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Title: Herbal and Floral Gardening
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Registered: 11/21/2008

(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:19 AM)
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Here is where you will find articles about Herbal and Floral Gardening.

Here is a door to begin your very own herb garden!!

MANY of the plants we grow such as annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees are herbs in the true sense of the word. With increased interest in recent years in continental or gourmet cooking the word "herb" is nearly always thought of by home gardeners to mean the "culinary" herb.

The Herb Garden

The herbs I have grown are listed below with instructions for growing them. Perhaps inexperienced gardeners as well as those who have not yet had the pleasure of growing these interesting plants will give some thought to starting a small herb garden. Even a small plot 4 by 6 feet will grow all a small family would need. If not grown for use in cooking, herbs are worth growing for pleasant aromatic foliage and some of them for the beauty of the flowers as well. Herbs can be used fresh for garnish in salads and to perk up the flavors of bland vegetables or to add flavor to meats and stews in which case one needs only to nip off a few leaves when wanted.

To dry herbs for winter use cut off tops of the leafy varieties in midsummer and wash them off with cold water. Hang them up just long enough for the drops of water to evaporate, then tie the stems together and place in a paper bag with stem ends at the opening and close the bag with a rubber band. Use a paper clip as a hook through the band and place the other hooked end over your line where you are going to hang the herbs to dry, indoors. After 2 or 3 weeks remove from paper bags, crumble the leaves and place on a shallow pan and dry out in the oven with the setting at "warm" or at least not over 100 degrees. Some herb enthusiasts dry them by spreading them out on trays or sheets of hardware cloth covered with cheese cloth and place in a dry area. To dry seed heads allow them to grow until seeds are mature and ready to drop from the plant. Cut seed heads on a very dry day and spread on clean paper (not newspaper). It is better to keep them in the sun the first day as little insects, which may have been secreted in the heads, will leave as the seeds dry out. Store herbs in glass jars or other airtight containers in a cool place.


BASIL, SWEET (Ocimum basilicum) Both green and 'Dark Opal' basil are attractive plants for the garden. I prefer to plant the seed where it is to grow directly to -the garden in mid-May. Germination usually occurs in 7 to 10 days. Basil is not difficult to transplant. Grows to 18 inches; space 12 inches between plants. 'Dark Opal' has beautiful deep red foliage and lovely pink flowers and is excellent to use along a walk or as a solid bed for decoration in the garden. Basil is very good to use to flavor tomato juice and tomato pastes.

BORAGE (Borago officinalis) This has pinkish blossoms which turn blue like the perennial pulmonaria. It is an annual and should be planted directly to the garden in early May in the North. Growing to 2 feet it should be spaced 10 inches apart. Germinates in 7 -to 10 days. Resents transplanting except when quite small. It is excellent used in tossed salad to add a most elusive flavor.

CHERVIL (Anthriscus cerefolium) Although this plant will germinate in the fall and live over the winter I would advise the inexperienced gardener to grow it as an annual, sowing the seed to the garden in mid-May (in this area). Grows to 2 feet and should be spaced 8 inches apart. Grows quickly and is mature in 6 weeks. Resents transplanting. Fresh leaves can be frozen in small packets after washing carefully. Excellent to flavor egg dishes.

CHIVES (Allium scboenoprasum) This is a perennial plant growing from bulblets. They are really very easy to grow from seed. Mine, started under the fluorescent lights as well as in the greenhouse in the spring germinated in 10 days. The tiny little plants look like fragile spears of grass. When transplanted they wilt slightly. Even during a continued drought they grow very well. Mature plants grow to 12, inches; space 6 inches apart. They are very hardy even in cold locations. Flowers are pretty enough so that chives can be grown as a border or in the rock garden. Fine in salads, egg dishes and sauces of all kinds. Potted up, chives will grow on a sunny windowsill in winter.

DILL (Anethum graveolens) This is an easily grown annual with feathery foliage. Blossoms are tiny and pale yellow. Grows to 21/2 feet in my garden and germinates in 7 to 10 days planted at the same time as tender vegetables. Resents transplanting. May be spaced as close as 4 inches apart. Self-sows readily. Fine for use in pickling and to flavor meats.

LAVENDER (Lavandula). I have had excellent success with germinating seeds of lavender giving a four-week pre-chilling period in the coldframe before bringing into the greenhouse with germination in 14 days. This year sown under the lights the seeds germinated in 15 days with no pre-chilling period. This is a hardy perennial with gray foliage and spikes of fragrant lavender flowers, which when dried are used to perfume the linen chest and for sachets. Dry easily when hung free in a dry garage or attic.

MARJORAM, SWEET (Majorana hortensis) This is a perennial in frost-free sections of the South but is grown as a hardy annual in the North. Sow seed indoors with germination in 7 to 10 days. Grows to 12 inches; space 6 inches apart. Plants may be potted up and grown in the greenhouse or sunny window over -the winter. Adds a delicate flavor to lamb, fish, salads and soups.

MINT (Mentha spicata) This mint is very easy to grow. It is a hardy perennial and spreads by root stolons. Sown indoors seed germinates in 10 to 15 days. It grows to 2 feet and is rather sprawling, in habit. Space 12 inches apart. Is at its best in good rich soil. Fine to use for mint jelly and in mint juleps, lemonade and other fruit drinks.

SAGE (Saivia officinalis) This is a hardy perennial in our location and is often grown in gardens for its pretty foliage and spikes of bluish flowers. Seed sown indoors germinates in 14 days. Grows to 2 feet and should be spaced 12 inches apart. Can be sown outdoors in May with germination in 21 to 30 days. Fine herb for dressings for chicken, turkey, pork and for flavoring sausages.

SAVORY, SUMMER (Satureja bortensis) This is an easily grown annual being best planted in mid-May in our location directly to the garden where it is to grow with germination in 7 to 10 days. Grows to 12 inches tall; space 5 or 6 inches apart. Good to flavor fish dishes, beans and soups.

SESAME (Sesamum orientale) This herb has whitish colored leaves and pretty pink flowers. Needs warmth for germination and should not be planted into the garden until -the soil and air are very warm; about 70 degrees. This would be in late May in our location. Germination will take place in 3 to 7 days. Although they grow 21/2 to 3 feet they need but 9 or 10 inches between plants as they do not branch. Seeds are used to flavor breads, crackers and cookies.

THYME (Thymus vulgaris) This is a hardy perennial being of somewhat shrubby growth. Leaves are cut for drying before the blossoms are open. It is easily grown from seed sown indoors with germination in 21 to 30 days. Grows slowly when young. Grows to 12. inches; space 8 inches apart. It needs rich soil. Thyme is used for flavoring soups and poultry dressing.

This isn't all you can grow, however, it is a good start...Good luck in your beginning garden...I hope this gives you a starting base.

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From: USA

RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:20 AM)

Apothecary Garden

Apothecary Gardens in History

By Tammara S. James

The idea of separating a garden into one for useful plants and another for beauty is a fairly recent innovation. Until about three hundred years ago, all plants were considered to be useful either as medicine or food, some in a practical way, others in a purely symbolic application. Even the beauty of the plants themselves was thought to be medicinal, contributing to the general health of the individual by strengthening the spirit, giving comfort to the soul, and lifting depression of the mood. One must not lose sight of this principle when approaching the medieval garden, as in a very real sense, all gardens had their origin in the physic garden.

Aside from the few basic medicinal plants grown by every housewife for the cure of common minor ills, much like we use the patented medicines of today, the bulk of the truly curative herbs were originally cultivated in the monastery gardens. Healing was, from the earliest recorded times granted the distinction of being a religious practice. Each culture of the Pagan period had its healing gods, and in evolution, one of the greatest miracles attributed to the god of the new religion was the power to heal.

The monks were, by and large a literate class of people where the greater population was not, so it is that the majority of the hard information regarding growth, plant description, and garden lists has come from them. We can assume that the gardens of the doctors and apothecaries were similar if on a much smaller scale, as the monks had greater access to plants imported from other parts of the world than the common man.

The infirmary garden of a monastery generally consisted of several raised rectangular beds with walkways between them. Most of the plants were to be found in the Emperor Charlemagne's list of medicinal herbs which formed a part of his "Capitulare de Villis" a document from the ninth century which detailed the plants he wished his gardeners' to plant on his estates and which he encouraged all of his subjects to plant for the benefit of the nation.

As society reached out of the Middle Ages into the fifteenth century, new plants were being brought back from the Americas. Master Ion Gardener wrote the practical text, "The Feate of Gardening". This was a set of instructions on cultivation, grafting, and the culture of herbs. All of the herbs listed in Master Ion's treatise were old world, and had been commonly grown all over Europe for hundreds of years. It reached beyond the folklore of plants and provided a sound scientific base for the gardener to work from.

In the sixteenth century we find the first wave of dramatic change in the gardening consciousness of Europe since the beginning of the Crusades. Prior to this there had been a limited number of herbs that had grown familiar to the herbalist through years of cultivation and use. Now we have almost daily expansion of the herbalists, as navigators and explorers carried back new seed and rootstock, along with documents containing native applications of the medicines of their lands. Most significant in this influx of new botanicals were those from the Americas.

The feeling of the time is best illustrated by a quotation from Holinshed, a historian of the sixteenth century. "It is a wonder also to see how many strange herbs, plants, and annual fruits are daily brought unto us from the Indies, Americas, Taprobane, Canary Isles and all parts of the world. I have seen in someone's garden to the number of three or four hundred of them, if not more, the half of those names within forty years past we had no manner of knowledge."

The first botanic gardens as places of study were founded in Padua Italy 1545 and in Oxford England 1621. These schools of herbalism effectively took medicine out of the hands of the monastery and placed it under the control of the educating physicians. Doctors began to lecture on the healing properties of herbs, and their reliance on leeching, or bleeding, and chemical alchemy was largely replaced by the study of the new science of herbal alchemy.

It was in the seventeenth century, following this great influx of herbs, that the largest number of herbals were published. Many of them included the New World herbs as a matter of course. Most of these books were written by doctors of medicine, but they were now leaning more heavily on the botanical properties and characteristics of plants than on the previous, almost mystical systems of humours, planetary influences, and doctrine of signatures.

Prior to this time, almost all herbals relied heavily on Dioscorides volume entitled "De Materia Medica". It required the discovery of new plants to generate original research and the development of herbal philosophy. There was still a problem in that many of these authors were writing about plants they had never seen or used. There existed popular engraving templates for the illustration of herbals, usually created by artists rather than herbalists, and often from description instead of observation. In some cases, such as John Gerard's "Great Herbal", or "History of Plants" the wrong illustration was placed in the text, confusing the reader, and the dilettante herbalist, who repeated the error in his own book.

In 1577 an herbal of an entirely new type was translated from the Spanish into English. It was written by Nicholas Monardes, and was entitled, "Joyfull Newes Out Of The Newe Founde Worlde". This book catalogued and described medicinal plants from America. Then, in 1629 and 1640 a pair of books were published that changed the entire face of herb lore. They are often considered to be the greatest English books on herbs and plants ever published. They were written by John Parkinson, and are entitled respectively, "Paradisi I Sole Paradisus Terrestris" and "Theatrum Botanicum: The Theatre of Plants". More than 3,000 plants are described in this volume, and unlike their predecessors,these books combine history, horticulture, botany, and pharmacy all in one place. Parkinson is also the first herbal author to seriously attempt botanical classification into tribes or families of plants, and into classes.

