Two Lincoln-area ‘herb enthusiasts’ help add sensory garden for kids at Beatrice Public Library

Two Lincoln-area ‘herb enthusiasts’ help add sensory garden for kids at Beatrice Public Library
Jill Kuhel (left) and Sharon Ohmberger (right) have known each other nearly 30 years. Their love of gardening, particularly herbs and wild edibles, has kept their friendship growing strong.

BEATRICE – Sharon Ohmberger and Jill Kuhel met in 1990 when working at Nebraska Nursery and Color Gardens in Lincoln.

“I was pregnant with my daughter,” Kuhel said, “and (Sharon) took over for me when I gave birth.”

The two lost touch for a little while, but have since reconnected over their love of plants.

“(Jill) is a consummate gardener,” Ohmberger said. “I’m kind of a gardener wanna-be. I read a lot, and do a lot of research and experiment with a lot of these herbs.”

Since 2016, Jill and Sharon have traveled around Nebraska, teaching the young and old about the many different uses of herbs, making recent stops in Columbus, Lincoln and York.

On Tuesday afternoon, they stopped by the Beatrice Public Library to help add a “sensory garden” to the children’s pollinator garden located near the back side of the library building.

“The idea here was to develop different ideas for a sensory garden,” Kuhel said. “We were just focusing on what things were pleasing that they could touch and eat, and that were safe for kids to have around. You want them to be able to be free to roam around and do what they like.”

Kuhel and Ohmberger brought a wide variety of herbs to show kids at Beatrice Public Library Tuesday.

A sensory garden is one that’s designed with the purpose of stimulating the senses. After the children got to smell, and taste, the wide variety of plants Tuesday, Ohmberger and Kuhel helped them build a mini fountain in the garden. A feature for the hearing senses.

Ohmberger and Kuhel aren’t professional gardeners or anything. Kuhel is a transportation planner for the state of Nebraska, while Ohmberger serves as communications director for Disability Rights Nebraska.

But, they grew up around gardening, and that love of plants just never left.

“We just want to spread the good word about herbs,” Ohmberger said. “It’s sharing a personal interest, and trying to get another generation interested in plants.”

On Tuesday evening, Jill and Sharon returned to the library to showcase an herbal tea garden, with a variety of samples available.

“We just want to share that with people, because there’s a lot of interesting stories that go with the uses of teas.”

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.

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