Shady Acres Gardener Pens Book on the History of Herbs

"Beyond Rosemary, Basil and Thyme" author Theresa Mieseler and her husband. The two operate Shady Acres Herb Farm together.
Theresa Mieseler's "Beyond Rosemary, Basil and Thyme" features history, uses, propagation, recipes, DIY projects and stories—all about herbs.

To see some of Theresa Mieseler's delicious, herbaceous recipes, click here.

Sometimes, the brightest moments come in the dark of night.

In March 2018, Theresa Mieseler had just completed a horticultural education project and was wondering where the next fork in the road would lead her. “Literally, it was a few days later, I woke in the middle of the night, and the [figurative] light came on,” she says. “I knew my destiny was to write about my experiences with herbs during my nearly 40 years at Shady Acres.”

From 1977 to 2016, Mieseler and her husband, Jim, operated Shady Acres Herb Farm, where they grew and sold greenhouse-grown herbs and held classes and workshops. “Our loyal customers visited the farm because of the quality and variety of plants Jim and I sold,” she says. “Those personal experiences turned into a passion for herbs.”

That passion turned into words with Mieseler’s book, Beyond Rosemary, Basil and Thyme, featuring history, uses, propagation, recipes, DIY projects and stories—all about herbs. While the author had plenty of first-hand knowledge, she researched the finer points of the book through records she kept throughout years in business and information from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Andersen Horticultural Library, the Carver County Library and herb cohorts in the Herb Society of America and International Herb Association.

Even with the depth of her knowledge, Mieseler dug up some surprises through her research. “I discovered so many stories about the herbs I was writing about that I didn’t know were there,” she says. For example, where did Angelica gigas come from? “As I was researching this herb, I learned about Barry Yinger, who found it growing initially in Japan and again in South Korea. After correspondence with Barry, he gave me the information to write the story about this plant and how he brought it to the United States. It is well known now in public and private gardens, thanks to Barry,” Mieseler says. “On a winter trip to Texas in 2018, I found [foxley] in a local greenhouse. After nearly six months of searching, I found the person who isolated and propagated this plant in Surrey, England.”

Many more anecdotes are in the book. “Everyone was so happy to share, and that made my writing a pleasure,” Mieseler says. “I call it the people/plant connection.”

The Chaska resident enjoys sharing her passion for herbs. “The questions really are what herbs do people want to grow besides chives, mint and common basil,” she says. “It is an endless question I get over and over. There are fragrances in flowers and leaves that aren’t well known and are there to be discovered and grown. Scented geraniums, basil and rosemary varieties, the intoxicating fragrance of Caracalla and gardenias, and it goes on.”

Mieseler is gratified that many home cooks are taking renewed interest in gardening of all sorts, including with herbs. “It’s not just a select age group either,” she says. “It’s people of all ages, particularly the younger generation.”

What’s in Mieseler’s garden? “My passion is herbs, and I surely do have many gardens—perennial and annual plants, ornamental and culinary herbs,” she says. “[Post harvest], the herbs are preserved in vinegars, butters, mustards and seasoning blends. Depending on the herb, they are dried, frozen, dehydrated or made into a pesto.”

Meet Theresa Mieseler from 10:30 a.m.-noon September 21 at the Carver County Library, Waconia, where she’ll appear for a presentation and book signing.