The herbals of Parkinson and Gerard went to the New World along with the settlers, and a selection of seed and rootstock for various medicinal herbs accompanied them. The ships returned to England with native North American plants to be cultivated, and studied in the European botanical colleges and gardens. The properties of many of the plants were learned from the Native Indians, which lead to the publication of John Josselyn's book, "New England's Rarities Discovered" in 1672. This book included "The Physical and Chyrurgical Remedies Wherewith The Natives Constantly Use To Cure Their Distempers, Wounds and Sores". In 1728, John Bartram founded North America's first botanic garden near Philadelphia. In 1765, he was commissioned 'Botanizer Royal For America' and began to travel and collect plants, accompanied by his son, who was a major botanical artist. It is through the labours of these two men that many North American herbs came to the attention of the Swedish Botanist Carl Linnaeus, and were classified by him.

The study of the herb garden is in itself a study in the evolution of botanical medicine and its development. In the garden lists we see not just the herbs that were known to the early doctor, but more importantly, those which were used by him.

A list of the herbs from John Bartram's garden examined in relation to the monastery garden of the ninth century gives indication of a greater range of subtlety in the mixing of possible ingredients, and a wider set of applications than those available to the lay brothers in their time. An asterick marks the New World herbs.

Melissa officinalis, Lemon Balm.

Ocimum basilicum, Sweet Basil

*Mondara didyma, Bee Balm.

*Cimicifuga racemosa, Black Cohosh.

*Eupatorium perfolatum, Boneset.

Borago officinalis, Borage.

Nepeta cataria, Catnip.

Dianthus caryophyllus, Clove Pink.

Vinca major, Periwinkle.

Symphytum officinale, Comfrey.

Digitalis purpurea, Fox Glove.

Cochlearia amoracia, Horseradish.

Pulmonaria officinalis, Lungwort.

*Lobelia siphilitica, Great Lobelia.

Calendula officinalis, Pot Marigold.

Verbascum thapsus, Mullein.

Paeonia officinalis, Peony.

Myrtus communis, Myrtle.

Hypericum perforatum, St. John's Wort.

Teucrium marum, Germander.

Galium odoratum, Sweet Woodruff.

Tanacetum vulgare, Tansy.

Artemisia dracunculus, French Tarragon.

Dipsacus fullonum, Fuller's Teasle.

*Asarum virginicum, Wild Ginger.

*Gaultheria procumbens, Wintergreen.

Acorus calamus, Sweet Flag.

Crocus sativa, Saffron Crocus.

Allium schoenoprasum, Chives.

Lonicora caprifolium, Woodbine Honeysuckle.

Rubus fruticosus, Blackberry.

*Hamamelis virginiana, Witch Hazel.

Lindera benzoin, Spice Bush.

Punica granatum, Pomegranate.

Cassia acutifolia, Alexandrian Senna.

Ilex aquifolium, English holly.

*Populus candicans, Poplar, Balm of Gilead.

*Cornus florida, Dogwood.

*Sassafras albidum, Sassafras.

Laurus nobilis, Bay laurel.

The following herbs are also to be included in this garden. Latin names can be found in the previous list:

Chamomile, Lovage, Dill, Fennel,Horehound, Hyssop, French Lavender, Pennyroyal, Mint, Rosemary, Rue, Agrimony, Sage, Thyme, Yarrow,Madonna Lily, Apothecary's Rose

It is likely that this is an optimistic list since weather conditions in Philadelphia would have made the growth of plants such as Pomegranate extremely difficult, although most of the herbs would quite handily grow there. As you can see, the majority of the herbs from the ninth century list are still included, with the many additions of the New World herbs. Today, many of these herbs are still grown for their use as pharmaceuticals and even as medicine advances into the "Modern age" it remains rooted with the herbs, in the origins of the apothecary garden.


  • John Gerard. The Herbal Or General History of Plants. Facsimile Edition Of 1633 Edition. Dover Publications NY 1975.


  • Gosta Brodin. Agnus Castus A Middle English Herbal. Reconstructed from various manuscripts. Upsalla 1950.


  • Andrew Boorde. Fyrst Boke Of The Introduction Of Knowledge. Repro Of The 1542 Edition. Early English Text Society Reprint 1964.


  • Sarah Garland. The Herb Garden. Penguin Books NY 1984.


  • Rosetta E. Clarkson. The Golden Age Of Herbs And Herbalists. Dover Publications NY 1972.


  • L. Butler & C. Given-Wilson. Medieval Monasteries Of Great Britain. Michael Joseph London 1983.


  • Nicholas Culpepper. Culpepper's Complete Herbal. W. Foulsham & Co. London.  


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    From: USA

    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:23 AM)

    The Dye Garden

    Plants used for dyes were an integral part of the garden before the invention of chemical dyes. 

     Steeped like teas, many give off a beautiful array of colors that lend themselves to dyeing almost any fabric or porous, untreated surface.  With silk and resist (a silk dyeing product) –herbs and flowers can create gorgeous designs on silk scarves, pillows and clothing.  With mordants, colors can be enhanced and change so that one plant can produce a gradient in color to work with.  The possibilities for plant dyeing are endless.

    The plants for dying are mostly rustic looking, untamed, and look beautiful planted in half barrels, wooden square or rectangular raised beds, or planter boxes hung from window or fence.  Position taller plants in the back, medium plants in the middle and stouter plants in front.  You can also position plants circular, in a barrel with the taller plants on the inside and rotating outwards from tallest to smallest.  This means that you do not have to reach over tall plants to harvest smaller ones.

    In seasonal climates, these plants can be moved indoors.

    The Plant List:

    (*   indicates my personal note is following in italics)

    Queen of the Meadow ( Filipendula ulmaria):  A perennial, to 4 feet tall, with large, bright green, lobed leaves and fragrant , white feathery plumes in June and July.  Plant on 2-foot centers. The roots yields a black dye; the leaves and stems, harvested when the plants are just coming into bloom, yield a greenish yellow with alum used as a mordant.

    Weld (Reseda luteola) A biennial, 5 feet tall in flower.  Yellow flower spikes in summer.  Plant on 2-foot centers.  The whole plant in full flower yields a lemon yellow die with alum used as a mordant; a golden yellow with chrome; and an orange with alum and tin.

    Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria) A perennial, one of the most ornamental herbs. 2 feet tall and white with aromatic leaves and masses of 2 inch yellow daisy like blooms from June through August.  Plant of 15 inch centers.  The flowers yield a yellow dye with alum used as a mordant; a gold dye with chrome.

    Marigold ( Tagetes spp.) An annual, with deep green aromatic feathery foliage and single to double yellow, gold, and orange flowers.  Some are also burgundy and rust colored.  Choose bushy plants in the 2 foot range and plant on 15 inch centers.  Summer through frost blooms.  Fresh or dried yields yellow, gold , orange, brown, gray  or green without mordant; yellow with alum.

    Lady’s Bedstraw (gallium verum) A perennial, to 3 feet tall but often creeping with whorls of narrow green leaves and small yellow flowers in panicles in July and August.  Plant of 15 inch centers The roots yield light red with alum used as a mordant; purplish red with chrome.  The flowering tops yield yellow with alum or chrome.

    Madder (Rubia tinctorium)  A perennial, to 4 feet tall but often prostrate.  Greenish yellow flowers in early summer.  Plant on 15-inch centers.  The three year old roots –dried—yield a rose-red color with alum; garnet red, orange, or rust with chrome; bright red or Turkey red(on cotton) with tin.  The fine reds of old quilts and oriental rugs were created with Madder dyes.

    Saffron (crocus sativus)  A perennial bulb, saffron is indicated by dotted lines, as it sends up 1 ½ foot long, thin, straplike leaves in spring which die in midsummer.  In September saffron bears 2 inch lilac  cup shaped flowers with bright orange stigmata.  Plant on 4-6 inch centers.  The stigmata yield yellow with alum, gold with chrome.  Because the tiny stigmata must be hand harvested in great quantities to yield dye, saffron dyes have always been the property of the elite and the stuff of legend.  * one of the great things about places like small Asian markets in that you can find products like saffron threads very cheap- not only do they use it for food but it is a popular Asian and Ayurvedic medicinal flower.  It is totally feasible to buy a good quantity of these saffron thread packets without breaking your bank from the Asian market and this will give you enough dye for silk scarves, small pillow case ect…

    Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) A perennial, domesticated varieties 1-2 feet tall(* it is my experience with this plant that it tends to be a ground creeper like thyme or oregano) with 2-3 inch lance shaped leaves and large pink blooms in panicles July through September.  Plant on 15 inch centers (* I used to plant this with my herbs because it seemed to repel bugs but it looks so similar –outside of bloom – to oregano that I accidentally picked it for meatball seasoning one day and ruined the meat batch.  It really tastes like soap!)  Soapwort is not a dye plant but is planted in the dye garden for tradition’s sake –as the roots were used to make a soapy lather in which fabric was washed before dyeing.

    Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) An annual, to 3 feet tall bushy plants with toothed leaves and striking scarlet –orange- yellow thistle shaped flowers in summer.  Plant on 2 foor centers ( you may have to stake them)  The fresh or dried flowers yield yellow with alum;red with in an alkaline solution.  It is often called ‘poor man’s saffron.’

    Goldenrod ( Solidago ‘Goldenmosa’)  A perennial to 3 feet with erect stems and handsome golden yellow plumes in August and September.   Plant of 2 foot centers.  The flowers and leaves yield yellow, gold, tan yellow-green, avocado, olive, green, bronze, brown, and khaki; yellow with alum; gold with chrome.  This much-maligned plant is not the source of hay fever (the real villain is ragweed).  It is one of the most attractive dye plants.  While Goldenmosa is suggested—try any one of the tall, domesticated varieties.* This is a plant well worth having in anyone’s garden—not only for its versatility in dyeing but because it contains so many medicinal properties that one’s herbal cupboard really cannot do without it (magically—it associated with divination and money).  This is the tall flower that can be found everywhere on roadsides and highway medians—but don’t pick it—it is illegal to do so in most if not all states where it grows—whether it grows wild or was planted by the highway depts.

    Woad  ( Isatis tinctoria) A biennial, 3 feet tall in flower, with a basal rosette of 1 foot long blue green leaves and large panicles of cloud like yellow blooms in May and June, followed by clusters of black berries that can be used in dried arrangements.  Plant on 2-foot centers.  The young leaves—picked fresh and fermented, yield blue; mature leaves treated in the same manner yield blue black; weal solutions yield green.  The only temperature –climate source of blue dye, (tropical indigo also yields blue) Woad is indisputably the most stunning dye plant in flower.  It’s also one of the most historic, having been used by the Picts of England as a styptic for battle wounds, causing them to appear in what was taken by the disconcerted Roman invaders as war paint. (*Remember William Wallace?-- The Picts were of the area north of Carlisle—which is Scotland. I make this note only to clarify that the Picts were not considered of the area, which we would normally call England, before of shortly after Roman occupation.  In fact –The Celts of England considered the Picts ‘Barbarians of the North’.  The Romans aided the Celts in keeping out the ‘war painted’ Picts by building Hadrian’s wall)

    St. John’s Wort ( Hypericum perforatum)  A perennial, to 2 feet tall, with yellow flowers in July and August. Plant on 2 foot centers.  The flowering tops yield yellow and gold; the whole plant yields yellow-green with alum; gold with chrome; bronze 4 with blue vitriol; yellow-green with iron and tin.

    Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)  An annual 6 to 36 inches tall, with opposite, spear shaped leaves and double blooms to 7 inches across with quilled , pointed petals in white, pink, orange, red, green , purple, yellow and multiples, from summer through frost.  Plant one of the 1 ½ foot cultivars on 1 foot centers; remember to choose a color or colors compatible with the reds, yellows, and golds of the rest of the bed.  The flowers yield yellow with alum; bronze with chrome; bright gold with tin; gray green with iron; khaki with blue vitriol.

    Calliopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)  An annual, 8- 48 inches tall with spindly needle like leaves and yellow, purple red, or bi color daisy like blooms summer through frost. Plant on 1 foot centers.  The fresh flowers yield bright yellow with alum; bright orange –yellow with tin; rusty orange with chrome and iron; dull rust with chrome and tin.

    Making Natural Dyes From Plants

    Did you know that a great source for natural dyes can be found right in your own back yard! Roots, nuts and flowers are just a few common natural ways to get many colors. Yellow, orange, blue, red, green, brown and grey are available. Go ahead, experiment!

    Gathering plant material for dyeing: Blossoms should be in full bloom, berries ripe and nuts mature. Remember, never gather more than 2/3 of a stand of anything in the wild when gathering plant stuff for dying.

    To make the dye solution: Chop plant material into small pieces and place in a pot. Double the amount of water to plant material. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. Strain. Now you can add your fabric to be dyed. For a stronger shade, allow material to soak in the dye overnight.

    Getting the fabric ready for the dye bath: You will have to soak the fabric in a color fixative before the dye process. This will make the color set in the fabric.

    Color Fixatives:

    Salt Fixative (for berry dyes) 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water

    Plant Fixatives (for plant dyes) 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar

    Add fabric to the fixative and simmer for an hour. Rinse the material and squeeze out excess. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear.

    Dye Bath: Place wet fabric in dye bath. Simmer together until desired color is obtained. The color of the fabric will be lighter when its dry. Also note that all dyed fabric should be laundered in cold water and separately.

    Muslin, cotton and wool work best for natural dyes and the lighter the fabric in color, the better. White or pastel colors work the best.

    NOTE: It's best to use an old pot for dyeing and wear gloves when handling the fabric that has been dyed. It will stain your hands. It's also important to note, some plant dyes may be toxic, check with the Poison Control Center if unsure.

     A listing of plant material available for dyes

    Shades Of Orange

    Shades Of  Brown
    - Sassafras (leaves)
    - Sumac (leaves)
    - Walnut (hulls)
    - Tea Bags (makes a light brown)
    - Juniper berries
    - Coffee grinds
    - Acorns (boiled)

    Shades Of Pink

    Shades Of Light Green
    - Strawberries
    - Cherries
    - Raspberries (red)
    - Lily-Of-The-Valley (leaves)

    Shades Of  Red

    Shades Of Blue - Purple
    - Dandelion (root)
    - Beets (deep red)
    - Rose (hips)
    - Red onion (skins)
    - Chokecherries
    - Madder
    - Red cabbage
    - Elderberries (lavender)
    - Grapes
    - Blueberries
    - Cherry (roots)
    - Japanese indigo (deep blue)
    - Red Cedar Root (purple)
    - Red Maple Tree (purple)(inner bark)

    Shades Of Gray - Black

    Shades Of Red - Purple
    - Iris (roots)  - Pokeweed (berries)

    Shades Of Green

    Shades Of Yellow
    - Spinach Leaves
    - Black-Eyed Susans
    - Grass
    - Nettle
    - Plantain Roots
    - Red Clover (whole blossom, leaves and stem); alum mordant; Gold.
    - Yellow cone flower (whole flower head); chrome mordant; Brass to Greeney-Brass.
    - Onion (skins)
    - Marigold (blossoms)
    - Willow (leaves)
    - Queen Anne's Lace
    - Burdock
    - Celery (leaves)
    - Golden Rod (flowers)
    - Sumac (bark)
    - Weld (bright yellow)
    - Cameleon plant (golden)
    - Osage Orange (heartwood)(shavings or sawdust)

    Shades Of Black

    Shades Of Peach
    - Sumac (leaves)
    - Broom Flower
    - Virginia Creeper (all parts); alum mordant; Peach.


    I just wanted to add to this great post  info about another product used in dyeing that will help you with design elements.
    Resist can be bought in any craft store with fabric dyes.  It is clear and comes in a squeezable bottle.  What is does is allow you to draw a design on your fabric.  When you dye the fabric-- the dye will 'resist' the area drawn and stay undyed.  This works so beautifully on silk.
    Alternatively-- you add a little dye color to the resist and then draw your design and wash the fabric -- which will then only leave the design in the color you have chose.  Or use the colored resist in one color for the design (say yellow) and dye the whole rest of the fabric another color (red).
    Have fun!
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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:24 AM)

    An Ultra Easy Medicinal Tea Herb Garden
    Easy to Grow and Easy to Use!

    This article was written around 1996, however over the years we've discovered a better, more attractive and even easier to maintain garden design. Even though this article holds the same title as the previous one, it is all new!

    This garden will provide some basic medicines, and some delicious teas. All the plants require a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight each day so keep an eye on your property to see where they would be happy. Usually an Eastern exposure will make them all happy but isn't absolutely necessary. If you find that you have more space and time, check out the Thirteen Herbs for a Witch's Cupboard page for more plants that you might enjoy living with 

    This introductory herb garden can be viewed as you would a medicine cabinet. These plants have been selected with three criteria in mind. 1) they must be extremely easy to grow and low maintenance plants and 2) they must each serve a multitude of medicinal uses and 3) they must be aesthetically pleasing.

    This garden is not intended for intense herbal medicine that would be used for treatment of serious illnesses such as liver diseases or AIDS, but is meant to provide basic remedies for the average ailment such as headaches, constipation, cold and flu symptoms, diareahh, menstral cramps, sleeplessness, minor cuts, scrapes and bruises, tax season and aunt Gladys's cooking symptoms. Of course, for serious or repeating symptoms, see your health care practitioner

     Following each herb is the botanical name. Then you will see a short note about the easiest and least expensive way to get the plants to your garden. You don't have to collect every plant on the list.

    Find recipes that you wish to use, and grow the herbs that are necessary for them.

    You can find the following eleven plants at your local nursery or garden center. If they are unavailable there, check with friends, mail order, do a search on the internet, check gardening and herbs section of the links page on this site, or start them from seed.

    • Thyme Thymus vulgaris best planted from starts (small plants at the nursery)  
    • Balm or Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis best planted from starts or divisions (cut your friend's plant in half)  
    • Catnip Nepeta cataria grow from seed  
    • Dandelion Taraxacum officinale less invasive strains can be found through mail order suppliers who specialize in exotic and European 'greens' or you can just let one pop up wherever, but be certain of your identification.  
    • Fennel Foeniculum vulgare grow from seed  
    • Feverfew Chrysanthemum parthenium best planted from starts  
    • German Chamomile Matricaria chamomilla grow from seed  
    • Hibiscus Hibiscus rosa-sinensis grow from established plants available at most nurseries (larger perennials in 1/2 gallon or larger pots)  
    • Peppermint Mentha piperita divisions or starts  
    • Purple Cone Flower Echinacea angustifolia if available, or purpurea established plants from the nursery  
    • Red Clover Trifolium pratense, grow from seed

    Mark out the shape of a garden bed that will be 50-70 square feet. For this particular plan, the area is 5 feet by 10 feet and is intended to be placed at the edge of your property or against a fence or other obstacle. In other words, it should be viewed from the sides or the front (thyme is in front) for the best display. Feel free to design your own bed shape. If aesthetics are not a concern for you, an old ladder can be placed on the ground, and one of each herb can be planted between the rungs.

    If you will be planting where there is now a lawn or grass, try the following easy method of ground preparation to prevent having to till the soil. Lay down a thick layer of color-free newspapers. Soy based ink is best and be sure that no colored print is on them. Use 17 layers of paper for most lawns, or 25 layers for lawns with persistant weeds. Weight down the papers with a few bricks or rocks, then cover all the paper with 1/2 inch to 2 inches of compost, potting soil, grass clippings, or any organic matter that is free of seeds. If you can afford it, bark mulch is very attractive.

    Set the sprinkler on the area for about three hours to slowly soak everything down, and let it all sit for at least a week. When you are ready to plant, cut an X in the deteriorating paper and pop the plant in. Start indoors the plants that you will be growing from seed. Don't worry if it is late in the season when you are starting the seeds, most of these herbs are perennials and the garden plot will only be improved by the wait. I like to start new beds using this method in late autumn or early spring and try to let it 'rot' for about a month before planting.

    Be sure to plant the peppermint, catnip and lemon balm in containers without bottoms or they will take over faster than an alien invasion. Five gallon buckets or plastic flower pots with the bottoms cut off work great for this. Sink the containers into the soil until the rim of the pot is 2 or 3 inches above the soil/mulch line. This will prevent these plants from spreading over the entire garden. Use any shape of planter to design interesting growth forms. The other plants will spread and grow but with average harvesting, they should stay in their spots pretty well.

    Printed with Permission

    Gardening For Grounding To Mother Earth

    Over the last couple of months I have been participating in activities that I enjoy, without really taking the time to think about what those activities mean on a spiritual level. Most of them have been helping me connect with the Earth, which I knew. We tend to do these things out of intuition without placing much thought into exactly why we do them. But whenever one participates in activities that have to do with connecting with the Earth, did you also know it is a grounding exercise? Obviously in the Spring everybody gets out there and does their yard work, etc. Some people even feel like it's a chore.

    Over the years, I have really come to enjoy my yard work. It's one thing that I put myself into that really reflects back to me the beauty of myself. Whatever love, attention, watering, feeding of my plants, flowers and grass that I do, the more beautiful they become. So this is very much an obvious benefit. For me it is a wonderful expression of the Divine.

    The other fantastic benefit, as I mentioned above, is the effects of grounding. It's very important to allow the time for grounding, otherwise one can really get caught up in the day to day things that really aren't all that important. Lack of grounding leaves one feeling "spacey", to the point of being scatter-brained and having the feeling of not even really being here. It's a feeling of almost being in a dream-like state. Such a state for very long can be dangerous, leaving one unfocused. An example would be driving a vehicle in such a state, not really being focused on the road.

    Grounding also serves as a very important purpose for feeling our connection with the Earth and all living things. There are many different levels of feeling disconnected; anything from feeling disconnected from the people in your life to not being able to relate well with animals or not even being able to understand WHY people do view plants, animals, and the Earth in general as sacred as they do. Some speculate that allergies can be a form of disconnection. Whatever level of disconnection you may be feeling, doing activities that help to ground you to the Earth will help you to feel the sense of interconnectedness that a spiritual being having a human experience is meant to feel.

    In the Fall, Spring and Summer months, doing yard work is one of the best grounding activities I like to do. In the Winter months, it's a bit more difficult for me, though I do understand that doing things such as transplanting your house plants or even just running your hands through some soil in a pot are both excellent ways of grounding yourself in the Winter. Doing this on a regular basis as I would in the warmer months is a bit of a challenge for me. The Winter "blahs" partially stem from lack of grounding.

