Article and photo by Donna Iverson
Hyssop isn’t a plant you will find in most home gardens. But you will find it in a Shakespeare garden, like the one next to the Hackley Public Library in Muskegon.
Shakespeare refers to many Elizabethan herbs in his plays including thyme, lavender, mint, burnet, parsley, and of course hyssop. Specifically, he refers to planting hyssop in Othello, Act 1.
An ancient herb, hyssop (hyssopus officinalis) is a member of the mint family along with other popular garden herbs like salvia, sage, lavender, and oregano. It is native to the Mediterranean area although it has naturalized in some places in the US, especially California.
Hyssop is popular with pollinators, both butterflies and bees. Its fragrant delicate blue flowers grow on plants that average about two feet tall. It is drought tolerant, easy to grow, low maintenance and edible.
It would add charm and fragrance to a cottage garden, rock garden, herb garden, patio garden and along walkways. It is happy to grow in a container although its extensive root system requires an extra large pot to thrive. It blooms continually from June to October.
In the kitchen, Hyssop’s young leaves can be added to stews, soups and sauces. Commercially, it is added to liquors like Chartreuse and Benedictine. It is also effective as an air freshener and can be used in potpourris.
Medicinally, a herbal tea can be made with hyssop that is used for digestive and intestinal problems as well as for respiratory infections and asthma. It is both antiseptic and an expectorant. However, persons with high blood pressure, epilepsy, or pregnancy should avoid it. And hyssop oil should never be taken internally by anyone.
In earlier times and in certain modern circles, hyssop is referred to as a magical herb. Herbalist Michelle Gruben recommends carrying a sprig of hyssop in your pocket to protect against unkind thoughts sticking to you. She suggests adding it to your bath for the same purpose. And like sage, it can be used to cleanse a room of bad energy. In ancient times, hyssop was used to purify churches.
While hyssop is not native, Giant Hyssop (Agastache scrophuliifolia) is native to the US. It grows along woodland edges to a height of six feet, usually in damp soil. Other names include anise hyssop and licorice plant.
From The Friends of the Fremont Library Group
The Friends of the Fremont Area District Library are an active, vital, and beloved group that works hard year-round to support their local library. They do volunteer work around the library, including decorating each holiday season to bring festive cheer to staff and patrons, as well as fundraising to support library collections and initiatives.
If you visit the library you will find a unique gift shop that is staffed by volunteers. In the store, shelves are filled with gently used books, brand new games and toys, gifts, home décor, and more. All proceeds go to the Friends of the Fremont Library who in turn use that money to put back into more fundraising efforts to multiply what they are able to donate to the library each year. This amazing group also hosts an annual book sale each year during the National Baby Food Festival as well as other smaller fundraisers throughout the year.
In 2022, The Friends of the Fremont Library were able to donate the funds to get a “Library of Things” collection started at the Fremont Library. So far that collection includes yard games and board games, but will be expanding in 2023 to include more recreational items such as binoculars as well as household tools like a stud finder.
How does a “Library of Things” work? Well, it’s pretty simple! You checkout the item just as you would check out a book or a magazine. The items, or a picture of the item if it is too large for the shelf, can be found on the main floor of the Fremont Library right next to the Large Print section. You take the item, or picture of the item, to the Circulation Desk, present your library card, and the item is checked out to your account for 1 to 3 weeks depending on the item.
The Friends of the Library also donate hundreds of dollars each year to support the library’s Summer Reading Program. In addition to allowing staff to give coupons for free books from their book store, they also supply the funding for the Children’s Summer Reading prize books. The Fremont Library has hundreds of students finish the program each summer and collect a prize book so it can get expensive fast. So far already in 2023, more than 600 children have signed up for this program and usually around half of those make it to the end of the challenge.
This year, the Friend’s annual book sale has more books than ever thanks to our generous community for donating their used books. Please stop by the library’s community room on Thursday, July 20th between 9am and 4pm, or Friday, July 21st between 9am and 3pm to shop the sale.
If you would like more information on how you can join this impactful organization or for any questions regarding the book sale, gift shop, or other programs please call the Fremont Area District Library at (231) 924-3480 or stop by during their open hours!
Birding Presentation, Cooking from Your Garden, Honeybees, and More Coming to Fremont Library
The Fremont Area District Library continues to offer lots of fun events this summer. Here’s what’s coming July 6th-15th:
The Summer Reading Program encourages families to read together so that kids maintain or improve their reading skills throughout the summer and enter school ready to succeed in the fall. Visit the Fremont Area District Library to get signed up and start earning prizes. The library will offer many exciting events to attend this summer, so visit www.fremontlibrary.net or the Fremont Area District Library Facebook page to see what’s available!
This year’s Summer Reading Program is generously sponsored by: Baars Pharmacy, Blondie Blossom Boutique, Bruce's Glass Shop, Blades Hair Design and Boutique, CBD Store of Michigan, Dave's Auto Clinic, Elsie's Ice Cream, Excellence in Vision, Firestorm Gaming, Friends of the Fremont Area District Library, Geers Family Chiropractic, Gerber Federal Credit Union, Gerber, Nestlé, Koffee Kuppe, Lakeside Swirl, Meijer, Mellema Nursery, Moon Dance Café, Nieboer Electric, NCCA-Artsplace, Northern Rustic Designs, NorthPointe Gymnastics, Paulsen Heating & Cooling, Pizza Hut, Reeman Farm Equipment, SHB Gifts & Décor, Spanky's Pizza, The Original Print Shop, White & Associates, Tire Wholesalers Plus, Walmart, and Discovery Toys Pat Durham. For more information about library programs, visit http://www.fremontlibrary.net, or call 231-924-3480.