August 2015
The Herb Lady

How I Got Involved in Herbs

The story I am about to write has been told many times. However, this is the first time it has been written. I’m writing this to answer the often-asked question, "How did you become involved with herbs?"

In late 1983, I became aware of a voice in my head that only I could hear. "Build a greenhouse and grow herbs." "Build a greenhouse and grow herbs." "Build a greenhouse and grow herbs." "Build a greenhouse and grow herbs." This clear message was there 24 hours a day. No one could hear it but me. It didn’t interfere with my everyday life in any way.

I told Richard, my husband, about the voice. At the time, he had very little to say. Time passed. One morning he stood up from the breakfast table and announced, "Now we will build the greenhouse." He realized where my voice had come from.

The greenhouse was built. I began to gather knowledge and plant seed. (One day I became aware that my voice had quietly disappeared.) Most of the seeds and plants had to be purchased from a mail-order source. Over a period of a few years, I probably grew over 200 different herbs.

I was already writing human interest stories that were being published in several small newspapers. My writing continued and gradually herbs became the general topic.

In 1990, Richard and I moved from Baldwin County back to our native Pike County and resided in Goshen. The greenhouse had served its purpose and was left behind. My new backyard became a very large herb garden which was visited by many.

A conversation with the manager of Southern Home and Gardens in Montgomery revealed the fact that I was an herbalist and a writer. Through him, I was soon contacted by Elizabeth Via Brown (The Home and Garden editor of The Montgomery Advertiser at that time) and I became the herb correspondent for that publication.

Several years later, new ownership of that publication ended our long and positive association. One door was closed. Another door opened. Soon my column began to appear in AFC Cooperative Farming News. (Mike Thomas of Goshen Farmers Co-op introduced me to Jim Allen, editor of the publication.)

In the 1990s, Richard’s illness began to demand my duties as wife, nurse and caretaker. His care came ahead of all my other involvements. Soon undesirable plants took over my much enjoyed, large, wonderful, fragrant herb garden. The area was mowed. My gardening days were over.

Another door opened. My large, enclosed front porch became an herb shop. I continued writing.

In 2006, Richard’s long illness ended and I became a widow.

In 2011, I moved back to Baldwin County to be near my children for the rest of my days. The spare bedroom in my apartment became, and continues to be, my office and herb shop.

I was very involved during the period when dried crafts arrangements were popular. I grew flowers and herbs. I gathered much material from the wild. I dried this and made many creations.

Along the way, some newspaper columnist referred to me as an "herb doctor." I am not a doctor and did not like being given that title. Somewhere along the line, another columnist dubbed me "The Herb Lady," a title I did appreciate.

I was a charter member of three herb societies: The Gulf Coast Herb Society in Mobile, The Old Alabama Town Herb Society in Montgomery and The Pike Pioneer Herb Society in Troy. I have been a member of The Herb Society of America.

When GOD gives us a command, HE makes sure we have no doubt of its origin. As nearly as possible, I have followed HIS directions.

Nadine Johnson can be reached at PO Box 7425, Spanish Fort, AL 36577, by calling 866-570-7302, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..