Rhein Center Herb Garden is Open to All Lakesiders

Posted on July 14, 2011

A community herb garden has been planted in the C. Kirk Rhein, Jr., Center for the Living Arts’ backyard, located on the corner of Walnut Avenue and Sixth Street.

“Each spring Lakeside has an Annual Plant Sale and the herbs in the garden were leftover from the sale,” Lakeside gardener Vern Hartenburg said. “We had the idea to plant them at a convenient location and grow them for the community.”

The Lakeside Grounds Department planted the herbs in early June and together, Hartenberg and Lakeside gardener Linda Bunker work to maintain the garden they envisioned.

“It’s really been a collaborative effort,” Hartenburg said. “There was never an opportunity for cottage owners and vacationers to have fresh herbs daily at no cost to use for their food, such as hamburgers, salads or lemonade, before now.”

Proprietor of the Hotel Lakeside Café, Jason Platfoot, has harvested herbs for his menu.

Hartenburg said David Geyer, vice president of Municipal Services, has been supportive. Although the garden is new, the herbs are already showing healthy growth.

“For years, Jan Hilty has had the demonstration herb garden by the Pavilion that she uses for her classes,” Hartenburg said. “Now, Jan is including the new (Rhein Center) garden in her Herb Study programs. She makes sure people are knowledgeable about herbs, and also informs them that they can use the herbs in the garden.”

The herbs are open for anyone in Lakeside to use, In fact, it is expected.

“We encourage people to cut and harvest the herbs because it really helps the plants to grow and improve their vigor,” he said.

Hartenburg also added that the freshness of the herbs is also renewed when cut.

The garden is comprised of oregano, lemon verbena, thyme, catmint, sage, chives, rosemary, tarragon, parsley and mint. Sunflowers and “Vern’s Violets” also reside in the garden.

“When I was digging the garden up the violets were everywhere,” he said. “Instead of destroying them, I planted them together under the downspout so they would self-water.”

Once the violets were redistributed, a stone labeled “Vern’s Violets” was placed in front, along with stones to label each of the 11 herbs. The stones and a sign identifying the garden were painted by the Rhein Center staff and placed in the garden.

“If people have other herbs they would like to plant, they can plant them themselves or call us and we will plant the herbs for them,” Hartenburg said.

As for the future, many of the herbs will continue to come back each year, helping the garden to grow and expand.

For more information, please contact  the Lakeside Grounds Department at lksd.gardens@gmail.com.