Plants Tammy Has Not Seen Before

Each year, Wellfield chooses unique plants to display in our Sensory Garden. This year, I was lucky enough to be given the assignment to fill in the table planter. I took a trip to Nelson‘s Herbs in Edwardsburg ( There, I saw quite a few plants I hadn’t seen before in person. So this year the display table’s theme is “Plants Tammy Hasn’t Seen Before, and Edible Flowers”. Here are some interesting facts about some of the unique plants I chose. 

Stevia rebaudiana – Yes, this is the sugar substitute plant. ‘Sweetleaf’ leaves taste sweeter when they are dried and are sweetest in the cool autumn weather.

Pogostemon cablin – Patchouli is often associated with the essential oil beloved by the hippies of the 60’s. This is the first time I had ever seen the actual plant. It’s often used as a perfume for soaps, lotions, shampoos and more. It also has anti-fungal properties and can be used as an insect repellent. 

Salsola komarovii – Saltwort is one of Japan’s oldest vegetables. It’s a unique, salt tolerant plant that is also referred to as “land seaweed”. It’s best eaten raw in salads, steamed/blanched in salt water, or simply cooked in butter. Its distinct salty aftertaste makes it a natural complement to fish.

Calendula officinalis ‘Radio’– This variety of calendula is nearly 100 years old. The flowers are edible and are a good substitute for saffron. 

Spilanthes oleracea ‘Lemon Drop’ – Also known as the toothache plant. The leaves and flowers will numb your tongue and gums, easing pain. 

Matthiola incana ‘Iron Purple’ – The flowers of the stock plant have a clove-like flavor. They make a good garnish on salads, desserts and drinks.  

Next time you are in the Sensory Garden, I hope you make a stop at the table and check out these unique plants. If you are ever in search of herbs, a good gardening book, tasty local treats or are in Edwardsburg, stop at Nelson‘s Herbs! There are so few of these treasured local greenhouses left in our area!

Tammy Hopkins, Horticulturist 

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