Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Rosemary, sage, lavender, mint, fennel and oregano hanging from a string.
Herbs hanging at the Children's Garden House. Photo by Ellen McCarthy.
BBG Summer at Home
Dear Garden Friends, 

The Children’s Garden and Discovery Garden are full of herbs like basil, fennel, lemon balm, oregano, thyme, and mint, and our young gardeners are constantly mixing them into healing salves and tasty recipes. Want to grow your own herbs at home? Here’s an easy way to plant a small herb garden in a juice container. Or if you have some outdoor space for planting herbs, this article has helpful tips. Read on for some fun nature, craft, and science activities that are all about herbs.
Let’s Learn: Why Are Plants Smelly?
(Ages 8 and up, 20 minutes)
Girl smelling flowers in the Discovery Garden.
Smelling flowers in the Discovery Garden. Photo by Caroline Voagen Nelson.
Many herbs have a scent people find beautiful (mint, lavender) or not so lovely (rue, catmint). Plants need to attract pollinators like insects, bats, and hummingbirds to transfer pollen and create fertile seeds. Species pollinated by bees have sweet scents, whereas those pollinated by beetles have musty, spicy, or fruity odors.

Some plants have strong, pungent odors. These odors help defend plants, warning would-be foragers that they are not tasty and are possibly even toxic. Want to learn more about plant smells? Try this quiz to see how much you know about plant smells! 
Let’s Create: Herb Prints and Scented Herb Collages
(Ages 5–10, 20 minutes) 
Markers, paper, and fresh herbs on a table.
Drawing on an herb leaf with marker.
Making a print of an herb leaf on paper.
Paper with various herb prints, along with a description of each herb.
Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
If you have dried or fresh herbs around the house, here are a few different nature projects you can try.

Fresh Herbs: Make simple prints of herb leaves and describe their characteristics. You need markers, paper, and leaves of various herbs. Use a washable marker and color on the veiny side of the leaf. Then press the leaf onto paper like a stamp. Describe the texture and smell of the leaves. Keep a running list throughout the summer of various fresh herbs! 

Dried Herbs: Make a “scratch and sniff” herb collage with glue, paper, and dried herbs from your pantry.

Spread one area of the construction paper with a layer of glue, or “draw” with glue to make shapes. Cover it with herbs and spices such as dried rosemary, parsley flakes, oregano, or chamomile flowers. Let the glue dry for a minute, then shake off the excess herbs. 

Continuation: Did you know that all plants have botanical names? You can make a scented herb identification sheet with the common name and the botanical name.
Bowls of dried herbs, glue, pencils, and paper.
Sprinkling dried herbs onto glue on paper.
Herb collage.
Herbs glued onto paper with common names and botanical names.
Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
Let’s Make: Herbal Sugar Hand Scrub
(All ages, 10 minutes) 
Sugar, coconut oil, fresh herbs and a jar.
Sugar and coconut oil in a bowl
Sugar, coconut oil, and herbs in a bowl being mixed with a spoon.
Finished herbal hand scrub in a jar.
Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
You can make a simple smoothing skin scrub using plain sugar mixed with herbs and coconut oil! This easy mix of kitchen items keeps your skin soft. This recipe makes half a cup of homemade herbal sugar scrub. Mix in any sweet-smelling herbs like mint, thyme, rosemary, or lemon verbena.

3 tablespoons minced fresh sweet-smelling herbs (mint, lemon verbena, thyme) 
½ cup coconut oil
¼ cup granulated sugar
Recycled ja
Directions: Combine all ingredients and mix well. To use: Massage into your hands and fingernails for 30 seconds. Rinse and pat dry. Store your scrub in a recycled glass jar in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy! 
Let’s Cook: Homemade Herb Butter
(All ages with adult supervision, 20 minutes) 
Jar, cream, salt, garlic, and herbs on a table.
Pouring buttermilk into a bowl, with remaining butter in a jar.
Mixing fresh butter with herbs.
A bowl of fresh herb butter, and toast with butter.
Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
This recipe is a fun family project—and an arm workout! Pass the jar around to your family members to shake. Add any herbs you have on hand. Sing this rhyme as you shake the jar: Shake, shake, shake it, shake it if you can, shake it like a milkshake, and shake it once again!

¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon freshly chopped herbs (try chives, basil, parsley, cilantro, or another tasty herb) 
Pinch of salt 
Optional: 1 clove minced garlic
Directions: Place the heavy cream and a pinch of salt in a jar. Make sure the lid is securely attached. Shake the jar vigorously for approximately 5–10 minutes until cream has turned to butter. Listen for the sound of liquid sloshing in the jar. A pale, thin liquid (the buttermilk) will be surrounding the butter. Carefully pour the contents of the jar into the colander. As the buttermilk passes through, the butter will remain. If you like, save the buttermilk to make buttermilk pancakes or biscuits! Stir the herbs and/or garlic into the butter. Serve on bread or crackers.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these herb projects. Whether you prefer thyme or fennel or cilantro, we want to hear how you use herbs in your daily lives. Share stories and recipes with us. We will see you next week with more fun projects and science activities. Stay cool!

—BBG’s Children’s Education Team
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