Field Trip to Richters Herbs

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Last Friday, a friend with a car (THANK YOU JOHN, I hearby bequeath my first born to you. The cat is also an option.) drove Davin, myself, and another friend on a field trip to Richters Herbs about an hour outside Toronto, in Goodwood, Ontario. The goal was to enjoy some greenery, buy some herbs to use as table decor for my forthcoming book launch party (more on that soon), and of course, get a few plants for myself while we were at it.

The goal was not to get loud and obnoxious on caffeine, plant oxygen, and a half glass of wine… but I did that too. You can’t take me anywhere.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
Here’s the outside. Look they got the fancy log reindeer out just for us! No, not really. We are not special.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

The entire operation is made of of several greenhouses but only one was set up for retail. It consists of three aisles with four long tables of plants. Since it’s winter, the place wasn’t as stocked as I imagine it will be come spring, which is just as well since it was difficult enough to make a selection and avoid overspending. Here I am pondering what to buy for the launch party. I think you’ll like my choices. And if you hang around long enough, you’ll get to take one home. It pays to be a party hanger-on.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

There was much agonizing over plants and purchases. We look absolutely tortured, but I’d imagine that what Davin has actually captured here is a blissful moment of total plant geekery. This is what my face looks like when I am having fun and in my element. For the record, I did buy the plant Barry and I are so painfully considering: curly chives (Allium spirale).

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
An outwardly brighter moment captured holding my most favourite acquisition of the day: Pregnant Onion (Ornithogalum caudatum).

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
A lot of the garden decor for sale wasn’t really to my taste. Like this pig planter made of straw. I don’t get it. Don’t try to explain it to me. I don’t want to know. Okay, yes, I get that the plant in the ceramic part of the planter is Pig’s Ears. Funny. Har. Gardeners are WACKY! And sometimes have horribly bad taste. Regardless, none of this matters in the end since I was there for the plants — garden decor didn’t factor into my fantasy land vision of the place prior to the trip.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
Speaking of Pig’s Ears (Cotyledon orbiculata)… why didn’t I get one? So much regret. According to the catalogue, Pig’s Ears is a succulent from South Africa that is used as remedy for warts. I don’t have a wart problem at this time, but I like the idea that should I develop one, an herbal remedy would be at the ready. Emergency preparedness is paramount.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
Turns out there was a thing or two that did catch my fancy. I bought the misshapen black pot in the middle for $8 (the pregnant onion is now happily potted up in it), but did not notice that tin garden sign until I looked at these photos. I can’t stop wondering how much it cost. Best not to know.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
I’ve recently rekindled a desire to collect scented geraniums (pelargoniums). It wasn’t long ago that I managed to get rid of most of the plants I had for want of space. It was a tough choice but I ended up with three new plants on this trip: ‘Mabel Grey’, ‘Fair Ellen’, and the ever-so-velvety leaved ‘Peppermint’. Barry bought a few as well so I think I’ll be taking some cuttings from him in about six months. You know, if he doesn’t mind. And just as soon as I can find some space!

Scented geraniums are some of the easiest plants to propagate from cuttings so it’s worth splitting an order with a friend if you can wait for the plants to grow a bit before making more.


I’m super excited about growing ‘Lemon Mint’ marigold. It really is quite lemony! A bit more intense in flavour than the ‘Lemon Gem’ marigold, I’d say. The plant is obviously bigger and less delicate, and the flowers are larger too. I had hoped for seeds but this one only came as a plant so I bought one and am now faced with the challenge of keeping it small and compact until it can make the migration outside for the summer.

Other plants I bought but did not photograph:

  • Sweet Pink – A dianthus with edible flowers that have a sweet, clove-like smell.
  • Variegated Pepper Mint – So far it looks like a nice low-trailing plant, but you never really know until it gets in the garden. I like the creamy variegation in this one.
  • Anise Verbena (Lippa alba): I haven’t even looked this one up yet, but I’m imagining a tender shrub similar to lemon verbena, although the leaves are a bit wider. It has a deliciously sweet anise scent that I couldn’t resist.

I’m sure many of these plants will be making an appearance in the Daily Botanical a few months down the road once I’ve had a chance to have some growing time with them.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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18 thoughts on “Field Trip to Richters Herbs

  1. Looks like a great road trip.
    That reminds me…it’s time to dig out the Stokes seed catalogue & get busy! ~whee!~

  2. Peppermint Scented Geranium is one of the plants that really gets folks going in my horticultural therapy programs. This sensory plants has a lot going for it – smart purchase!

  3. Ciao Gayla-

    Fantastic! And just in time for Valentine’s Day, too. I always love a good romantic trip to Richters. You and your geraniums! LOL, this is so funny. Ever since our first plant swap, I’ll forever remember your deep obsession with scented geraniums and a mom to rival all Catholic moms of spider plants. Too cute, like me and my obsession with basil. I need an entire Lee Valley Binder devoted to basil.

    I think we’re going to Allen Gardens on Family Day to smell and fondle the plants there. And Humber. I need beans, lots and lots of beans.

    By the way, your obsessions do rub off. This is the year I grow the gem marigold so I can eat it. Maybe I’ll have to pick your new one up as well now!

  4. Thanks for the tour! I’ve heard of Richters through my herb research, but have never visited or purchased from them. And scented geraniums — they’re the best! Can’t get enough of them.

  5. Greenhouses are full of temptation, all those lovely plants and I can resist anything but temptation, as Oscar Wilde said. And the Garden sign, that would have been nice to get too. It would have looked lovely on your roof garden.

  6. I’m trying to remember if we ever got out there together or if this was your first time there?! Anyway, your photos reminded me of how much I love that place…I can smell it, looking at them.

  7. That looks like a great time. I wish I could get my husband to go to some of these monster greenhouses with me! You’ve inspired me to go visit my favorite supplier in Ohio, yippee!

  8. This looks so wonderful.

    I am going through major February / plant withdrawal right now. Thank goodness I can finally begin starting seeds and smell some soil again.

    Love the black pot you purchased AND CONGRATS on your Grow Great Grub book quote in the February Country Living mag!

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