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Gardens of The Herb Society of America

Western Reserve Unit

The Herb Garden of the Western Reserve Unit is located at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, part of Holden Forests & Gardens. The Herb Garden is open Tuesday - Sunday. Please visit the website for details.

Our garden is open to the public through admission to the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Our growing zone is 5-6, as the heart of University Circle is warmer than the surrounding area; much of the garden is on a sandy ridge.

The Herb Garden was designed by member Elsetta Gilchrist Bames, A.S.L.A., a practicing landscape architect in consultation with other members of the Unit. Stonework, pavers and over 3500 plants went into construction of in the garden during the spring and summer of 1969, and the garden was dedicated on September 5 of that year. Dr. Harry E. Ritchie kept a complete record of the construction of the garden with his camera. The collection of his slides, titled The Building of an Herb Garden is now the property of H.S.A.

Mrs. Bames provided the old millstones for the design. She also located the foundation stones from two old barns in Twinsburg. The stones were hauled from Twinsburg in a special tractor and lowered into place directly from the tractor. A sprinkling system was incorporated into the construction and the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company donated the lighting system. The cost of the construction of the garden was made possible by the establishment of the Garden Fund in 1968. The Chairman of the fund raised money from members, friends, garden clubs, family foundations and business foundations to supplement the amounts the Unit had raised through its activities. Other structures included in the garden are stone mounting blocks, a stone trough and an armillary mounted on an old upended roller stone. 

The formal design of the garden currently includes nine sections: Knot,Terrace, Trial and Cutting, Fragrance, Dye, Historic Roses, Culinary, Medicinal and Edible. The sections are arranged along brick and sandstone paved walkways with sandstone curbs. The walks follow a north/south and east/west orientation.
Knot: based on the design medieval formal garden, provides an intricate ribbon of gray and green plants winding around five millstones. The Knot is the centerpiece of the Garden
Terrace: a raised terrace gives the visitor an introduction and view of the formal part of the Herb Garden.
Trial and Cutting: This less formal space provides plant materials to be used in our Herb Fair products and draws gardeners to discover new practices and new plants for their own use. This section contains a collection of salvias and a collection of lavenders.
Fragrance: The plants in this section have been grown through the centuries for their pleasing aromas.
Dye: A collection of plants used historically for coloring fibers, cosmetics and foods comprise this section.
Culinary: The plants in this section are ones that have been used for ancient to modem times for the seasoning and flavoring of food.
Medicinal: Plants that have been traditionally used for their curative properties are grown here.
Edible: This section includes herbs and flowers that are used mostly for adding tlavor and interest to cooking and food presentations.
Historic Roses: A collection of antique roses is featured on each side of the walk at the western edge of the garden. In 2012 this Historic Rose collection was designated by the Herb Society of America as a Registered Collection of Historic Roses.

The WRHS Herb Garden is maintained by members who volunteer in the Garden Tuesdays and Thursdays from the beginning of April until the end of October. Volunteer hours usually total about 2000 each season. We pay the Botanical Garden for the assistance of one of their horticulturists on our workdays. We support the Garden with funds raised at our annual Herb Fair held each year on the second Saturday October.

Some of our products are also sold in the CBG gilt shop year round.

We have held various educational sessions in the garden, both for our members and the general public during our Herb Fair. We have participated with CBG, providing guided tours both during their events and during our Herb Fairs.

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