DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE STAFF
BURNET — With gardening and cooking books to her credit, people might think noted author and speaker Judy Barrett grew up with herbs on her mind. But the longtime garden writer admitted it was starting her own business that turned her on to this versatile group of plants.
“It wasn’t until I had a small nursery of my own several years ago that I realized what amazing plants herbs are,” she said. “Defined as plants that are not just ornamental or for food, herbs are the most versatile, most interesting and easiest plants (to grow) in the world.”
If she sounds excited about herbs, she is. And Barrett will share her enthusiasm for herbs during the 17th annual Hill Country Lawn and Garden Show from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 28 at the Burnet Community Center, 401 E. Jackson St. Admission is free.
The show highlights all things lawn and garden. Organizers are anticipating more than 20 vendor, business and organization booths at which people can see the latest gardening gadgets, buy a variety of garden plants and get their hands dirty. Attendees can ask questions of vendors and other garden experts, including members of the Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association, which organizes the event.
Plus, the Highland Lakes group has lined up several demonstrations and discussions.
Barrett’s topic, if you haven’t guessed, will be herbs.
“They are beautiful, fragrant, tasty and useful in many ways,” she said. “People have been using herbs as medicine for centuries, long before they were used to flavor food.”
Along with their food and medicinal uses, herbs are great for landscaping because they tend to be bug resistant and make good companion plants. This means that, by planting them near other species (usually certain ones pair with other types of plants), they benefit each other. Barrett added that herbs also are used in crafts, cosmetics and even cleaning solutions.
“You find that herbs can do almost anything,” she said. Well, accept maybe write books about herbs and gardening, which is something at which Barrett is very adept. Along with talking herbs, Barrett will have copies of her books on sale at the show as well as some mullein plants (a less widely known herb) and some antique roses.
Beyond authoring books about gardening and cooking, Barrett is the founder and editor of HOMEGROWN: Good Sense Organic Garden, which was a published magazine for 12 years but is now available online. She also served as the editor of The New Garden Journal as well as was a host for the public television series, “The New Garden.” She also blogs about gardening at www.homegrowntexas.com.
Val Klaudt of the Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association said Barrett is one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to herbs and gardening in general.
But this isn’t the herb show. Along with Barrett’s topic, attendees can enjoy several other demonstrations. Retired Burnet County AgriLife Extension agent Wade Hibler will talk fruit trees for Central Texas; Master Gardener Beth Mortenson will share insights and secrets of plant propagation and starting seeds indoors; and there will be a Tomatoes 101 demonstration as well.
After you grow all these fruits and vegetables this year, more than you can eat as you pluck them off the vine, what do you do with them all? Fortunately, Linda Wells of the Burnet County Extension office will lead a topic on canning and preserving. She’ll add a little fun with fruits and vegetables as well.
And the Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association will demonstrate ways of drying and arranging flowers.
Whether you come for one of the demonstrations or to purchase plants for the garden, Klaudt said the show will be among the biggest in 17 years. And if you find yourself with a armful of purchases with booths still to check out, head for the back of the community center, where you’ll find Master Gardeners and other volunteers who will watch over your treasures while you go in search of more.
And don’t forget to bring your kids, because the Master Gardeners will have a children’s booth full of fun and educational activities.
Go to www.burnetcountyhighlandlakesmastergardener.org for more information.