    However much you would like to participate in an Earth grounding activity is up to you. I have found that I dig deeper and deeper into them as each year goes by. Start with watering the lawn yourself, instead of leaving a sprinkler. I have found that my lawn benefits from this for a several reasons; the first being of course that I am using my own energy, and putting a bit of myself into this more mindful act of watering. The second, is that it is never good to saturate a lawn with too much water, which often happens when we leave a sprinkler out there to do the work; root rot can then occur. The third is that there is a more even and concentrated amount of water that your lawn receives; less water is evaporated into the air, thereby saving water as well. Obviously tending to your own lawn such as mowing and trimming are also both good for starting your grounding activities.

    If you care to go a little deeper into Earth grounding, start planting flowers. If the soil in your area is not very good, it's very important to take the time and finances to improve the condition of your soil. Using mulch, peat moss, and other organic materials is a great idea. Think of it as giving back to the Earth for the nutritious food she has given you, and for the beauty of the flowers she is about to give you. Whatever nurturing steps you take to feed the soil, flowers/plants and lawn, will be reflected back to you.

    To go a little bit further into this type of grounding process, think about planting an herb and/or vegetable garden. I have a very small yard, so I have a few herbs, lettuce, strawberry and tomato plants growing in a small area. Again, they need more than just water to grow, and your soil needs to be in good condition. Be sure to feed all your plants as well, whether it's the lawn or your vegetable garden.

    Obviously, if you live in an apartment or do not have a yard, you have to be a little bit creative in this type of grounding activity. If you don't already have houseplants, consider getting some. Once you get started nurturing a plant, watering it, feeding it, changing the soil and putting it into a bigger pot for further growth, you'll be hooked for life . . . trust me! If you want to dabble in an herb garden, consider growing a window herb garden! Caring for your plants can also make you eventually want to change your environment; perhaps moving to a brighter home with more windows, or maybe even move to a place that has a yard for you to care for. In either case, not only will it be a better environment for your plants, but it will be a better environment for you! So not only are these grounding exercises, they also help you to explore your nurturing side, not only for your plants, but for yourself. We need to nurture ourselves as well!

    The Moon travels through each one of the Zodiac signs about once a month--she stays in one sign about 2 1/2 days before moving on to the next one. As you can see from the table below, there are different tasks assigned to each Sign according to it's planetary influences. This is a very ancient system, and I, for one, can attest to it's accuracy. Factoring in other issues, such as what planting Zone you are in, how much you water or fertilize your plants, and weather conditions, the chart below will add an extra measure of success to your gardening techniques.
    The best way, other than the Farmer's Almanac, to tell when the Moon is in a particular Sign, is to get a good Ephemeris: a book which contains the exact minute, hour, day & time when each one of the planets (including the Moon, of course!) goes through the various Zodiac signs. I use "THE AMERICAN EPHEMERIS for the 20th CENTURY: 1900 to 2000 at NOON " compiled and programmed by Neil F. Michelsen; it uses Universal Time (UT) which is basically the same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), except that UT is expressed in military fashion, 00:00 to 24:00.
    Planting by the Zodiac
    the Ram Aries/Fire/Masculine/Day/Cardinal-The Moon in Aries is a dry & barren time; plant onions, hot peppers & garlic, cultivate what is all ready there, and kill weeds & insects.
    the Bull Taurus/Earth/Feminine/Night/Fixed-The Moon in Taurus is a moist and productive time; a good time for planting--especially root crops such as turnips, potatoes, carrots and for cultivating bulbs.
    the Twins Gemini/Air/Masculine/Day/Mutable-The Moon in Gemini is a dry and barren time--a good time to stir up and aerate the soil, subdue weeds, pinch buds to stop unwanted growth; also good for keeping a garden diary to write down new ideas.
    the Crab Cancer/Water/Feminine/Night/Cardinal-The Moon in Cancer is THE most moist & fertile time in the Zodiac. Seeds germimate quickly! Time to plant above ground, irrigate, do grafting, and to transplant new seedlings.
    the Lion Leo/Fire/Masculine/Day/Fixed-The Moon in Leo is the driest, most barren of times. *No* planting should be done, or trimming of vines or trees; you can kill weeds & insects, and burn out old growth in the fields.
    the Virgin Virgo/Earth/Feminine/Night/Mutable-The Moon in Virgo is a moist, but barren time; cut weeds, tie up pole-plants, clean the dirt & rust off your garden tools, tuck new straw around the plants--generally tidy up the garden.
    the Scales Libra/Air/Masculine/Day/Cardinal-The Moon in Libra is a moist and fairly productive time, good for vigorous pulp growth, and hearty grain yields. This is the best time to plant any ornamental flowers or sow flower seeds.
    the Scorpion Scorpio/Water/Feminine/Night/Fixed-The Moon is Scorpio is a very moist and productive time. This is the best time for fertilizing your crops; good for planting too--especially vines; also a good time to irrigate.
    the Archer Sagittarius/Fire/Masculine/Day/Mutable-The Moon in Sagittarius is a dry and barren time--*do not* plant now or try to trim plants ; harvest now only during the *dark* of the Moon (also during Aquarius and Aries).
    the Goat Capricorn/Earth/Feminine/Night/Cardinal-The Moon in Capricornus is a fairly productive time; it is especially good for planting root crops such as carrots and potatoes. This is also the time to wean your pets.
    the Water-Bearer Aquarius/Air/Masculine/Day/Fixed-The Moon in Aquarius is a dry & barren time, not good for planting, but good for stirring the soil & killing weeds. Harvesting during the last quarter of the New Moon is best.
    the Fishes Pisces/Water/Feminine/Night/Mutable-The Moon in Pisces is a moist and very productive time; excellent for the growth of fruits and berries, and to fertilize the garden. Good for short, quick growth and deep roots, and for planting bulbs.
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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:24 AM)


    Herbs have been used for thousands of years in all cultures for both medicinal and magickal purposes. In this series of articles, herbs will be considered from both perspectives based on the western model codified by the herbalogist/astrologer/philosopher Paracelsus, planet by planet. Let us begin by considering the medicinal and energy properties of the Solar Herbs.

    In medicinal terms, the Sun could be considered the Great Restorative. Even as the returning sun allows plant life to flourish on the earth, the herbs attributed to the Sun act, each in their own fashion, to restore metabolic vitality and to stimulate and balance a system suffering from either excess or deficiency. Many of the plants, of course, may be considered Solar simply on the basis of appearance. Chamomile
    , Celandine, St. John's Wort and Calendula
    all produce bright yellow flowers, many of which blossom around the Summer Solstice. The Sunflower follows the path of the Sun during the day, facing the east as the Sun rises and bending its head to the west as the Sun sets. Saffron produces the bright yellow-gold dye that may be considered Solar in effect.

    It is in healing, however, that the Solar herbs exemplify their beneficial attributions. The effects of solar herbs restore equilibrium to the entire physical system, often serving as tonics to the heart and in the promotion the free flow of vital energy. The heart is commonly considered the solar center of the body (the organ ruled by Leo with the Sun as the planet attributed to Leo) and many effects of solar herbs center around this organ.
    Angelica relieves circulatory conditions, such as gout, when used as a compress, as well as fever, inflammations and headache (all conceivable symptoms of excess heat or high blood pressure). St. John's Wort relieves headaches while Chamomile and Celandine reduce fever. Chamomile, Celandine, Juniper and St. John's Wort also relieve swellings, inflammations and rheumatic conditions which tie in with the use of Eyebright and St. John's Wort to relieve symptoms due to colds (the application of restorative, solar heat on rheumatic joints and congested lungs). Angelica and St. John's Wort
    also have restorative properties that

    Mistletoe, parasite/symbiote to the oak, attributed in a wide variety of cultures to solar deities, produces a drastic and often fatal action on the heart and circulatory system. The berries are never used but the leaves and twigs can be made in a weak infusion to reduce bleeding by lowering blood pressure, and it can be used to reduce uterine bleeding after parturition. As one of the few spots of green in the forest in the dead of winter, the mistletoe
    is often viewed as a symbol of the sun and returning life.

    Because the Sun is seen in astrology and magick as the planet of the ego or personality, the magickal/energy effects of the Solar herbs are to promote self confidence and personal success. The energies of Sun herbs are represented and expressed by people in the public eye - rulers and authority figures, as well as people in successful endeavors that give them much pleasure by personal self-expression. Sun herbs impart a sense of purpose and a strong will. Used in solar incenses, ritual oils, philters and other herbal formulas used in ritual, Sun herbs give vitality, health, creativity, dignity, success and authority. Traditional herbs of the Sun include
    Angelica, Ash, Bay, Chamomile, Celandine, Eyebright, Frankincense, Juniper, Mistletoe, Rosemary, Saffron, Safflower, St. John's Wort
    , Sunflower, Tormentilla, and Walnuts.


    The energies of the Moon effect the activities of the subconscious, the intuition, dream work and the emotions. The plants attributed to the Moon act principally on the major fluids of the body and on the stomach (attributed to Cancer, ruled by the Moon). Their fluidic action is primarily regulatory and eliminative. Much of the digestive activity seems also to influence the individual's moods - the emotional effect of stomach action being well known so this dual action of several of the herbs makes a great deal of sense.

    Several herbs bear marked resemblances to the Moon in her various phases, both in color and shape of plant, fruit and flower. The white fruits of fennel grow in pairs of curved oblong shapes that seem to represent the waxing and waning lunar crescents. The lily, long an associate of Lunar Goddesses, has round, bell-shaped flowers that are frequently bright white and it bears oblong to crescent shaped leaves. The fruit of the almond generally is also pure white and oblong to crescent shaped.

    Those herbs that deal with fluidity generally act upon water and blood most specifically even as the Moon herself controls the tides and the flow of blood. Cucumber helps eliminate excess water from the body and is an anti-constipatory diuretic, particularly effective in dissolving uric acid accumulations such as kidney stones. Fennel and lily are eliminatives, laxatives and diuretics and while the lily acts as a digestive antispasmodic, fennel is commonly used to stimulate the flow of milk in nursing mothers. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is particularly apt in its lunar attribution in that in addition to its digestive and purgative qualities, a decoction can be used quite effectively to regulate the flow of menstrual blood.

    Several Lunar herbs act on other fluids of the body (generally to eliminate excess) as well as acting as digestives. Camphor, by reducing fluid accumulation in the lungs and pleural sac, is an excellent remedy for whooping cough and pleurisy. Bitter almond is used as a cough remedy while sweet almond is used internally as a soothing syrup and externally as an emollient. Meanwhile, white sandalwood is used to reduce inflammation of mucosal tissue as well as being a diuretic - a decoction of the wood can also be used for indigestion.

    Myrrh and Sandalwood share both astringent and stomachic properties, but along with jasmin and bitter almond, they share qualities ascribed to the Moon that surpass the simply medicinal. Bitter almond and jasmin both have sedative effects, calming the nerves and allowing a more intuitive, psychic lunar mode of brain function to manifest. It is probably also this aspect that has earned jasmin its reputation as an erotogen, the resultant intuitive empathy credited with aphrodisical properties and the ability to overcome inhibition. Almond, jasmin, sandalwood and myrrh seem when used in incense to also possess the ability to trigger olfactorily the subtle, lunar mode of perception that is so effective in work of intuition, psychism and pathworking.

    Magickally speaking, herbs of the Moon affect the subconscious mind. They are a very good aid in the development of the intuition and of psychic abilities as well as in remembering dreams. As they have such a primary effect on the subconscious, they can be used to successfully influence it to break old habits and to recall past lives. Traditional Lunar herbs include anise, cabbage, camphor, cucumber, iris, jasmine, lettuce, lily, poppy, violet, willow, lotus, moonwort, mugwort, pumpkin and white sandalwood.


