Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Plantago lanceolata, the strength of the sword and the beauty of an angel.

I realise that I may have become a little obsessed/over enthusiastic about Dandelions just recently,
so I’m moving on.

There are so many herbal goodies bursting out of the hedgerow at the moment it’s difficult to know where to begin. Having said that, I’ve noticed that Ribwort plantain or Plantago lanceolata is strutting it’s stuff spectacularly well today.

Most plants are lush at the moment due to all the rain so the Plantain leaves are fresh and extremely green. The sword shaped leaves of this architectural little plant have deep ribs running length ways, hence ribwort. The darkest brown mouse like flower heads,  will become more oblong and a softer brown later in the summer. With pale yellow anthers dancing round it, giving this angel of a plant a halo. I have always thought of this herb as an angel.

Like the Dandelion, this little plant has It has both structure and beauty and could look great in a terracotta pot! 

Ribwort plantain showing off his ribs!

Medicinal uses 

Plantago is a famous wound healing herb. It has antiseptic and astringent qualities, so an infusion of leaves used as a wash for cuts and grazes helps to stop bleeding and clean the injury, great in the first aid box. Fresh leaves can be bruised (or chewed) and applied to a cut or an insect bite for instant relief.

Plantago is a wonderful cool and soothing remedy. Used for irritable or sore respiratory and digestive systems, this herb helps an irritable bowel, bronchitis and even toothache.

I have a huge respect for this amazing healing herb.
Both strength and beauty in large portions.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Medicinal Herb Garden - The Herbs

Last time I mentioned some of the herbs to be included in the medicinal garden, we now need to look a bit deeper into why and how these herbs can be of benefit.

The herbs will be used in different ways, infusions, tinctures, infused oils and we will go into the methods of making these once the construction of the garden is underway. So in no particular order of preference or importance here are some of the perennial herbs for the garden, with the annuals and short lived perennials tackled next time.
Let’s start with Sage.

Salvia officinalis

Sage is multi-talented. Not only will sage help support us through winter coughs and colds by strengthening our immune systems, it will help calm any anxiety and nervousness. An infusion of Sage leaves used as a gargle will ease a sore throat and taken as a ‘cool’ drink rather than hot it will help to reduce menopausal hot sweats. 
Sage also helps poor memory and mental confusion – so that’s me sorted then!

Sage likes a sunny position and a light/well drained soil.

Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosemary is an uplifting wonderfully aromatic herb, which will help with headaches, exam stress and memory recall as well a cold sluggish digestion. An Infusion of the leaves in olive oil (we will make a Rosemary infused oil in a few weeks) will help aching muscles from too much cricket and an infusion in boiled water will make a refreshing, uplifting cuppa and also a scalp stimulating rinse for dark hair.

Rosemary likes to have her head in the sunshine and a sandy/well drained soil around her roots.

Thymus vulgaris

Extremely anti bacterial, anti viral, antiseptic, it’s anti everything! Great for chest infections and coughs. Infused in honey and possibly combined with Liquorice you have a fantastic cough syrup. Recent research gives evidence that Thyme will help with problem skin.

Another sun lover, Thyme likes a bit of gravely soil to sit in.

Melissa officinalis

Fresh Lemon balm tea is a real delight. Delicate and light it lifts the spirits and soothes emotional ups and downs. On a hot summers day you can add ice cubes for a cooling, refreshing drink. Lemon balm relaxes and calms the nervous system, and is especially good for anxiety that effects the digestive system and which also causes palpitations.

Lemon balm likes a good deep root run and sunshine.

Hyssopus officinalis

Hyssop is warming, relaxing and cleansing herb. It helps to clear coughs and sore throats but also the herbs bitter qualities aids digestion. A cup of Hyssop in the evening will help sweeten dreams.

Although Hyssop likes the sun she will take a little shade too.


Hypericum perforatum

St John’s wort is an incredible healing herb. The golden yellow flowering tips are used and can be made into a variety of helpful things. St John’s wort is anti viral, anti bacterial and anti haemorrhagic so great for cuts and grazes, even cold sores. Used as a tincture St John helps depression. In this garden the flowers will be used to make an infused oil which can be made into an healing ointment or a cream.

St John's wort likes a sheltered spot with lots of sunshine.

Both Lemon balm and St John’s wort will need some serious harvesting. They just love to grow and could invade and conquer!

The soil condition

Having made a start on the digging I think the soil needs a little help. This particular patch has been hidden under grass for at least the last fifteen years so needs some compost and horticultural grit digging in. This will improve the quality and drainage of the earth, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme all like a bit of good drainage, they don't like sitting in waterlogged ground.

More on the annuals and short lived perennial herbs next time.
Have you thought of making a medicinal herb garden?

Have fun


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Medicinal garden or cricket wicket?

Having asked the opinions of my nearest and dearest, what seems apparent is they would be more interested if I announced I was building a cricket wicket rather than a herb garden!

This doesn't put me off or surprise me really, so I shall press on with my plans to make a medicinal herb garden as it feels like I've spent far too much time in the thinking stage and now need to get on with the doing stage.

The herbs in this garden need to have benefit for all the family. As a whole we need herbs to help with general stress and relaxation, sensitive digestive issues and hormonal uprisings! So what has emerged is a list of perennial and annual herbs that make up a 'prescription garden'.

A very rough idea - perennials like Rosemary and Sage on the left
and annuals like Marigold and Chamomile on the right.

This small circular space needs a simple design with an element of all year round structure. So having dismissed a formal knot garden and various star and spiral designs, I've opted for a smaller circle within the circular shape which forms an internal crescent. 

St Johns Wort - Hypericum perforatum
Within the smaller circle there will be structural herbs like Rosemary, Sage and Lavender and also softer herbs like Marshmallow,  St Johns Wort and Lady's mantle. Around the edge of the large circle will be the great and glorious Thyme.

Beautiful Borage - Borago officinalis
Within the crescent shape will be annuals and bi-annuals like Chamomile, Marigold, Borage and Hyssop - so far, there could be others. The crescent can evolve through the year from the glorious blues and yellows of the summer annuals to the cheerful smiling faces of Violas and Pansies in the winter months.   

In the next installment I will give more detail on the herbs and their medicinal qualities, how to get the best out of them. There also has to be a certain amount of hard graft to prepare the soil for planting and of course the good bit, which is finding and planting the herbs.

Have fun