|Herb garden at the Wood
County Historical Center. 8/14/09 (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
One beautiful garden in the Bowling Green area is tucked away where only few have seen it.
Located behind the Wood County Historical Museum, 13660 County Home Road, is what is called the
"herb garden" and is operated by the Black Swamp Herb Society.
Ruth Steele, president of the herb society, hopes that more people will take a journey out to see the
beauty and diversity in the garden.
While some of the plants may be slightly past their prime, there are still many herbs to see, touch and
"This is your garden," Steele directed to the general public. "Come out and enjoy
There are four specific garden islands within the overall garden.
Those four mini-gardens are the medicinal garden; fragrance garden, everlasting garden and culinary
"Come rub the leaves in the fragrance garden and see if you can identify the scents," she said.
Steele said this is a favorite of children, especially a plant which smells like a chocolate mint.
Besides the plants, Steele indicated visitors to the gardens will also often see bees and butterflies
which also enjoy the various items growing for obviously other reasons.
Nearby there is also a children’s garden and a butterfly garden with additional plants there specifically
designed to attract butterflies.
In a nearby pond, the master gardener indicated two Canada geese and their offspring can often be seen.
"This is such a wonderful place to come," Steele added.
In addition, she says several couples each year choose to hold their wedding at the site.
The BSHS will soon be adding another functional and educational project to the area. They will be
installing a compost system comprised of three bins which are designed to create compost for the garden
in just three weeks.
They have arranged for a Scout to construct and install the four-foot square bins as part of his Eagle
Among the familiar plants in the culinary garden are such kitchen staples as basil, kale a variety of
peppers and fennel.
She indicated each of the four areas features at least 40 different plants with mostly only one or two of
Two common plants are featured in each of the gardens to provide some consistency – germander and
Steele indicated the gardens were started in 1993 boosted by Jean Gamble.
"This would not have been possible without Jean," Steele said.
Other interesting features in or near the garden are several rose bushes, a purple martin bird house,
which Steele says has been confiscated by other birds; sundials and a small butterfly house in the
medicinal garden area.
Among the herbs in the medicinal garden are foxglove also called digitalis, used to make the heart
medication; feverfew, used for migraines or to reduce fevers as its name implies; St. John’s Wort, an
anti-depressant; coneflowers, which can be used to boost the immune system; garlic which can be used to
treat blood pressure; and horehound, known for its use for congestion in certain cough drops.
In the everlasting garden, visitors will find a variety of herbs which dry themselves and can be used in
arrangements or similar projects. Plants in this area include the yarrow and millet.
Steele indicated beyond just visiting the garden, the BSHS is always looking for new members. Their
current roster of 24 members features a collection of people with a wide range of experience and
In addition to meetings throughout the year, the society’s members organize other programs and tour area
gardens. The group meets on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. and most often at the herb garden.
Most all of the plants have been provided by BSHS members as well as local nurseries.
Any interested people are welcome to attend or call Steele at (419) 308-0765 to set up a time to meet
The Black Swamp Herb Society is a non-profit organization.