    Mars has a bad reputation, being associated with destruction, impetuous action, strife and aggression, but these are qualities that Mars can express when it is not in balance. The energies of Mars are also those which protect and that break down and destroy in its effects of catabolism, the breaking down and clearing away of waste or dead tissue. The energies of Mars are represented in the activities of firemen, police officers and the military - all professions which can be dangerous yet protect life and, in the case of the police and military, preserve law and justice. Mars energies can be intense and uncomfortable at times when experienced in one's life yet are necessary to protecting life and health.

    Red is the color of Mars which makes Martian attributions of Dragon's Blood resin and cayenne obvious. In ritual, Dragon's Blood has its uses in binding, protection and purgation, all of which fall under the dominion of the powers of Mars. Mars herbs in general are irritants, purges, stimulants and they act to build up body heat, increase energy and promote an assertive vitality. Rue is an aromatic stimulant whose energizing qualities have been known to relieve nervous heart problems such as arrhythmia and palpitation. Rue also relives colic, eliminates worms and can bring on menstruation. One quickly learns upon handling the fresh herb that the juice is a highly effective, though fortunately local, irritant.

    Nettle, another herb of Mars, possesses thorns that act as hypodermics, injecting subcutaneous doses of stinging fluid. It is this same irritating juice, however, that when properly prepared becomes a powerful internal astringent, eliminating infections and blood in the urine, regulating blood pressure and flow, cleansing and relieving hemorrhoids, reducing susceptibility to colds and by virtue of its heating action, relieving rheumatic conditions.

    Sulphur is another extreme irritant, being hot (in fact, flammable) and explosive - all properties that exemplify Mars. Peppercorns and cayenne share this quality of producing extreme heat (peppers being classified by the amount of BTU's -British Thermal Units - that they produce) and the efficacy of their use depends a great deal on the resilience of an individual constitution. Peppercorn and cayenne are noteworthy digestive catabolists, aiding immeasurably in the aggressive breakdown of food and waste products. Cayenne, in building up body heat, is excellent for maintaining resistance to colds and will increase blood flow to any area that it is applied to when used in a plaster (although watch out for the danger of blistering).

    The internal effects of these irritants as well as the olfactory stimulus of sulphur used in incense are highly effective in the induction of a Mars temperament, especially where aggression is called for and in path-workings pertaining to the Qabalistic sphere of Geburah. Magically speaking, herbs of Mars give vast amounts of energy to projects and health. They give protection, independence, assertiveness and stimulate the passions. When mixed with in an incense or formula with herbs of other planets, Mars herbs lend their immense energies to the effects of the other herbs, thereby strengthening and vitalizing the whole. Traditional herbs of Mars include Aloes, Basil, Broomtops, Briony, Cayenne, Cumin, Galangal, Garlic, Gentian, Ginger, Mustard, Nettle, Pepper, Sanicle, Tobacco and Wormwood.


    The activity of herbs attributed to Mercury is quite multifaceted and diverse, mirroring the ways that the energies of Mercury tend to perform in magick, but a common thread runs through them. Mercury is the connector, the communicator and the messenger, representing the bright intelligence and the free flow of nervous energy. Mercury governs both the nervous and respiratory systems and is intrinsically involved in matters of conscious perception. Like the Mars herbs, the action of stimulation is principal amongst Mercurial herbs though they are of a somewhat gentler and more precise nature than the Martian herb stimuli. Mercury energy is about communication & comprehension - communication by electrical impulse in the brain as well as the verbal and written word. Mercury energies are those of the orator, writer, computer programmer and actor. The herbs associated with this planet are often spices which act to excite the nervous system and the brain through the sense of taste. Cinnamon, licorice and star anise are noted examples of this function.

    Gum Mastic exemplifies the interconnecting messenger function of Mercury. Though it is a fixative and binder, it provides the medium in which a multiplicity of elements may blend (communicate). Mercurial herbs seem as a group to act to relieve respiratory difficulty, hoarseness and headache due to stress. Mullein taken as a tea relieves respiratory conditions as well as coughs, hoarseness and bronchitis, while inhalation of the steam serves to break up congestion in the chest. Application of a mullein fomentation, on the other hand, is said to relieve skin inflammation, itching and warts. Licorice also relieves sore throat, hoarseness and bronchial conditions as well as calming nervous ulcers.

    Lavender is excellent for relief to the skin when applied directly as a flower infusion or as an essential oil for insect bites and is an aid in relieving headache when massaged into the temples. It is also a beneficial herb to use in a sleep pillow to help focus and quiet the rambling thoughts of the mind in preparation for rest. Drinking a tea of equal parts cinnamon and lavender flowers is also very helpful before studying to help focus the mind in order to retain the information.

    Mercurial herbs facilitate clear thinking and conscious understanding. They aid in business success and excite and vitalize the nervous receptors throughout the body. They help to facilitate quick recovery from illness. Mercurial herbs enable the conscious mind to communicate more easily with the subconscious mind, thus aiding psychic work with the Tarot or any other divination method which visually incorporates symbols and requires memorization. Herbs traditionally associated with Mercury include Cinnamon, Dill, Ephedra, Lavender, Licorice, Gum Mastic, Marjoram, Mouseear, Mullein, Star Anise, Thyme and Woodruff.


    The energies of our largest planet, Jupiter, are represented and expressed in the human functions of magistrate, village elder and priest/ess. Jupiter is the planet of the All-father in many pantheons and the corresponding properties of generation, expansion and beneficence are consistently fulfilled in the herbs attributed to Jupiter. While Sage and Wood Betony wave the Jupiterian banner of royal purple in their crowns of leaves and flowers, it is in the healing, soothing functions that the herbs as a whole medicinally typify the benefic influence of their patron planet. Many of the herbs act to soothe and gently heal several conditions that are well known for causing extreme discomfort.

    Wood betony is particularly useful for digestive difficulties that are (with varying degrees of aptness) attributed commonly to overly enthusiastic Jovian expressions of appetite. As a stomachic it is effective in relieving cramps, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea and dysentery. While wood betony acts to relieve the effects of Jovian excess, many of the other attributed herbs reflect the expansive, philanthropical aspects of Jupiter by acting as soothing salves, balms, tonics and emollients. Used internally, aloes is generally a purgative, but when used in an external wash it is one of the most effective of known emollients. It draws out infections and is useful as a wound wash, exerting a soothing and healing influence on minor burns, cuts, insect bites and wrinkles. Dandelion and linden, too, as teas act external astringents for skin irritations and mouth and throat sores.

    Oak bark is another Jovian astringent effective on skin irritations and sores when used as a wash. As an internal astringent and digestive, it helps control rectal problems, hemorrhoids, bloody urine, varicose veins and internal hemorrhage. As the oak represented the All-father to the Druids, progenitor in the arboreal hierarchies, the strength of the tree radiates and the towering, beneficent shelter it provides to the forest have earned it by virtue of its very demeanor its attribution to Jupiter. Pine and poplar also produce healing balms. Poplar in particular produces a soothing salve for internal use and an exterior application for skin rashes, burns and scrapes non-pareil. The ascorbic acid content of pine makes it effect as a balm and liniment where a revitalization of systemic activity is needed. Pine-resin vapors, inhaled, are excellent in soothing respiratory ailments. Burdock root serves as an incredible liver tonic (the organ attributed to Jupiter) and clears the blood of hepatitis.

    Jupiter herbs are expansive herbs. They bring growth, both spiritual and material. Herbs of Jupiter expand the mind, allowing for a mental understanding of the workings of the universe, the laws of nature and of humankind. Traditional Jovian herbs include Agrimony, Cinquefoil, Figs, Fir tree, Hyssop, Linden, Magnolia, Maple, Meadowsweet, Oak Sage, Sumac, Rosin and Wood Betony

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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:26 AM)


    The energies of Venus are those of the Arts, Music, Beauty and Balance. As such, using the herbs of Venus can help to influence and enhance creativity, self-expression in painting, writing music, dance and all acts of artistic expression. Venusian herbs are also useful in physical beauty as well when they are applied to the skin to bring smoothness, moisture and youthfulness to the face.

    A key concept in dealing with Venusian symbology and attributes is harmony. The balancing force represented by one of Venus's rulerships, Libra, may be taken as a good metaphor for the playing out of the idea of harmony on every level. Thus the sense of the aesthetic and of empathy and love manifest on all levels is emphasized with the energies of this planet. It is the Qabalistic sphere of Netzach to which Venus is attributed - the ecstatic consciousness that is a wellspring of creativity. Venus is the planet of the arts - dance, music, drawing and sculpture all express the Venusian energies and can be aided by the use of Venus herbs in incense, oil blends and teas. Love and beauty also fall under the rulership of Venus. Romantic love, to be sure, but also love of family, friends, community, the planet and all other beings. It is this Love, this coming together in empathy which creates the harmony of Venus. They say 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' and so it is with the Venusian appreciation of form in harmony. Beauty is found in perfect function, proportion and balance - not necessarily just in fashion magazines.

    Venus rules over the metamorphosis of the cells, the reproduction and enrichment and transformation of cells, the preservation of the body, the complexion, the reproductive system and the harmony between all the systems of the body. To access these energies through the use of herbs you may wish to consider the following: For the Skin and physical beauty a facial application of rosewater or rose oil stabilizes the skin, helps with blemishes and generally nourishes. Strawberries, as well, heal the skin when they are eaten or their fruit juice is consumed and you can even cut strawberries into slices and give yourself a healing facial by laying them on the skin.

    For balancing health & enhancing the function of your metabolism and cells tansy, vervain and raspberry leaf and berries can be drunk in a tea or taken in capsule form. Reproduction and sexuality are also under the dominion of Venus. Raspberry, cherry, banana and periwinkle can help to nourish and balance the reproductive system, thus influencing the male and female hormones which are key to sexual interest.


    The energies of Saturn are those which rule the knowledge of karma, protection and shielding, endurance and time, restriction, self-control and the learning through overcoming challenges. It is sometimes known as a 'malefic' planet because it is through the meeting of these challenges that Saturn can bring that we experience hardship and difficulties. However, it is the overcoming of these challenges that the lessons of Saturn are learned and we understand the lessons that are our karmic heritage, enabling us to be more spiritually focused individuals.

    The herbs of Saturn which express these energies are those which are roots like comfrey root or solomon's seal root, or grow in dark, dank places like cypress and are dark themselves such as patchouli. Herbs which serve in a clearing or fumitory/cleansing fashion such as garlic, which is a natural antibiotic also fall under the dominion of Saturn.

    Saturn represents the forces of limitations and restrictions both in time and space providing the structure without which existence would dissolve into chaos. It is interesting that 2 of the most foul-smelling herbs, asafoetida and valerian, have been used for millennia in rites of banishment and exorcism and, medicinally speaking, are powerful antispasmodics, acting to limit and sedate potentially damaging overflows of energy. Other herbs of Saturn: rosemary, dill and St. John's wort are also antispasmodics, working principally on the nervous and digestive systems. Rosemary also reduces scrofulous sores and acts as a mild astringent. As astringents, acting to restrict and eliminate infection, we find Solomon's Seal, Hyssop, St. John's wort and garlic. Solomon's Seal and Hyssop bear fruit of the indigo color of Saturn and the flowers of garlic are sterile. Garlic is a great limiter in terms of internal infection as well as being an eliminative for worms. It admirably suits the Saturnian aspect of protection as garlic is widely credited as a preventative against a variety of diseases (including Bubonic Plague). It regularizes the liver and gall bladder (while Rosemary stimulates bile production) and has a limiting effect of the circulatory system, lowering blood pressure and combating arteriosclerosis. Sharing the pungent, aromatic qualities of valerian and asafoetida, it exemplifies the Saturnian medical principal of essential healing agents that are at times difficult to swallow.

