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Marsha and Darryl Herren

Olive Forge Herb Garden

Article and photos by Kathleen Walls

Marsha and Darryl Herren are an amazing couple. Seniors, who are their own best advertisement for staying healthy with herbs, they run Georgia's only licensed herb farm. This place is amazing. You can find over 350 varieties of culinary, medicinal and wreath herbs. Their gardens and gift shop, The Still Room, are available for browsing.


 

The Herren's home

Bur mainly this is the Herren's home. As Darryl stated. "This is where we live and how we like to live. With a little bit of room. We have 15 acres here and that's plenty to pay taxes on."

Marsha and Darryl have made good use of every inch of that 15 acres. Where ever you look there are beautiful and useful plants and herbs thriving. The place is a veritable Garden of Eden. Looking around I could understand when Marsha said, "We took an early retirement for mental health. Since moving out here our mental health has greatly improved."
Marsha points out their special rosemary bush

Surrounded by herbs that improve you health and make you food taste better it is easy to believe that not only did their mental health improve but their physical health as well. They certainly work hard to improve the health of those who visit. Plants from seedlings to full grown are all over. basil, oregano, thyme, lavender, coriander, cilantro as many as 280 species of plant. Some culinary, some medicinal, some wreath and some for perfume. The even have some tobacco growing. Darryl tells of the religious uses of the tobacco by native Americans.

Rosemary rules here. They have 28 variety of rosemary. One bush is almost the size of a small tree. I was so impressed with a new variety of rosemary they have produced by crossing some existing plants. The butterfly garden is another impressive place. Darryl explained that in order to have a complete butterfly garden, you need not only the beautiful flowering plants that the butterflies love, you must also have the plants they need as caterpillars and those used to devout and to create their cocoons before hatching into the beautiful flying jewels everyone wants to see in their garden. Not only is the garden welcoming to humans, wildlife seems to love it. In addition to their cat, named George Washington since he was born on Independence Day, deer and many species of birds visit regularly.
Their special gift shop

One fantastic plant they grow is the wild impatient also called jewelweed. This fantastic plant will stop the itch of poison ivy. If applied directly to where you have touched ht e poison ivy you will not get a rash even. Use rubbing alcohol and mix even amounts of the alcohol and the plant moisture from the stem. Add a little glycerin and it will protect you from poison ivy. You can buy it at their gift shop if you don't happen to have a convenient plant.

Another plant that has figured in the history of the South is indigo. Daryl showed us some growing indigo and explained the complicated process for creating the dye form the plant. They have a stagehorn fern that is so big they have named her Lois. Lois is about the size of a Volkswagen beetle.

The gift shop, filled with their own handmade soaps, candles, teas, lotions and books on herbs, is part of their beautifully rustic home they build lovingly by hand. The t hree homemade products that are most popular: Darryl's Sweet Feet, a product that promises to smooth the skin of your feet, Satin-Sage Oil, which is made to reduce wrinkles, and a homemade pain-away product are the most requested products. They invited us in to enjoy some of their homemade bread, cake, lavender cookies and Rooivos tea. I could not help but admire some of Darryl's great natural photographs.

This is the kind of place you need to visit to believe.

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