I love this time of year, the span from Thanksgiving until Christmas, and although I’m not spending quite as much time in my yard, the outdoors is still very much a part of my activities. That’s because as I’m doing my holiday cooking and baking, I’m using wonderful herbs that remind me of this season each year.

Herbs are wonderful plants to have in our landscaping because they add colors, textures and aromas above and beyond the usual plants we incorporate. They are hardy, can usually handle sun and dry conditions, and are fairly easy to find. But they are so much more than that.

I wanted to discuss a few herbs that tend to be used the most during the holiday season, and some of the wonderful benefits to using them beyond your mealtime preparations.

Thyme is one of those herbs that I have growing in my landscape. Although it’s great to add to stuffing, it is also said to benefit the respiratory system, treating coughs and congestion.

Rosemary is another plant I love in my landscaping. It has such a potent aroma and whether it is the upright or trailing variety, it is a wonderfully hardy species. But many don’t know that rosemary, beyond making a wonderful contribution to mashed potatoes or green beans, helps with the digestive, immune and circulatory systems and works as an anti-inflammatory.

Sage is another herb I think of when it comes to making stuffing. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, aids in brain function, and may have antioxidant properties. A variety of sages are found in many local landscapes.

Finally, I wanted to mention cinnamon. Although 80 to 90 percent of all cinnamon is grown in Sri Lanka, it still may be possible to grow a cinnamon plant here, left in a pot so it can be protected from frost. Whether we grow it ourselves or not, it is a wonderful spice that makes me think of yams and pumpkin and apple pies.

Lately, I have heard much about its health benefits, too. It is reported to help regulate blood sugar as well as help with arthritis pain.

As holiday baking continues through Christmas, consider the wonderful herbs that not only make our landscapes prettier and our meals tastier, but also possiblymake our bodies just a little healthier.

Blessings to you and yours.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

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