by Charlene Burgi
Growing up in an Italian home, oregano (Origanum vulgare) was a staple herb always at hand. Both nonis (grandmothers) and mom used it liberally to season their roasts, stews, soups and sauces, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to run into the garden to grab a handful of leaves as a way to help these fabulous cooks perform their mouth-watering dishes.
After time, I forgot about this staple unless it came in a crushed dried form and was called out in a recipe. Then recently I needed to decorate for a family event and found beautiful arrangements made with two types of oreganos at a local nursery. I had forgotten about this lovely plant and started to do some research to find that it was not only valued for its cooking and medicinal purposes, but it makes a great lawn substitute. Additionally, its roots grow deep into soil requiring little water; it flowers in shades of pink, rose, and purple; it thrives in the sun; and some types of oregano have variegated leaves that add to its interest. The piatto forte (pièce de résistance) ~ it is not a favorite in the deer family’s diet.