Wednesday, June 27, 2007

herbs and stuff

English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia. Look how attractive it is to butterflies! 'nough said.

Golden lemon thyme, Thymus x citriodorus 'Aureus', a gold-variegated form has a strong lemon scent.

Mother-of-thyme, Thymus pulegioides (T. serpyllum), a ground cover that perfumes the air when trod upon, wild thyme can be used in cooking and aids in clearing mucous congestion.
Absinthe, Artemisia absinthium, now illegal in some places probably because it has the reputation of causing madness, the extremely bitter absinthe leaves have been used flavor absinthe, vermouth and other liquers. The dissolution and madness portrayed by such famous painters as Degas were probably just as likely due to the residue metals in Parisian water, the 100 proof alcohol used to produce absinthe, or the unscrupulous use of additives to produce the famous green colour of absinthe. Absinthe stimulates the appetite, improves digestion and is one of the oldest known remedies for worms.

Siberian motherwort, Leonurus sibiricus; naturalized from Europe, motherwort is used as a vasodilator, diuretic and to relieve menstrual disorders.

Common mullein, Verbascum thapsus, (clary sage and lovage in the background )the erect, woolly stem with tightly packed yellow blooms on the flowering spike, rises from a rosette of thick, velvety basal leaves the second year. Common now in fields, roadsides and waste places in North America, mullein is a biennial introduced from Europe. All parts of the plant have uses, from the stalks dipped in grease for use as torches, the leaves used in moccasins or stockings to keep out the cold, to all parts used to produce yellow, bronze or grey dyes. Teas made from the leaves, flowers or roots are variously used as remedies for coughs, hoarseness, bronchitis, earaches and croup.

Satolina, Santolina chamaecyparissus, often seen in knot gardens or as low hedging, dried santolina flowers can be used in floral arrangements, or hung in bunches in closets to repel moths. The leaf oils are extracted for the perfume industry.

Ox-eye daisy, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, the familiar wildflower of waste places, meadows, pastures and roadsides was introduced to North America from Europe. It can be employed to relieve chronic cough, asthma and nervous excitability.

Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, decorative and a prolific self-seeder, feverfew leaves in tea or even a few in a salad or sandwich are said to reduce the number and severity of migraines in some sufferers. It also reduces tension, gives a sense of well-being and provides some relief from arthritis.
Clary sage, Salvia sclarea: the attractive aromatic flowers are on a handsome sized plant. Collect the seeds. Soak the seeds in water to make a mucilaginous eye bath which safely removes foreign particles from the eye.

Lemon balm, Melissa officinalis, is an herb with a delightful lemon scent. The tea made from the dried leaves is said to stimulate the heart, calm the nerves, and is also effective against herpes. Fresh chopped leaves are interesting in green salads, salads made with mild beans like canneloni, added at the last minute to soups, or to season chicken or fish.

From left to right: lemon balm, Melissa officinalis, wonderful dried and used alone or in herbal tea blends; lovage, Levisticum officinale, the leaves with a relatively strong flavor reminiscent of celery can be used to flavor soups, stews and casseroles; carnation, Dianthus; clary sage, Salvia sclarea; French tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus sativa, the well-known culinary herb, suggestive of anise or licorice, used in such famous sauces as bearnaise, hollandaise and mousseline, lovely as the basis of a vinegar to flavor salads, or in butter over steamed vegetables and intrigueing in omelets, marinated meats or poultry stuffing. In the foreground, volunteer cilantro, Coriandrum sativum, its pungent, citrusy leaves a favorite in South Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American cuisine, the seeds used to add a fresh, spicy flavour to soups, stews, chili sauces, and curries.

French tarragon.

Ooops. The idea was to capture a photo of the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars which were busy stripping the leaves of my lovage (Levisticum officinale) plant. But, I have missed them and they are probably in the chrysalis form now. I searched but could not find the chrysalis. My lovage towers way over my head, the flower heads resembling dill flowers.



Blogger Larry said...

I enjoyed your pictorial and verbal garden tour!

11:46 a.m.  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Is that really artemisia absynthium? I have never been able to find it here, but it is lovely. Very lovely.

I love the lovage, myself, as I'm too lazy to go through the whole blanching thing with celery and it's a good substitute flavor-wise. But I've never noticed swallowtail cats on mine. (The bronze fennel, yes, the lovage, no.) Maybe I need to look more closely!

10:28 p.m.  
Blogger Kati said...

Kim, try Richters. They are online and will ship to the US. The swallowtails probably went for my lovage because it's seriously THERE, whereas the dill and fennel are too small and insignificant still in my garden. Swallowtails apparently also go for parsley.

10:06 a.m.  
Blogger Randa said...

Kati, do you use your herbs extensively? Or do you find they take more of a 'for the beauty of them' role?

I feel guilty if I don't use up a lot of the herbs that grow in my I'm letting food go to waste...

3:09 p.m.  
Anonymous do pheromones work said...

Never heard about this Mother-of-thyme that makes it perfumes the air. Will check more about this. Thanks for the post. :)


12:49 a.m.  

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