This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I should like to call attention to the vanilla grass, as it is known but in few localities, having been modestly kept in the background too long for general good.
The seed was gathered in a wild field on the coast of the Sea of Marmora, a few miles from the village of San Stefano in Turkey, by Dr. Jas. B. Davis, of South Carolina. Upon his return home, he planted the seed and it came up readily, seeded well, and could be rapidly propagated by division of the roots. It makes a fine grass for borders and grass plots in flower yards, both for its fresh, tender, green blades, and for its delicious fragrance.
A friend of mine had a large field for the cultivation of grasses, and he stated that when he turned his cattle into the field they always "made a rush" for the Vanilla grass in preference to all others, 1 have not been so situated myself as to use it for anything but a border and kitchen-garden grass.
The blades when slightly touched emit a delightful vanilla perfume. Gathered and strewn in among bed linen, they lend a clean, wholesome odor that ranks next to lavendered sheets. Laid in with woolen garments it is a fine preventive against moths.
A bunch of it tied up in muslin and boiled in milk to be used for custard, blanc mange, creams and Charlotte russe, will give a flavor that cannot be told from the vanilla bean itself. I used it in this way for years and can testify to its merits for flavoring. There is no reason why every woman should not have a small bed of this grass for cooking purposes, and for use in the linen chest and among blankets and other woolens.
I should think it might be used in the manufacture of vanilla extract.
It is a dainty grass for small bouquets, and its vanilla fragrance combines well with the delicate perfume of violets, geranium leaves, pan-sies, etc. I have used its tender blades in this way frequently, and always with good effect. I hope this grass will receive the attention it deserves.
[While traveling along the French Broad river in North Carolina last year, at a stopping place for the night the hostess, showing the writer her floral treasures, had among the richest the "Vanilla grass." for the seed of which she had paid a good price. The good points were as represented by our correspondent. The only regret was that she should have been led to pay for it a "good price," for it was only the common sweet vernal grass, Anthoxanthemum odoratum. common in low grounds in the North. We are also sorry to learn that there is a good demand in the North for the grass in order to "get a good price" for it under the new name of "Vanilla grass." - Ed. G. M.]