French Tarragon Wins
The winner of the Colin Powell Hardy Herb 2005 Championship is French Tarragon (Artemesia drancunculis). Thyme Golden Yellow (Thymus x citriodorus ‘Aureus’) finished a distant second. The championship is an annual competition between various herbs located in my herb garden. To claim victory the contestant herbs must survive the winter and summer unassisted. The champion is then selected by taking into account factors such as the amount and quality of living green foliage. This year’s competition attracted a broad field of contestants including; Sweet Basil (Ocimum Basilicum), Italian Parsley (Petroselinum crispum neopolitanum), Rosemary (Rosemarinus Officinalis), Spearmint (Mentha Spicata), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana) and Compact Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum). A tough competition was expected this year with experts predicting winter temperatures 2.5 degrees below normal in the region. Basil and Mint were the earliest victims falling just before the end of 2004. It was thought that Thyme Golden Yellow had joined them but, in what commentators have dubbed the “Hillary-Hibernation Strategy,” Thyme Golden Yellow held on to finish second with a respectable showing of 11 green sprigs. This year signals the end for the Basil team however with team leader Sweet Basil declaring that the team had listened and learned. The Tom DeLay Prize, awarded annually to the most dramatic death in the competition, goes to Compact Greek Oregano, which left a large plate of frizzled dry plant matter in its wake. French Tarragon emerges as a relative unknown, its last minute entry largely the result of a two-for-one price offer at Home Depot. With its name derived from the Latin “Dracunculus” meaning “a little dragon,” Tarragon claimed the ability to cure the bites and stings of venomous beasts and mad dogs. Despite such bravado, it was felt this Southern European would be unable to adjust to the cold winter. But the French herb pushed ahead, sidelining Rosemary, and dashed through the summer to secure its first victory in the championship.