I made my second annual pilgrimage to the place of all things herbal, Companion Plants http://www.companionplants.com a bit south of Athens, OH and thanks to Peter and his staff, I brought home a haul to add to my herb garden…some of these plants are annuals and will leave me at the first frost, but many that I have purchased in the last two years come back year after year.
Herbs are fascinating to me, they flavor our food, have beneficial effects when taking in our food as seasoning, much of western and eastern medicine is based on herbs as well as all folk medicine is herbal based.
The plants I purchased this year are:
Angelica: Aromatic, stimulant, and carminative; it stimulates the appetite, digestive secretions, and peristalsis
Orris Root: In addition to the pleasant scent of the flowers the root has the valuable quality of serving as a fixative for other aromas in sachets and potpourris, thus preventing them from fading with the passage of time.
Bay Laurel: In warm climates this will grow to a 40′ tree; in the north it must be grown as a tub plant. This plant is the source of the bay leaves used in cooking.
Heal All: Used as an astringent, styptic, and tonic.
Bone Set: used by some North American Indian tribes and lay herbal doctors for its properties as a febrifuge, laxative, stimulant, and diaphoretic.
Lemon Verbena: Aromatic and flavorful herb, lemon verbena makes a great tea and potpourri plant – leaves rubbed on oneself will repel mosquitoes. I like to make syrups with simple sugar to flavor summer cocktails
Basil: A classic Italian favorite and a perennial staple in my garden (perennial that I plant it every year
Dill: The classic culinary staple for fish, potatoes and much more
Calendula: Bright yellow cheerful flowers on a self seeding annual. Tinctures and oils made from the flowers are soothing to skin irritations and antiseptic
Blue Vervain: The multitudes of tiny blue flowers make this a very attractive addition to the garden; it’s a popular element in wildflower seed mixes. An extract of the dried leaves has been used as a tonic, emetic, and expectorant. It has been used to treat tension, depression, and hysteria….and it attracts butterflies to boot!
Valerian: Strongly scented masses of white to pink flowers. Formerly used to manufacture sedative tinctures, now one of the top 10 best selling botanicals in the world. It is used to treat anxiety, insomnia, stress, muscle spasms, and to lower high blood pressure. The oil is used in perfumery, extracts are used in flavoring ice cream, condiments, soft drinks, liqueurs, and tobacco.
Foxglove (Digitalis): The many bell-shaped, spotted purple flowers appear on a tall spike in the second year of growth. This plant likes fairly rich soil. A leaf extract was once used to treat heart problems and is still a commercial source of digitalis, but is NOT suitable for self-medication
French Tarragon: The delicious anise flavored herb so prevalent in fine French cuisine, I like to make mayonnaise and add a little tarragon for extra flavor for summertime sandwiches
Horehound: The fuzzy leaves and stems are used to make horehound candy, which is about the only form in which it is palatable. I like to make cough drops with it because as an expectorant , it is useful to treat coughs, sore throats and colds.
Since our weather has gone back to early spring/late winter conditions, I will hold on to these plants a few more days before I get them into the ground, but once established, they will add depth, interest and usefulness to my herb garden!