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There are many ways to use Sweet Annie … once you find and grow it.

'Sweet Annie' is well worth the search

Fall makes me think of pumpkins, spice and everything nice, and the golden colors of the season.  For myself, it’s the favorite time for “Sweet Annie” … also called artemisia annua, sweet sagewort, annual mugwort or annual wormwood, but I just all it “Sweet Annie.”

A few years ago, we made a stop at the Farmer’s Market in Asheville, NC, to pick up some fresh vegetables and just walk around on the way home from a long trip to Alabama. I learned two things on that stop I’ll never forget. 

First, I learned that you cannot take pictures of the crafts, which I was making lots of until a security guard came up to me and told me to stop. I honestly thought he was kidding until he did not smile and pointed to the sign on the wall: “No Photos Allowed!”

The second thing I became aware of was an aromatic scent from a simple small dried wreath, and I knew I had to find out what it was made from. I looked at the price tag and it was $45. I didn’t think it was that nice, but the vendor told me the wreath was made from Sweet Annie and that it would keep its color and fragrant aroma for years.

Thus began my mission to find and grow this sweet plant for next year to make my own wreaths.
I searched seed catalogs in January and found the seed from Johnnys’ Seeds and placed an order for about a zillion seeds — I seem to recall the cost was about $25 for this large amount.  When they arrived, I tried starting them in my greenhouse in flats, in pots and in trays. Week after week, I tried to get this must-have plant to start. I can grow cotton, orchids, ficus trees and even make Kokodama balls, but I could not get my sweet Annie to germinate and it was a must-have to be able to make wreaths this fall.

Off I went in search of Sweet Annie plants, and I couldn’t find them anywhere. I went to a couple of Herb festivals and found silver artemesia, but it wasn’t what I had seen called Sweet Annie.

I was ready to give up when one early morning a good friend (now an even better friend!), Jimmy Henshaw, came by with a little box containing four pots of Sweet Annie. He said his wife Jeanette told him to run them over to Sue to see if she would like to have them. They had little plants coming up all through their garden and she loved them.

I lovingly took them and immediately felt the sweet aroma of this amazing herb. I told him, “Jimmy, you have no idea how long I have searched for this plant and how I’ve wanted to grow this for wreaths!” 
So, being the sweet man that he is, he went home and told his wife how happy I was and the next day he showed up with lots more. I have cherished every plant, and each has grown to be 4 to 5 feet tall.  And being an annual plant, they reseed. I was lucky to have even more plants the next year.

The fragrance of “sweet Annie” brings back memories of the good old days, but it has become really hard to find. Among the many wonderful uses for Sweet Annie:

— In a bouquet.

— As a terrific addition in a dried flower arrangement.
— Tucked among pine cones on a wreath.

— As a swag made totally of this herb. 

— A branch of Sweet Annie tied with a ribbon on a gift.

The uses of this herb are limited only by your imagination. So grow Sweet Annie and enjoy nature’s bounty.
One of my friends, Helen Cassidy from Denton, messaged me last winter to ask if I had any Sweet Annie seeds and I told her “better yet, I’d share some plants with her as soon as I saw them coming up. Now that I have little plants that spring up in the cracks in the driveway and around my greenhouse, I’m always ready to share small plants.  

This year, Helen has kept me updated on the growth of those tiny plants that I shared, and at the latest report they were almost 5 feet tall. So I know she is planning to cut some to dry, maybe not to make a wreath, but I know she’s enjoying watching her Sweet Annie grow as much as I have mine.

And another thing, it’s given me a new friend who enjoys plants and is really enjoying reading the Randolph HUB cover to cover (even though she lives in Davidson County!).