    Traditional herbs of Saturn include dill, rosemary, garlic, Solomon's Seal, hyssop, St. John's wort, valerian, patchouli, cypress, asafetida and yew.


    THE HERBS OF NEPTUNE are those of the mystic and the artist, the same ecstatic energy represented by Venus transmuted to a higher level of psychic and imaginative power that nurtures the sources of creativity, perception and inspiration through the experience of illusion, fantasy, imagination and occult intuition. Neptune is the dreamer - an aspect perhaps represented by the image of the sleeping Vishnu dreaming the dream of infinite creation.

    The herbs attributed to Neptune are the patron plants of dream weavers. Their principal effects are psychotropic and psychotomimetic, opening up recesses of higher and lower levels of consciousness not normally accessible to the waking mind, revealing or at least indicating that most occult of all entities - the Hidden Self. A study of Neptunian herbs sheds light on the hidden aspects of the herbs associated with this mystical planet, revealing their connection. For example, an infusion of dried orange blossoms produce a stimulating effect on the nervous system. The oil distilled from the blossoms, however, upon inhalation of its delightful scent enables the inhaler to achieve a state described in the texts as 'hypnotic' - an excellent medium for trance work which falls under the dominion of Neptune.

    Neptune is considered to be the higher octave of Venus, thus those properties of Venus - the arts, music, beauty, and love - are brought to an even higher, more intense and pure level. Neptune energies inspire the artist in finding his/her Muse and enable one to connect with the collective unconscious to explore the depths of art, music, beauty and dance in a deeply emotional way which ignites the subconscious, hopefully leading to a clearer and more intense expression of creative talent.

    Opium is distilled from the Neptune herb Poppy, and while its use is not recommended to achieve trance states or astral travel due to problems with addiction and overdose, poppy seeds used in a tea or burnt in an incense will achieve a less intense opiate state while still aiding the user in obtaining the desired level. If you use poppy seeds this way, be aware that your use of it will show up in drug tests! Cannabis is another Neptune herb and still illegal in the United States, but those flower children of the '60s could attest to its hypnotic effects and heightened sense of creativity (although I'm not sure how much creativity was actually expressed!). Passion Flower is used medicinally as a calmative, sedative and soother. If you have ever viewed the live plant, you can attest to its other-worldly appearance. Wisteria, like Orange Blossom, has an intoxicating scent which leads to a calm, inward contemplation ideal for meditation and calming the mind prior to creative activity.

    Herbs of Neptune include orange blossom, poppy, lobelia, wisteria, hemp, wild lettuce, willow and lotus


    As Neptune is the dreamer and the mystic, so is Uranus the eccentric and the magickian. Neptune governs the irrational, intuitive function of the mind while Uranus governs the same functions of conscious perception as Mercury, but on another higher level. You might look at the energies of Mercury as the college math professor and Uranus as Einstein with his intuitive thinking patterns that make sense of the workings of the universe. The Uranian sphere of endeavor may be considered to be the conscious exercise of lucid magickal perception.

    Each somewhat eccentric herb attributed to this decidedly unique planet does something to facilitate the achievement of this highly energized mental state. While Mercury may rule the nervous system, Uranus governs the electrical flow of nervous energy itself Indeed, while most planets seem to rule a system or set or organs, Uranus rules ongoing, kinetic processes. Each Uranian herb acts as a nervous stimulant, producing an abundance of circulated energy flow that can cause the mind and one's perceptions to act and react in a decidedly off-the-wall manner.

    Coffee was originally brewed as a sacramental drink among the Aztec, Maya and Inca. A powerful nervous stimulant, due principally to its heavy caffeine content, coffee produces a state of temporary alertness that may be useful in magickal operations and perceptions. The danger arises with prolonged use or overindulgence, which can produce both a physical addiction and a state of mental and emotional burn-out - where what was once only charmingly eccentric becomes dangerously erratic. It is a sort of a Sorcerer's Apprentice effect.

    is also a sacramental drink among Pacific islanders, though in effect it seems to be the polar opposite of coffee. It was used in ritual to induce a tranquil sleep filled with visions and is thought to be a principal agent in the astral endeavors of the Hunas. It was also though to act once again in contract to the effects of coffee - as an aphrodisiac,

    is an aromatic, stimulant hallucinogen that serves to kick the brain into overdrive. Neural synapses seem to fire all at once and associational thought processes have a momentum all their own. A clear symptom of over indulgence is doubled or blurred vision. Even clear symptoms are severe stomach pain, hemorrhaging and death.

    Other herbs of Uranus include
    guarana, clove and cinnamon.


    Pluto has been somewhat of an occult enigma since its discovery. Its attributions and rulerships have been debated, often bitterly, for the past 50 some years. The current (and most intuitively workable) hypothesis defines Pluto as the planet of sex, death and regeneration; of things hidden and subterranean - those primordial forces of evolution and inner compulsion that represent a dark aspect of the God. Pluto is considered officially to be the higher aspect of the energies of Mars and, in my experiences and studies, also partakes of the higher energies of the karmic and subconscious energies of Saturn. I believe the attribution of grains such as rye and wheat to Pluto tend to bear out the previously ascribed qualities, particularly if fungoidal grain parasite-symbiotes such as ergot are added to the Plutonian catalogue.

    Pluto's abduction of Persephone into the underworld is a mythogenic narrative too well known to the reader to require an elaboration here. What is sometimes overlooked is the fact that the myth quite securely connects Pluto as an essential component to the continuing cycle of the death and regeneration of the cereal grains, plant life and ultimately (and metaphorically) all life. Thus Pluto's legendary connection with cereal grains seems well established.

    There are, however, other levels of meaning and other perspectives to be taken regarding this primal legend and Pluto's herbal attributes. The Eleusinian Mysteries grew up around the Demeter-Pluto-Persephone legends and became, over the centuries, a profound initiatory experience. Central to the rites was the consumption of a potion made of barely water containing a decoction of ergot, the progenitor, of course, of our own LSD, the discovery of which virtually accompanied the astronomical discovery of the planet Pluto.

    One of the few common threads amid the bewildering variety of experience catalyzed by ergot and its derivatives is the experience of death and dissolution of the ego (which from an egocentric viewpoint amounts to total annihilation) and its subsequent reconstitution and regeneration. Ergotophiles are taken on a voyage through their own psychic underworld that closely parallels the experience of Persephone as bride of Pluto.

    There is also a great deal of evidence to indicate that the experience involves a triggering of genetic memory and so open the floodgates of evolutionary force. More over, the saprophytic cousins or ergot such as amanita muscaria and psilocybin subsist on decay, and were once commonly associated with dark, deadly subterranean origins. Ergot also serves as a vasoconstrictor which may be considered an appropriate effect for an attribute of the higher octave of Mars.

    Pluto may indeed by the dread dark lord whose experience is, to say the least, cathartic. Through the agency of the ergot derivatives, however, it is possible to put oneself on the pathway to the experience while providing for the possibility of human fraility by eliminating (just like in real life and death) the possibility of turning back.

    Pluto herbs bring about dramatic, sometimes traumatic change, particularly within the psyche. They promote dramatic growth and insights normally through cataclysmic circumstances. Pluto herbs aid the sexually impotent and help to balance the physical with the spiritual. Some herbs of Pluto are: Corn, Damiana, Fly Agaric, Galangal Root, Barley, Oats, Mushrooms, Rye, Psilocybin, Wheat, Saw Palmetto and Yohimbe.
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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:28 AM)

    Climate Change and Your Garden

    Climate Change


    Hardiness zones are based on average minimum annual temperatures. Over the past 16 years, most zones have shifted northward as average temperatures have warmed.

    Many gardeners must re-evaluate their planting strategies as global warming shifts hardiness zones.

    Political scientists talk about the United States as a closely fought battle between red and blue. While the battle is undecided politically speaking, from a climatologist’s perspective, the red is clearly winning. And to gardeners, this means big changes.

    The map below, from The Arbor Day Foundation, shows changes in U.S. Hardiness Zones over the past 16 years. While there are pockets of bluish gardeners who have seen their zones shift to cooler temperatures, the majority of the country has seen its zones move into the red because of warmer temperatures.

    Although these changes are significant, it’s a simplification to talk about them strictly in terms of warming. Garden writer Anne Raver of The New York Times was the first to label the trend what it really is: “global weirding.” Nearly all parts of the country have been experiencing strange and often extreme conditions, be they hot, cold, wet or dry.

    Opportunistic gardeners may be tempted to fantasize about what a few extra degrees of warmth will do for their melons or grape vines. Deep down, however, they know that climate change is not simply about a few extra vineyards here and a few less sugar maple groves there. It’s about giving Mother Nature the “mother of all makeovers,” the results of which no one can accurately predict.

    What’s clear is that it will take a coordinated group effort to reduce and offset global warming activities. Farmers around the world, and those who grow their own food, will need to expand their expertise as they endure more extreme weather. To learn more about your zone, visit the Arbor Day Web site

    Indoor Tea Garden
    Many tea herbs grow well indoors. They may not reach the fullness or height that they would outdoors as their container-bound roots are somewhat dwarfed, but they can still provide beauty and an abundance of leaves for making herbal teas.

    Some tea herbs to grow indoors include;
    Angelica, bay, borage, burnet, catnip, chamomile, dill, fennel, horehound,jasmine, lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, marjoram, mint, oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, tansy, tarragon, thyme, wintergreen,sweet woodruff, and of course....scented geraniums!!!

    Make sure you choose a spot where the plants will get plenty of sun, ideally a south-facing window that gets light all day.....if you don't have that, you may have to use artificial plant lights, giving seedlings and plants from 12 to 16 hours of artificial light each and every day.

    You can grow a garden on a table next to a window, in a window greenhouse, in hanging baskets, in a terrarium, on trays, in large window boxes and of course in pots.

    Make sure you use room temperature water. Take time to learn the herbshabits....and water accordingly. You should also provide enough humidity. If your home is dry, as it tends to get during winter months, use a humidifier in your home, or mist herbs daily....preferably early in the day so that the herbs are dry when the light is no longer available. Some herbs will adapt to the drier humidity of indoor growing...but some will not! If an herb's leaves wither, check to see that it's getting enough, or too much water, and enough light. If the leaves develop brown streaks...the plant may be getting too much sun. A lot of us indoor gardeners think insects or disease are causing leaves to wither, turn brown, or develop crisp edges...but this may not be so. The plant may be getting too much heat, or soil temperatures may be fluctuating too much. Lifeless-looking leaves may be the result of too little water. Buds dropping off usually indicates rapidly fluctuating temperatures,. If stems turn soft, the herb isn't getting enough sun, and it's probably getting too much water.

    Herbs growing indoors are fairly resistant to disease and insects, just as they are outdoors. But.....they DO get them.Major indoor herb pests include aphids, mealybugs, mites, and white flies. White flies love mints indoors!!! Insecticidal soaps, used to combat outside pests, are also available in indoor formulas. They provide effective insect control and are organic, they contain no substances injurious to people or to pets!!!!

