Are you going to a friend's house? Take parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
The neighbors have invited you over for dinner tonight. Quick - you need a thoughtful, appropriate, reasonably priced, useful gift for the hostess.
Don't pick up that bottle of wine. Don't grab that bouquet of wilting carnations that is cello-wrapped by the grocery store checkout. Think herbs!
A gift of herbs can be used fresh in a favorite dish; they can be displayed in a vase as a beautifully scented centerpiece, or hung to dry for use in a future recipe.
A small chamomile plant or a mint plant is perfect for a tea lover. Basil for the pesto enthusiast. Oregano and parsley for the Italian connoisseur. A few twigs of lavender from the garden, tied with a simple ribbon, are a perfect offering for anyone.
Herbs have held symbolic meaning in many cultures. Through the centuries, a gift of basil signified love, bay signaled fame, dill meant good cheer and survival, and sage promoted immortality and wisdom. There are many ways to bestow herbs to a deserving recipient, to fit most budgets and gardening abilities.
First, there are fresh herbs from the garden. Snip a bouquet of lavender, sage, thyme and rosemary and present them as you would a floral bouquet. Keep the clippings in water prior to delivery to keep them fresh. Create a simple tag from a brown grocery bag describing the herb, or include a recipe that uses the herb.
If you're not a gardener, there are other ways to give herbs. Most local Kroger stores carry different versions of fresh herbs, and they can be put together like the ones from your garden. Select packaged herbs and either take them out of their plastic wrap for giving or tie a variety of them together in their packages.
A visit to a Charleston garden store, such as Green's, Valley Gardens or TerraSalis, will provide an abundance of choices for giving. Buy live plants in small pots and either give them as whole plants or snip from them and keep the plants for your own garden- a perfect source for future gifts. Place a few complimentary potted herbs in a basket or gift bag. Wrap an individual plant in colorful tissue tied with a ribbon or use the Sunday comics and a bit of twine.
There are several merchants at Capitol Market who sell unusual potted herbs, including Morris Greenhouse from Oak Hill. The folks at Morris have nice herb gardens with several types of plants in one container, at prices ranging from $10 to $20 each. Nice for a kitchen windowsill.
The meaning of herbs
For centuries, people have attached symbolic powers to many herbs. Here are some of the meanings associated with common herbs.