all of them do well under the same conditions," Preus said. "They need to be planted in the right place, but it doesn't really take that much effort or space to be successful."

She recommends "starting with 20 basic herbs and then going from there," and her book includes a dozen sample gardens, depending on how much room the gardener has and whether the herbs will be grown "for seasonings, fragrance, beauty in the garden, medicine or a combination of uses."

For example, an "herb garden in a basket" can be as simple as putting together two basil and two trailing nasturtium plants plus one each of chive, marjoram, parsley and thyme, in a space as small as 1 foot square and 4 inches deep, Preus writes.

At the other end of the spectrum, she describes a 20-foot-by-5-foot border full of medicinal herbs, including angelica, calendula, catnip, chamomile, echinacea, elder, fennel, feverfew, garlic, hop, lemon balm, parsley, roses, rosemary, sage, thyme and valerian.

Some of Preus's other plans include a planter full of edible flowers, an Italian herb collection and an "herbal beverage garden."

"I thought when I wrote the book that I wanted it to be everything people need to get started with herb gardening," she said.

Preus got her herb-growing experience during her 20-year stint as owner of the Silver Bay Herb Farm in Bremerton, Wash.

She moved to Seattle several years ago, where she now works as senior gardener for the city, in charge of horticulture for 45 city parks.

"I have a garden at my home - it's a big, sunny space filled with my favorite herbs - that's very urban and very different from what I had before," Preus said. "But it shows me that it doesn't take a lot of space and time to have all the herbs at hand that make a real difference in cooking and everyday life."

- Randi Bjornstad
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Title Annotation:Oregon Life
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 27, 2008
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