As Deb has suggested, I am starting a new thread! To ask - What are the herbs you couldn't do without, both medicinal and culinary?
To explain - I have replied to Deb's post on "New year, new content" about a Year in the Herb Garden, saying that I'm starting my herb garden from scratch. I have a plot about 15'x4' in which is a solitary silver spires lavender branch, and a bit of borage. I have a separate area in the garden which is very narrow, but which I could plant up with herbs, and I also have an old rosemary and an old sage bush elsewhere in the garden. And I want to grow what I will need!
In answer to Sarah's reply under that thread, I do live near riverbanks/parks/open spaces, but I'm not sure I would be totally happy in my ability to identify plants correctly, apart from nettles, and wouldn't want to poison myself! I walk past loads of what I think are elder bushes each day with my dogs, but I'm reluctant to pick the berries in case they're not.
And while I'm posting, can I just thank Jenny Jones for her detox article - really enjoyed it, and looking forward to the next one.
Thank you to everyone who is helping to make this forum an exciting place to visit nowadays.
This is a toughy, as I said earlier I'd be saying all of them lol! Herbs I simply couldn't be without are rosemary, lavender, bay, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, lemon balm, mint (several types so you can do different things with them medicinally and in the kitchen), sage (same as mint), chives, calendula, chamomile, fennel and basil. To them I'd add myrtle, roses, skullcap, valerian, passionflower, marshmallow, echinacea and meadowsweet. That all depends though on your soil conditions, the type of garden you have, shady, dry etc and how much space you have.
There are other things I wouldn't be without, garlic chives, jasmine, honeysuckle, pinks, sweet cicely, sweet rocket, hyssop, bergamot, winter savory, dill and scented geraniums. In my small garden I try to grow as many different types of herbs as possible. I have a fig tree in a huge pot and yesterday bought a cranberry bush and a pomegranate bush to put in the new area I'm planning to add this year. There is a small greengage tree and a small apple tree as well for structure. I even have herbs growing in our small pond where I have calamus root, bogbean, watercress and meadowsweet growing.
Thanks to Sarah, this year I'll be making more use of the herbs I grow medicinally, until now I've used herbs in the kitchen and for making pot pourri and other home scented goodies. Sarah has given me the inspiration and confidence to make homemade remedies from what I've learned at her workshops.
I started off with the intention of having a central medieval herb bed, but the plan changed, and I just put herbs in wherever a space appeared. You really do need to decide what you want to grow, if you want a theme and do you want your herb garden to have any winter interest, make some sketches first and don't forget to take height and spread into account. We're here if you need to ask anymore questions. If you haven't got Jekka's new book I'd suggest you get a copy. It tells you everything you need to know and more besides. Hope that helps?
'Must grow herbs'
January 8 2008, 10:52 PM
When I was teaching, one of my students asked what ten herbs I would need to have in my dispesary to treat all ills.
The list went something like this.
Peppermint - digestive, antispasmodic.
Lemon balm - digestive, relaxing,good for nervous headaches, uplifting.
Use to make creams
Verbena - Liver tonic, wonderful relaxant, energetically good for women.Antidepressant
Marigold - antiseptic, liver cleanser, immune enhancer, all round good herb. Use to make creams
Red clover - Estrogenic to help with female repro. problems. Excellent for childrens skin conditions (and adults too). Use to make creams
Nettle - Anti-histamine, good for the blood, Excellent kidney tonic. Also lifts the spirits. ( To much histamin is thought to play a part in depression).
Sage - Upper respiratory tract infections. Hot flushes. Antiseptic.
Dandelion - Kidney (leaf) Liver (root) tonic.
Lavender - relaxing, good for arthritic pain. Use to make creams.
Hawthorn - the heart herb.
All, except pehaps verbena, can be used as food.
Actually ten is a little short, but it was an interesting exercise all the same.
Sue, must grow herbs
January 17 2008, 6:59 PM
If you can obtain a copy of "The concise British Flora in Colour by W.Keeble Martin and The Wild Flower Key by Francis Rose, then you could identify what is growing near you, away from traffic fumes etc which you could collect and use. Elderberry flowers and berries are so useful for winter chills, colds and chest problems, but they take up too much space for you. You could then concentrate on herbs, not available to you, but would be an addition to your medicinal chest. Also consider what complaints you and family have, then select appropiate herbs.
Check out you nearest botanical garden or herbalist who may be willing to take you on a herb walk or identify your specimens.
Good Luck Angela
January 18 2008, 2:23 PM
Thanks very much for your reply. I have just gone on Ebay and managed to pick up a copy of "The concise British Flora in Colour" very cheaply, so thanks for the tip. I've also got Jekka McVicar's new book coming (thanks Deb for that tip), so I hope to get down to some serious reading soon. It's rather good fun comparing prices on Amazon 2nd hand, and Ebay - you can pick up some amazing bargains! After reading the thread on people's preferred books, I've also got hold of Matthew Wood's "the book of Herbal wisdom" from ebay for next to nothing.
Re: Thank you
January 21 2008, 8:55 AM
I concur with Angela "The Wild Flower Key" is a brilliant book to get your hands on, not exactly pocket sized, although it is portable. As lots of wild flowers are actually herbs and not listed in most herb books it makes sense to have wildflower books to hand.
Wild Flowers Of Britain And Ireland by Rae Spencer-Jones and Sarah Cuttle ISBN 1-85626-503-X is another excellent choice, wonderful photographs that make it easy to identify the plants. It's £25 but I picked mine up for £5.99, its rather a large book so definately not something you can carry out and about with you. Actually I have a list of 'field guide' type books that would be good for beginners, so I'll post them under a seperate thread.
Hope you like the Jekka book when it arrives Sue! I wouldn't be without mine
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