Thirty years ago, herbs were mainly the subject of arcane books or grown only in the backyard of herbal enthusiasts for their own table. That was before a local herb enthusiast, Mrs. Lane Furneaux, convinced the Preston Royal shopping center to hold a seven-day “Fresh Herb Celebration,” the first of its kind in Dallas. The event was wildly successful and fresh herbs become available almost overnight for purchase at grocery stores and local nurseries throughout the Metroplex.
Furneaux was the ideal person to bring a taste for herbs to Dallas. She and her husband had traveled the world, allowing her to experience exotic and flavorful recipes, which—she learned from various chefs—were flavored with herbs. Her interest in herbs grew through diligent study of the history of each plant.
“My initial interest in herbs was for their use in cooking,” said Furneaux, now a resident at Edgemere senior living community in Dallas. “I wanted my food to taste better to me as well as for my guests. Little did I know the many uses herbs provide. They cater to all five senses—even hearing.”
Furneaux’s interest in herbs quickly grew to a hobby and soon she was growing and tending to her own herb garden. In 1980, due to the general lack of knowledge regarding herbs, Furneaux wrote a book, Heavenly Herbs, detailing the various uses and recipes for herbs. The book was a global success, having been sold in all seven continents, and is considered to be a classic on the topics of herbs.
“These plants can teach you how to save time and money, as well as be creative,” expressed Furneaux. “One can get so much enjoyment from herbs as long as they are willing to take the time to study and work with them. My dying desire is that more people will experience the magic of herbs.”
Most people still know very little about herbs and so are unaware of the meanings each herb encompasses. However, Furneaux’s book details many herbs and their historic symbolisms. For example, basil is for good wishes, dill is for protection, fennel is for success, lavender is for luck, sage is for wisdom and good health and thyme is for courage.
Now considered a true herbalist, Furneaux also has special talent in creating tusssie-mussies, a combination of herbs gathered into nosegays to convey a wide variety of sentiments. For example, a fun-friendship tussie-mussie contains honeysuckle (gentleness), oak leaf geranium (true friendship), peppermint (warmth of feeling), and rose (love). Tussie-mussies can be designed for any occasion, and can include as little as two herbs to as many as 40. While most of Furneaux’s creations are for local friends and family, she has assembled the herbal creations for the English royal family and Nancy Reagan.
Furneaux remains very passionate about the continued teaching of herbal history and usage to grown-ups as well as children. However, today’s education system has little, if any, learning opportunities for students to gain more knowledge about herbs. Furneaux would someday like to see classes offered which focus on the history of herbs and all of their uses. In the meantime, she will continue to be a passionate advocate for herbs from her home at Edgemere.
With 304 independent living apartment homes, 60 assisted living suites, 31 memory care private apartments, and 72 private rooms for dignified skilled nursing, Edgemere is the largest and most comprehensive life care senior living community in Dallas. The community is located in the Preston Hollow/Park Cities area at 8523 Thackery Street at Northwest Highway, Dallas, Texas 75225. The Plaza Health Services at Edgemere located on the same campus at 8502 Edgemere Road at Northwest Highway, offers assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory support services for Edgemere life care residents, as well as for others in the community.
Edgemere is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit senior living community sponsored by Senior Quality Lifestyles Corporation (SQLC), a Texas-based nonprofit organization that sponsors sister communities The Buckingham in Houston, Querencia at Barton Creek in Austin, The Stayton at Museum Way under construction in Fort Worth, and Mirador under construction in Corpus Christi. For information, visit www.edgemeredallas.com, or call (469) 619-0825.