Herb Garden

Herb Garden at Boerner Botanical Gardens   "There's rosemary,
that's for remembrance;
pray, love remember;
And there is pansies,
that's for thoughts ....

Hamlet, Act IV, by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

ucked away in a picturesque corner of the formal gardens, and surrounded by a tall hedge, this garden has an air of seclusion akin to that of an old monastery garden.

Herbs (which, may be pronounce with or without the "h") are plants whose stems, roots, leaves, flowers or fruits (seeds or seed pods) have medicinal, culinary, dye and scent uses. This very utilitarian type of plant had no official home in the original design of the Gardens. This situation was rectified in 1955.

The motivating force behind the Herb Garden was the Wisconsin State Pharmaceutical Society, which was interested in medicinal herbs. This organization was also responsible for the first donation of herb seed. The seed was propagated at the Horticulture Division's Greenhouse Center, which also provides the annuals, biennials and winter-tender plants for the gardens.

Today there are twelve herb beds containing over 300 varieties of herbs and approximately 7000 plants. Plants are labeled with the common name, botanical name and often with the foreign name (e.g., German, Polish or Italian) along with a listing of uses. There is even a bed for herbs native to America. Early Native Americans learned which herbs could be safely used for medicines, dyes, and religious ceremonies through trial and error. These same delightful, aromatic and interesting plants await your discovery in the Herb Garden.

Because many of the herbs in the garden are annuals or tender perennials, each year new plants must be started. Walk through this garden in June and see geometric plantings of basil, thyme, Santolina, and parsley. The early plantings may highlight sharp "knot" designs, or triangles or squares. Return later in the season to find that the full potential of the plants has been realized -- the designs will be rich and full and the aromas within the garden almost overpowering.

Throughout the year, the Herb Garden is watched over by a statue of Saint Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners. Saint Fiacre, an Irish monk, is depicted with a spade in one hand and a flowering branch in the other.

  St. Fiacre

Inspect the "salad bowl", which started as a victory garden during World War II. Most garden visitors will recognize all or almost all of the plants in this bed, including lettuce, chives, eggplant, kale, cabbage, celery, Parsley and swiss chard.

Boerner Botanical Gardens is pleased to have the generous involvement and support of The Herb Society of America's Wisconsin Unit. With this link you will leave the Milwaukee County Parks site. The Herb Society site will appear in a new browser window. To return to this page, simply close the DNR window.

As you leave the Herb Garden heading east toward the Daylily Walk and the Shrub Mall, you will pass through two rows of yew hedge. The hedges are original plantings from the 1930s. Look south from that point and see rolling hills meeting majestic trees. After admiring this peaceful and pastoral view, continue your walk with a stroll down the daylily path. Go to the next garden

Boerner Botanical Gardens
9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners, WI 53130
(414) 525-5600

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