2013 Herbfest Next Weekend


Story by Lindsey Chester. Photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Next Saturday, May 4, 2013, the Friends of Page-Walker host their 4th annual Herbfest celebration. See the historic Page-Walker garden in full bloom, learn about local plants and herbs, sample foods, browse for gifts and garden items and much more.

The Tasteful Garden Visits Herbfest

The Friends have planned a pre-Herbfest reception for Friday, May 3, 2013 at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center (7:00 PM). The kickoff event stars local celebrity food and garden writers Debbie Moose and Carol Stein, co-authors of The (Raleigh) News & Observer’s monthly column, The Tasteful Garden.

Debbie and Carol will talk about how to cook what you grow and grow what you like to eat. Guests will have an opportunity to meet the writers at a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception and book signing following the program.

Cook What You Grow

If you know the Tasteful Garden column, you know Debbie and Carol like to cook with vegetables and herbs they grow here in their Triangle garden.

Debbie is currently on a tour for her latest book, Buttermilk:A Savor The  South Cookbook, published by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She did a book signing appearance recently at La Farm Bakery here in Cary and will visit Charleston, SC.

I asked Debbie what attendees can expect during the evening. “Carol and I tend not to plan too strongly. We have been writing the column for about 8 years together.” She adds, “Carol knows more about gardening and I know more about food trends.”

Debbie and Carol will bring food with them to be sampled at the event. Debbie is debating whether to choose deviled eggs from one cookbook or some potato salad featured in another. Whatever she brings, you be rest assured it will be fresh, using herbs she grows in containers. Like many suburbanites, Debbie’s garden has  limited sunny patches suitable for a larger plot.

Tomatoes for Cary

Growing some types of vegetables can be a challenge in the Piedmont with our acidic soil (thanks Pine trees!) and clay base. I asked Carol Stein “Can you grow a decent tomato here?” Carol said its a question she gets often.

“The answer is yes. But many tomato varieties are subject to soil borne diseases. Tomatoes prefer alkaline soils, with organic compost mixed in. In the garden, they require frequent weeding and for that reason I prefer to grow tomatoes in large containers. My favorite variety is Sun Gold grape tomatoes. They’re prolific, have the sweetest flavor ever, and easy to grow in larger containers.”

The two will no doubt get questions like that one and many others from eager Cary gardeners.

5 Tips for a Successful Garden

Carol’s 5 tips creating a successful garden:

  1. Read the tags on the plants and seeds you buy. You will learn when, where and how to plant and maintain each individual variety.
  2. Accurately follow the measurements recommended on the labels of organic fertilizers. Too much fertilizer is worse than no fertilizer.
  3. Perennial herbs look compact in their little starter pots, but some can be used as large landscape shrubs. I have fragrant and pungent herbs all over my Panther Branch acre and deer don’t come sniffing around my veggies and ornamental plants.
  4. Keep flowers picked off of annual herbs like basil and parsley to promote more foliage.
  5. There’s no wrong time to cut perennial herbs for use in the kitchen. The more you prune, the more herbs you’ll have to enjoy.

Debbie mentioned they will talk about growing conditions here in the Piedmont – what plants like it here, but can also look good in your landscape, and what are edible. Maybe a recipe or two will be thrown in at the end, like they do in their weekly column.

Herbfest 2013

The festival continues to grow, adding new vendors and additional food options each year. The date is always the first Saturday in May, falling conveniently before Mother’s Day allowing for purchases of last minute gifts for Mom (or Dad).

Festival-goers will have many opportunities to find out all they need to know about starting an herb garden by touring the Page Educational Garden, including a close-up look at the historic 1850’s Page smokehouse.

In addition, they will have a chance to watch herb cooking demonstrations and stroll through booths selling a wide variety of herbs, crafts and garden products.

Butterfly Releases and other Fun Activities

The popular Suzanne Tilton, a.k.a. the Butterfly Lady returns to Herbfest this year as a crowd favorite. Her live butterfly releases are scheduled for 11:30 AM and 2:30 PM.

New to this year’s Herbfest is the Friends’ collaboration with the Cary Creative Center From 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, volunteers from the Center will provide reuse materials and guidance for children to make a fun garden craft. The Cary Creative Center is connecting people with the arts and environment to promote reuse as a way to achieve waste reduction in our community landfills.

Guests also won’t want to miss the silent auction for a chance to win herb and garden-related items, including a garden book and beautiful butterfly/herb photographs.

“We’re so pleased that Herbfest has become a community tradition that brings so many people to historic downtown Cary,” said Friends’ President, Brent Miller. “I know that folks won’t want to miss the special program with Debbie Moose and Carol
Stein on Friday evening, and of course the fantastic vendors, garden tours, children’s activities, food and fun on Saturday.”

Event Info

Herbfest 2013
presented by the Friends of Page-Walker Hotel
Sat May 4, 2013
rain or shine

Page- Walker Arts & History Center
119 Ambassador Loop
Cary, NC

Cost: Free

Activities throughout the day, booths with items for purchase.

Pre-festival event  “The Tasteful Garden”
Friday May 3, 7:00pm

Authors Carol Stein and Debbie Moose will speak about gardening and cooking.
Attendees can meet the authors during a wine and cheese reception.

Tickets for the pre-festival evening program on May 3 are $20.00 each and can be purchased at the Cary Arts Center box office, online at eTix.com or by phone at 1-800-514-3849. A limited number of tickets are available to this event and a sellout is anticipated.


The Gardening Column on CaryCitizen is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Rd. in Cary, NC.


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