Herbal Icon: Madalene Hill

madalene-hillOn March 4, 2009, the herb world — and certainly the world of horticulture — lost a true treasure, with the passing of Madalene Hill.

In the mid 1990’s I first became acquainted with Madalene’s extensive herbal and gardening knowledege when I read the highly-acclaimed book, Madalene and her daughter, Gwen Barclay wrote, Southern Herb Growing.  A year or two later, I had the privilege of meeting and lunching with them at the International Herb Association convention held in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Knot Garden at the National Herb Garden, which we had the privilege of visiting  in Washington, D.C. is dedicated to Madalene.

A member of the Herb Society of America since 1958, Madalene organized the South Texas Unit of the HSA in 1968, serving in several capacities throughout her tenure with that organization. When the Pioneer Unit was formed, she became a charter member. Ms. Hill served as chairman of the HSA in 1986-88, and was instrumental in relocating that organization’s headquarters to its present location in Ohio.

A recipient of many awards and recognitions, Madalene continued to be a driving force in the herb world, initiating many innovations and enhancements that benefitted the Herb Society of America. Under her direction, the Rosemary Circle was established, honoring HSA members with 25 years of active service.

In addition to her contributions to HSA, she is noted for discovering new varieties of rosemary.


Herb of 2009: Sweet Bay/Bay Laurel/Bay Leaf

Herb of 2009

Herb of 2009

Happy New Year!

In with the New Year comes the “Herb of the Year”…

The “Herb of the Year” for 2009 is Sweet Bay also referred to as Bay Laurel, and often referred to as Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilius).

First, a bit about the designation “Herb of the Year”:

The International Herb Association (IHA) designates the Herb of the Year. IHA began selecting the Herb of the Year in 1995.

International Herb Association designations for the “Herb of the Year”:

1995 – Fennel
1996 – Monarda (bee balm)
1997 – Thyme
1998 – Mint
1999 – Lavender (genus Lavandula)
2000 – Rosemary (genus Rosemarinus)
2001 – Sage (genus Salvia)
2002 – Echinacea (genus Echinacea)
2003 – Basil (genus Ocimum)
2004 – Garlic (species Allium sativum)
2005 – Oregano/marjoram (genus Origanum)
2006 – Scented geraniums (genus Pelargonium)
2007 – Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
2008 – Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
2009 – Sweet Bay/Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
2010 – Dill (Anethum graveolens)

For more information on the 2009 Herb of the Year Sweet Bay, Bay Laurel/Bay Leaf, click on this link:

Click here for a downloadable factsheet (PDF), courtesy of the Herb Society of America

All best wishes for a Happy-Healthy-Herby 2009!