The herbs have it

The 23rd annual Asheville Herb Festival will take place at the W.N.C. Farmers Market Friday-Sunday, May 4-6, bringing together the largest annual gathering of herb enthusiasts in the Southeast. The long-running festival attracts more than 25,000 herb lovers and more than sixty professional growers and retailers to Asheville each spring.

May is the ideal time to set out most herbs, and the festival features such traditional and familiar herbs as basil, tarragon, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary and lavender. In addition, there are new varieties crossbred for flavor, size, and pest resistance, as well as herbal soaps, lotions and medicinal products, gardening books, herb-friendly pots and containers, and rain-barrels to conserve water. And the Master Gardeners will staff a booth and be available to answer questions.

Most familiar herbs have a Mediterranean origin, so they’ve evolved to thrive in rocky soils, hot sun — even drought conditions. Most are are versatile and low-maintenance, thriving in a spare corner of a yard, a raised bed or containers on a sunny deck.

“A lot of herbs are perennials,” notes Festival founder Rick Morgan. “Once they’re established, even after a year, perennials use less water than annuals.” Both for home gardeners and professionals, that makes herbs an attractive addition to any landscape design.

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