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Parsley, Eryngium and the American Horticultural Society

 

Eryngium ‘Blue Sapphire’

One of the benefits of membership in the American Horticultural Society is the arrival of The American Gardener every other month. This month the cover photo was of an Eryngium or sea holly, and the amazing news that this is a relative of parsley. This isn’t exactly one of  the weird and wonderful facts I love to collect, but I certainly found it unexpected. The delightful and informative article by Barbara Perry Lawton catalogs a number of other umbelliferae. like angelica which can grow to 8 feet with lime green domed umbles, sweet cicely, an anise flavored herb  which prefers some shade, unlike most herbs, astrantia, and golden Alexanders

After admiring the sea hollies on the Bridge of Flowers for a couple of years I added the striking ‘Blue Sapphire’ to my garden this year and I love it. I had never thought of it as an umbelliferae, but the center of this flower is an umbel. “The characteristic inflorescence shared by family members is called an umbel. . .  umbels are composed of multiple florets that fadiate from a single spot at the end of a main stem, giving the inflorescence an umbrella like appearance.”  Queen Anne’s lace is another perfect and familiar example of this family.

In the article Lawton, author of Parsleys, Fennels and Queen Anne’s Lace, published by Timber Press, tells the story of the notable British gardener Miss Ellen Willmott (1858-1934) who was known for the magnificent gardens at Warley Place.  Miss Willmott loved the Eryngium giganteum so much that she took to dropping seeds of this plant in other gardens when she visited. Soon people were calling it Miss Willmott’s ghost.  I always enjoyed the idea of Miss Willmott surreptitiously spreading this plant she loved so much. Because of her gardens she won many awards, and had several plants named in her honor. I own a white Miss Willmott lilac. Alas, she spent her whole great fortune on her gardens and became more and more eccentric.  By the time of her death was living in only three rooms of her great home.

Horseradish

Franklin County Community Development Corporation

There are often news stories in our local press about the business incubator at the Franklin County Community Development Corporation located in Greenfield. Last Friday I had my first opportunity to visit and see some of the work that goes on there.

John Waite

John Waite, the Executive Director of the FCCDC, welcomed me and members of the Herb Society of America to the commercial kitchens of the CDC and introduced us to some of the people who use this important facility which has helped fledgling businesses reach a point where they can fly off to their own spaces. I can’t fit all that we saw in one posting, but I am going to take you on a weeklong tour of what what I saw and learned last Friday.

Fresh horseradish roots

Terry Grinnan of Saw Mill Site Farm uses the commercial kitchen a few times a year to bottle his horseradish products. He buys most of hishigh quality horseradish roots from a Mennonite Farm in Illinois and processes and bottles them here. He gave us a demonstration of the whole process beginning with the fresh roots.

The roots are hand peeled and then washed to USDA specifications before putting into an amazing commercial kind of food processor.

It takes a sharp blade to cut up those roots. They get three minutes to do the job.

None of us were allowed to get too close when Terry Grinnan opened the machine to add some high grade vinegar for a little more processing. Even so, eyes and noses were watering.

After a couple more minutes of grinding, the horseradish was removed from the machine, all ready for adding final flavors like mustard or beets, and then bottling, and refrigeration.  Terry says it takes about four hours to process 1000 jars of his horseradish.

Saw Mill Site Farm Horseradish

Earlier this year I wrote about growing horseradish here, which is how I got to meet Terry and get invited to a wonderful day with Herb Society members.