University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial Publications : Book of the Month

2002. Barbara Perry Lawton.  Timber Press.  239pp, hardcover.

This book is about all mints, the first to treat all the Mint family (Lamiaceae or Labiatae), all 67 genera. Thus it is appropriately subtitled "A Family of Herbs and Ornamentals."  Of course when one mentions mint the "true mints" (Mentha) come to mind, which of course are part of these.  But in addition are members used for cooking, aromatic properties, and just ornamentals.  Each of these is treated in a chapter overview, including cultural tips, with the last part of the book and A-Z listing of the common and probably never heard of members by most.  Each plant has a short description with hardiness rating.  There are also chapters on mints in history and lore, weedy mints, pests and diseases and the botany of mints.  Written to be understood easily by the average gardener, the wealth of information on this family make it a useful reference as well to professionals.

The author has been interested in, growing, and researching mints for years.  As director of publications for the Missouri Botanic Garden, she has utilized many botanical prints from their collection to illustrate this book.  Color photos are also included illustrating various plants, combinations and uses in design. She has also written several other gardening books.

The opening chapter on mints in history and lore has subheadings on mints mentioned in sacred texts such as the Bible, in Shakespeare, in the language of herbs, in the history of herbs including the doctrine of signatures and old herbals.  In the next chapter on health and home, subheadings treat mint uses for health, for home such as in fresheners, in the kitchen for cooking, and then in garden design and several large gardens.  Herbal mints includes those one may not associate with this family, such as salvias, basal, rosemary and lavender.  Salvias also overlap with the members strictly ornamental, as well as such as bee balm, cat mint, and coleus.  Several of the more weedy members are also covered, of course with tips on controlling, but also beneficial uses and situations for these plants.  Under pests and diseases, least toxic and non-chemical controls are given.

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