    When you buy herbs from the nursery this time of the year, especially in colder zones, they may well have isolate them for your other plants for up to a week. Be sure to keep your plants trimmed. Trim just above the leaf buds, and trim regularly rather than allowing plants to become too large and 'leggy', which will require dramatic trimming, and can cause the plants to die of shock caused by the imbalance between the roots and leaves!!!! Believe me....I speak from experience!!

    Indoor plants require careful monitoring because they depend on you for all of their needs.

    If you use the herbs as decorative centerpieces for your table or as welcome fragrances in the bedroom or kitchen, be sure to alternate them so they are not in the shade for more than a few days at a time.

    This is all well worth the work...believe me!!! These herbs offer not only beauty and fragrance close at hand, but a bountiful harvest of herbal teas as well!!!!

    Source: Karen Hegre and GrannyMoon's Morning Feast Archives

    We planted our meadow garden on Midsummer' eve (June 20th ) - a Magical fairy time. But you could plant this garden up anytime from Early Spring (March) through to mid summer or from September - early October to give the plants a head start for the following year. This Garden will look its best from mid June through to late August. If you Plant cowslips however look out for them in April.

    1. Setting up

    Choose the right spot for your Meadow Flower Fairy garden -as sunny as possible. Try to make sure the earth has not had lots of compost or fertilizers put on it recently (for instance an old vegetable patch or rose bed). Meadow flowers like poor soils - not dark rich ones.

    For containers or window boxes

    Remember never to use compost with peat in it, as this is taken from wild bogs that are home for lots of small creatures. We think the fairies would be upset about this - especially the Irish ones. Use soil from the garden or a soil based compost - ask at your local garden centre. Also make sure you don't buy wooden boxes made of wood from really old forests. To be safe use wood with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) stamp on it ? or use something else like clay or an old recycled plastic pot.

    2. Build a Fairy House

    Why not make a house for visiting fairies? . We have made ours from small sticks before we added the plants and then covered it with grasses. Make your house as big or little as you like- you could use all sorts of materials from egg boxes to old pots.

    3. Add your plants

    Dig holes big enough for each plant and give them enough space as they will all get bigger. It is a good idea to put taller plants at the back so that they don't hide the little ones.

    In our garden we have planted:

    Musk Mallow - Very tall plants ( over 1m) with big pink flowers with a slight musky smell.

    Meadow buttercup - (also known as King Cup or Fairies Basins). Tall (up to 1m) plants with single bright yellow bowl shaped flowers

    Knapweed - ( also known as Hardheads) Tall purple thistle- like fluffy flowers

    Oxeye Daisy - (also known as Moon Daisy, Gypsy Daisy, Solstice Daisy), tall plants with lots of long white petals around a bright yellow
    Ctt centre. Very popular with flying insects.

    Field Scabious - ( also known as Gypsy Rose or Pincushion) Medium sized plants with lovely lilac coloured plate shaped flowers with lots of tiny petals. Very popular with beetles and moths.

    Yarrow - (also known as Angel Flower ) Traditionally there are lots of links between Yarrow and old magic and it was once known as an Elf herb. Druids used it to predict the weather. There are also many stories of it being a love a charm - but we don't recommend you eat it. Medium height plants with large white plate like flowers made up of lots of tiny petals . Has very pretty dark green fern-like leaves. very popular with butterflies and other insects.

    Meadow Cranesbill - Small - Medium height plant with lovely big blue /lilac petals. Attractive to bees.

    Harebells - (also known as Fairy Bells/ Cups/ Caps/Ringers or Thimbles. There is much in folklore connecting these lovely flowers with fairies and magic. Hares -the animal - also have a strong history of being magical). Medium height delicate stems bearing pale mauve/blue bell shaped flowers - our favourites!

    Heartease - (also known as Kiss me over the Garden Gate or Love in Idleness) Small plants with 5 petal flowers - 2 purple 2 lilac / white and 1 yellow. Popular with bees and butterflies.

    Other meadow wildflowers you could plant:

    Lady's Bedstraw - medium size plants with lots of tiny bright yellow flowers - popular with moth caterpillars

    Sheep's Sorrel - small plants with lots tiny orange / brown flowers - good seeds for finches

    St John's Wort - medium sized plants with yellow orange star shaped flowers- it is said that stepping on such plants would cause a fairy
    Horse to rise up and take a mortal on a wild ride !

    Bladder Campion - medium sized plants with small white flowers-
    Popular with moths and bees

    Kidney Vetch - medium sized plants with yellow folded looking flowers and attractive blue green leaves.

    Red Clover - small 3 leaved plants with globe shaped pink / red flowers- loved by bees.

    These meadow flowers are usually surrounded by grasses too. These are more difficult to buy as plants but you could add special meadow grass seeds available from good garden centres or try Landlife (link ) or The Wildflower Centre (link) . NEVER add lawn grass seed as these types of grasses will eventually choke out the meadow wildflowers.

    4.Water Well

    It is very important to water your new plants very well as soon as they have been planted as this gives them a really good start in their new home. Make sure your meadow garden does not completely dry out for long times especially if you are growing this in a container or pot.  Check at least once a week.

    5. Add your decorations

    We have made lots of silver bells on sticks and made a glittery table and seats from yoghurt pots. Add whatever you like to yours. Try using recycled materials wherever you can as it is free and saveswasting materials you might otherwise throw away. We made a special fairy cake just in case any small visitors get hungry.

    6. Keep looking out for those fairies!

    Keep looking out for those fairies!

    7. Cut your meadow.
    It is very important that in September you trim your meadow with shears (or scissors) to keep the grass short and remove the cuttings- put them on the compost heap or maybe save some seeds by carefully putting the plant tops in brown paper bags and keeping somewhere dry.

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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:29 AM)

    Going Organic in the Herb Garden

    Source:  Mountain Rose Herbs

    My first garden was located to the south of an old barn, next to and just a few feet above a wetland area. Although I was a novice gardener, that wonderful patch of earth easily brought forth abundant herbs and vegetables without a spritz of herbicide or a spray of insecticide. I didn’t fully understand at the time that I owed this satisfying experience not so much to my innate gardening skills as to the long-ago chickens, turkeys, goats, cattle, and pigs that had once trod there. The soil was rich with their well-composted manure and bedding materials. The parsley produced by that first garden was the best crop I’ve ever had.

    Flush with the success of this happy accident, I set out to learn more about organic methods of growing herbs. My first surprise came as I rambled through the lush woods surrounding the farmhouse: I discovered that wonderful, useful herbs can grow freely without one moment of human encouragement. Mints, yarrow, bee balm, dandelions, nettle, lobelia, and calamus grew wildly and exuberantly on that old farm because nature had provided conditions appropriate for their growth. I understood then that a garden should mimic nature’s optimum conditions to foster growing herbs.

    My explorations of nearby wetlands and overgrown pastures were influenced by Euell Gibbons’s books Stalking the Wild Asparagus and Stalking the Healthful Herbs, published just a few years before. With new eyes, I saw the wild herbs in relationship to humans and ecosystems. “Weeds” could be nutritious and healing herbs, not unwanted plants; I continue to consult these classics when making wine and jams from wild flowers and fruits.

    My resolve to avoid synthetic pesticides and herbicides was affirmed when I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a frightening treatise revealing that the misuse of these products can cause devastating effects far beyond the garden. Other readings expanded my ­respect for the way some weeds penetrate the soil and accumulate minerals for the use of other plants.


    Organic herbs

    I am ever more firmly convinced that organic growing methods should be used to grow herbs. Whether the plants are intended to be used for their flavor, fragrance, or medicinal value, organic growing just makes sense. Nature is a powerful force, and I want her on my side.

    Organic methods produce plenty of herbs, too. Some years back, in a fertile corner of my kitchen garden, I set out one or two plants each of thyme, sage, tarragon, oregano, and regular and garlic chives. With almost no attention, these plants continue to provide all the cooking herbs I can use. It’s true that the tarragon and chives could use more sun, the sage more dividing, and the thyme more weeding, but these plants just keep growing. I harvest sage, oregano, and thyme year-round, even when they’re blanketed with snow.

    In a comparison of organic and inorganic growing methods, researchers at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in "on" New Haven found that adding only annual leaf compost to a plot resulted in crops equal to those grown on a similar plot that was treated each year with commercial fertilizer and soil amendments. Over the twelve years of the study, total yields were the same, but the compost plot had a healthier pH, contained twice as much organic matter, retained 50 percent more water, and was easier for roots to penetrate.

    Healthy soil: the foundation of organic herbs

    Even the most solitary gardener does not work alone. Each teaspoonful of fertile soil contains up to six billion living creatures—bacteria, fungi, free-living nitrogen-fixers, algae, springtails, mites, worms, millipedes, ants, spiders, and hundreds of other creatures. Some, such as earthworms, aerate and fertilize the soil, while others break down minerals that plants need or prey upon insects. Organic gardening methods encourage this ecosystem, but harsh, acidic fertilizers or other chemical additives can distort or destroy it.

    Ensuring healthy soil is a long-term task that begins with knowing your garden soil (see sidebar on page 48), but nearly all soils benefit from additions of organic matter. Organic matter releases nutrients slowly. It also boosts the soil’s water-holding capacity and air content, which influence the quality of soil life. In most but not all cases, the more organic matter, the more fertile the soil.

    Healthy soil is about one-quarter air, one-quarter water, and about 45 percent mineral particles, or ground-up rocks. The remaining 5 percent is the most important part—organic matter, materials that once held life. In areas devoid of the natural life cycle of plants and animals, organic matter does not return to the earth. My first garden was rich with this material, but a prospective plot by a city sidewalk is unlikely to be so blessed.


    Nutrients for the herb garden

    To jump-start your organic herb garden, you may wish to purchase bags of organic matter to add to your soil. At the same time, however, begin to garden with natural methods that will assure your future herbs of nutrition aplenty for healthy growth.

    Start a compost pile that emulates nature’s cycle of returning plants to the earth. In a year or less, composting produces a fresh, dark humus that will make your garden soil more productive. The compost nourishes the herbs in the garden; later, the spent herbs nourish the ­compost pile. The process costs little or nothing.

    When selecting manure to be turned into the soil, make sure that it is well-rotted and at least a year old or older. Manure that is too fresh can damage plant roots but a more serious problem is the possible presence of Escherichia coli and cryptosporidia. These intestinal microbes, found in the gut of common livestock and poultry, can cause serious illness.


    Green manures

    In my gardens, I grow green manures, or cover crops, dense stands of easily grown plants that protect the soil, provide organic matter, control weeds, and break pest cycles. I use a two-year cycle to rest the soil and replenish nutrients that other plants have removed. Crop rotation is an age-old way of preserving the health of the soil.

    My favorite green manures are white and red clover, along with annual rye. I sow white clover in the paths between my raised herb beds. Tough and prolific, these plants easily endure foot traffic. When mowed, the clover provides a nitrogen-rich mulch that conserves moisture and keeps weeds at bay.

    I use red clover, a bushy upright plant, to replenish the soil in the beds. Root bacteria fix nitrogen, and the aboveground parts make good mulch and compost. You can plant red clover here and there among the herbs, or you can devote a different section of the garden each year to clover. Red clover’s bright pink blooms, three or four to a cup, make an excellent tea. Butterflies and hummingbirds love the flowers for their nectar.

