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When I was at Tulipwood last week, I took a trip to Gilberties Herb Farm with Grandma Pellegrini. She had been talking about this place for many months. Since early winter. She and my great-aunt used to go regularly she told me, they would get up early while it was still cool enough to be inside the greenhouse, and they’d be back in time to open the store (they owned a toy store with old fashioned children’s toys). This year she told me she needed lots of herbs for her kitchen garden she was planning.

I was actually in the middle of a book auction when we were supposed to go, and so I decided that I had to either stare at a computer and keep refreshing my email until I went bonkers or go to Gilberties Herb Farm. I went for the Herbs. I figured that’s what cell phones were for… taking calls in a greenhouse while choosing between pineapple mint and chocolate mint.

And anyway, there’s nothing like stopping to smell the rosemary to help you keep it real.

Gilberties is in Westport, Connecticut and is actually the largest herb plant grower in the country. It’s been around since 1922 and the same family is still growing about 400 varieties of herbs.

You could hold debates over which type of thyme to buy. We did debate actually… do we go for the creeping scarlet variety, the English variety, the French variety?

Then we got overwhelmed and just picked one that looked bushy.

I love scented geraniums. I love geraniums period, because they remind me of all the window boxes in Provence. But I especially love ones that smell like roses and lemon and all the other iterations.

If you ever plan on going to Gilberties herb farm, leave the walker at home. The walker does not like gravel. We learned this the hard way.

At some point, Grandma started walking the walker.

She knew the name of everything as soon as she saw it. My great-aunt, her sister, knew the name of everything on this earth. It was remarkable. I’ve never met anyone since then who is quite so familiar with plant life.

Of course I can’t remember what this is that she’s holding. Can you identify it?

This is the Sweet Woodruff that we made May Day wine with.

They had a whole table devoted to insect repelling plants. Rosemary was featured prominently.

She took a bit of a rest since it was so tiring walking her walker around, so I collected a few more things on her list while she went through one of the herb books she brought.

Angelica was one of the things we still had to add to the cart.

Then we found chocolate and pineapple mint…

Nusturtium… I love those flowers in a salad, I really do.

And a money plant, just because.

By the end of it our wagon consisted of: Thyme, Sorrel, Sweet Woodruff, Angelica, Pineapple Mint, Chocolate Mint, Oregano, Sage, Money Plant, Nusturtium, Dill… and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.

Grandma sat in the shade and inspected her list.

The list was divided into sun and filtered sun…

And this is the sketch of what the garden will look like.

Now she just needs someone to help her finish it… I think the plan is for next weekend. Hopefully she’ll have some more recipes to share once the herbs are flourishing.

Do you have a favorite herb?


  • BRubio
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    What is amarella?

  • Georgia
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Amarella is a bitter herb… which is about the extent of my knowledge since Grandma P. introduced me to it only a few days ago. Maybe she could enlighten us a bit…

  • Greg
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Basil is my favorite herb. It speaks of summer. I never knew my grandmothers. I'm glad I can vicariously enjoy your relationship with your grandma.

  • Amy
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    That looks like the best kind of day trip. And since both of my grandmother's passed away while I was a teen I have to say I'm a tad bit jealous. Indeed. My favorite herb? That's tough. Basil and cilantro certainly frequent my kitchen more than the others, but right now tarragon is up there on my list of favorites. Yummy with potatoes and chicken. I tried to grow it 2 yrs. ago and it bit the dust, so I'm starting it again this year, both from seed and plants. Hopefully between the two sources I'll have some to work with. Thanks for the virtual trip – wish we had a place like that around here.

  • Lara
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Georgia – I love everything about this post! The fantastic herb farm (I wish we had one close by), the beautiful day for shopping for herbs, Grandma Pelligrini's fashion sense (the dragonfly pin is wonderful!) and the plotting and planning for Grandma P's summer herb garden. If I lived closer, I'd volunteer to do the planting but since I don't, I'll just wish for bountiful herbs from the future garden! Thanks again for another lovely post!

  • Clayvessel
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    I hope that after I have spent a long life (if I get to have one) nurturing plants, that I too will know the names of them all.

  • Georgia
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    She always has a nice pin on, it's true. The dragonfly is from her toy store actually… people used to love to come to her store because they could find unique things that they couldn't find anywhere else, even for grown ups. She would always find a hole in the wall whole saler to buy merchandise from… so there was always a surprise at the store : ) It was called "Buttercup & Friends."

  • Jon D
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Nice Herb Farm Georgia.Herbs are the highlight of cooking during the summer.Nothing matches freshly picked and brought to the table for flavor or garnish.Easily planted in containers on the deck or patio.Epazote not really an herb but more like a weed is one of my favs.Mostly used cooking legumes. Once planted it reseeds readily next year. Basil is my favorite herb.Used the most and harvested for pesto in late summer.Thanks for sharing your fun trip.

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