    Annual winter rye grass needs a bit more space than the clovers, but its benefits are many. Soon after the autumn sowing, the rye shows a brilliant green that can persist all winter, repressing weeds and providing young, tasty leaves for salads. I cut the rye for mulch as needed, and use its tall, dried seed heads for decoration. The straw, added to the compost pile, decomposes into long-lasting humus. Left in the ground, rye’s extensive system of fine roots is decomposed gently by the soil’s organisms.

    Nature never “farms” without animals, so I have returned livestock to the ecosystem of my two or three acres of gardens. You might say I have a regular little farm, but even a few chickens or rabbits can make a big difference in soil fertility. In my gardens, I move the hogs and the chickens from one small patch or pen to another throughout the growing season. I let the chickens loose to dine upon insects, including those that damage plants, and to fertilize the area.

    The hogs are the champs at soil preparation, however. They root in the earth for worms and grubs, turning up the soil to the depth of about a foot. Much to their pleasure, I encourage this behavior by dumping fallen leaves and organic food leftovers into their temporary pen. The following year, I seed that plot with rye or clover, and the third year typically sees a bountiful crop of delicious and beautiful herbs.

    Work less, worry less

    Put away your checkbook—despite the claims and pleas of advertisers, you don’t need a lot of “stuff” for organic gardening. In fact, herbs are some of your strongest allies in promoting your garden’s long-term health.


    For instance, insect plant pests are a fact of life, but so are the beneficial ­insects that control them. If pest insects are entirely eradicated, their predators will starve. I plant plenty of coriander, parsley, and their relatives because their small flowers supply nectar to beneficial insects. If it became utterly necessary, I would use a simple solution of garlic or hot pepper blended with water as a repellent spray. Most insect pests, however, yield to the squash ’em method.

    Some herb-garden pests are not what they first seem. When my parsley attracts parsley caterpillars, I know swallowtail butterflies will soon appear—if the caterpillars survive. Nettle is used as a traditional spring vegetable, and herbalists sometimes prescribe nettle tea to alleviate hay-fever symptoms. Like dandelion, yarrow, comfrey, chamomile, and valerian, nettle is an excellent addition to compost piles.

    Other garden “problems” just look bad—they don’t damage plants. Bee balm almost always gets powdery mildew after flowering, and if it really bothers you, consider planting a mildew-resistant variety. I just let it be, however; bee balm is so valuable in providing nectar for pollinators, color in the herb garden, and homemade tea for me that I don’t mind.

    Connecting with the big picture

    Growing herbs provides many connections: to plants, insects, and soil; and to ancient and modern culinary and healing traditions. Growing herbs organically puts us in touch with the ­lifeforce in our gardens. We should remember to be humble in our work and to respect and use nature’s methods.

    Test Your Garden Soil

    GARDEN CENTERS AND CATALOGS usually carry do-it-yourself soil testing kits. The simplest and least expensive ones measure only the pH of the soil. More sophisticated kits also measure nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—the essential elements for plants. These quick, easy tests will give you basic information about your soil, and the enclosed literature typically suggests ways to adjust your soil depending on the test’s results.

    Professional soil tests are more costly and the wait for results can be up to six weeks, but you will get fascinating and highly useful information. If you are starting a new garden, an initial professional test, followed by one every five years or so, will chart your progress in developing healthy soil.

    Some labs send you a kit for gathering and returning the soil; others give specific directions only. Let the lab know that you plan to grow herbs and perhaps other edibles in the garden.

    You can locate a state-sponsored soil-testing laboratory by contacting the Cooperative Extension Service listed under federal, state, or county government in your telephone book. Independent soil-testing laboratories usually provide a more detailed report than state labs, and the reports are very specific. Their services often include recommendations for improving your soil by organic methods.

    Article reprinted with permission from The Herb Companion magazine, a division of  publications.
    To learn more about The Herb Companion magazine please see…..
    To subscribe to The Herb Companion magazine please see….

    Article Written by Bill Duesing

    Bill Duesing is an organic farmer and environmental artist working toward a socially just and environmentally sound future. His commentaries, “Living on the Earth,” can be heard on many public radio stations.

    All rights reserved.
    Copyright © Ogden Publications
    , Inc. 1999

    The Celestial Nature of Plants and Their Special Healing Virtues
    by Veronique Foster   
       Herbalism has regained a lot of respect lately and has helped many people improve and maintain their health. However, it seems to me that most people have lost touch with the true spirit of plants. They have forgotten what healers around the world have known: plants can heal us on a mental and a spiritual level as well as on a physical plane.
       Perhaps, if we go back in time and look at plants the way our ancestors did, we can adjust our perspective on healing and live by this knowledge and wisdom.
       As we take our herbal teas or supplements, we can benefit greatly from putting our intent on the celestial nature of plants and their special healing power and virtues. 
       First, we must consider that our ancestors' understanding of the world was based on the fundamental beliefs that:

      o People, plants, planets and constellations are made of the same elements (fire, earth, air and water) and the same energies (hot/dry, hot/moist, cold/dry, cold/moist). This commonality facilitates 2 people's connection with nature and the universe.

     o The human body is a miniature replica of our solar system with each body part and system symbolically representing a sign and planet.

     o Nature often has a way to tell us what a specific plant is good for.

       This belief has even been attributed to Adam who, in naming the creatures in the Garden of Eden, understood that each name has the power to describe the essence of things. Hence, celestial correspondences were established by keenly observing what a plant is good for, detailed in the Doctrine of Signatures, and by using the language of astrology and its rich, ancient contribution to our medical wisdom.

       In this article, let us focus on some aspects of the Doctrine of Signatures, attributed to Paracelsus (1493- 1541), and begin to understand the richness of its philosophy. A plant's appearance often indicates its celestial correspondence:

    Sun: Plants with heart shaped leaves are used for heart ailments.

    Plants with yellow flowers (Calendula, St. John's Wort) and plants that turn towards the sun (Dandelion) are associated with the Sun.

    Mars: Plants with thorns or prickles (Milk Thistle, Nettle) are identified with Mars, the planet symbolizing a pioneer, combative spirit.

    Saturn: Plants that exhibit a knobby quality may remedy swollen joints, the body part associated with Capricorn, ruled by Saturn.

    Perennials with long lives (Mullein), plants with annual rings or woody plants (Kava Kava) are also identified with Saturn, the planet of aging.

    Mercury: Plants with hairy, fuzzy leaves (Mullein) often correspond to the cilia of the mucus membranes of the lungs, the body part associated with Gemini, ruled by Mercury.

     Plants that have finely divided leaves like the bronchi of lungs (Dill, Fennel) or vines that grow on trees (Honeysuckle) are also associated with Mercury, the planet of communication and planet ruling the nervous system.

    Venus: Plants with lots of mucilage (Marshmallow) soothe irritated mucus membranes, associated with Taurus, ruled by Venus.

    Plants with beautiful flowers (Vervain, Violet) or red fruits (Raspberry) are also linked with Venus, the planet symbolizing beauty. 

    Moon: Plants with little white or pale yellow flowers (Cleavers) and plants with juicy leaves (Catnip) or moon shaped leaves (Caraway).

     Jupiter: Large edible plants (Burdock, Centaury), that remind people of the planet of expansion.  Neptune: Plants growing in or near the ocean (Dulse, Kelp) as Neptune is the Lord of the Oceans.

    A plant's quality often indicates its celestial correspondenceSun: Plants beneficial to the heart and circulation (Motherwort, Ginger)

    Mars: Plants growing under adversity (Elder, Beet, Blackberry).

    Venus: Herbs that calm overindulgence in food (Burdock, Vervain, Sage).

    Saturn: Plants that are grounding (Ho Shu Wu) and help one complete projects on the material plane.

    Mercury: Plants that are good for the nervous system ( Skullcap, Lavender). 
    Moon: Plants that may affect the subconscious.

    Plants living by the water (Peppermint, Watercress).

    Jupiter: Herbs that promote a positive frame of mind and expansion (Oatstraw). 

    Neptune: Mystical herbs that are helpful in dream work (Skullcap) or help bring physical concepts to the next plane (Willow). 

    Uranus: Herbs that are hybrids and easy to transplant as Uranus is the planet of sudden changes. Herbs that energize, stimulate and promote inspiration (Cinnamon, Cloves).

    Pluto: Herbs beneficial for enhancing sexuality (Damiana, Saw Palmetto) and for balancing the physical and spiritual aspects of a personality. 

    How is this wisdom healing? 

    First, all these correspondences demonstrate how harmonious our natural world and our Universe are! As we get a sense of belonging to this organized, beautiful world, we feel more connected and gain a higher consciousness.

    Secondly, by creating a state of resonance with the planetary energy of our choice, we help strengthen our energetic field and connection with ourselves. In fact, famous scientists like Fritz Poppe, William Reich (founder of Orgone Therapy), Harold Saxton, Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne have all demonstrated that we receive planetary energies through our skin, our energetic field or states of resonance.

    Which planetary energy should one support? I recommend that people look at the planets ruling their Sun (Birth) sign, Moon sign or Rising sign: Supporting their Sun Sign will increase their vitality, supporting their Moon sign will nourish their emotional make up and supporting their rising sign will nourish their physical body. Of course, with the help of an astrologer, people can explore many other avenues!
    Copyright 2000, Veronique Foster © All rights reserved 

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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:30 AM)

    Mosquitoes in Your Garden? Try Planting These!
    By Scottie Johnson
    If you are a serious gardener, you spend lots of time outdoors. And, for sure, you would rather be tending your plants than swatting mosquitoes.

    While there are many things you can do to keep mosquitoes away, there are some plants that will beautify your yard and help repel mosquitoes.

    As one more way to keep mosquitoes away from you and your yard, try planting these attractive plants.

    Horsemint has a scent similar to citronella. Horsemint grows wild in most of the Eastern United States, from Mexico, Texas up to Minnesota to Vermont. It is partial to sandy soils and will grow in USDA Zones 5-10. Native Americans used it as a treatment for colds and flu. It has natural fungicidal and bacterial retardant properties because it's essential oils are high in thymol.

    This wonderful herb we use for seasoning is also a great, natural mosquito repellant. It has been used for centuries to keep pesky mosquitoes away. Rosemary is a native of the Mediterranean, so it likes hot, dry weather and well-drained soil. It is hardy in USDA zones 8-10, and must be grown as a pot plant in colder climates. If you happen to live in a part of the country where rosemary does not grow, you can get a good quality rosemary essential oil; mix 4 drops with 1â„4 cup olive oil. Store in a cool, dry place. When it comes to fresh plant oils as natural mosquito repellants, there is every reason to have the plant in your yard, if they will grow in your area. It is an inexpensive and attractive way to boost the appearance of the landscape and have natural mosquito repellants on hand as well.

    Organic gardeners have used marigolds as companion plants to keep aphids away. Mosquitoes don't like its scent any better (and some humans feel the same way). Marigolds are sun-loving annuals that come in a variety of shapes and sizes for almost any landscape. They are quite easy to grow from seed.

    This charming little bedding plant contains coumarin, and mosquitoes detest the smell. It is used in the perfume industry and is even in some commercial mosquito repellants. Don't rub ageratum on your skin, though. It has some other less desirable elements that you don't want to keep on your skin in quantity. Ageratums are annuals, and they come in a muted blue and white that compliments most other plantings.

    There are two types of plants that are called mosquito plants. One is a member of the geranium family that was genetically engineered to incorporate the properties of citronella. Citronella only grows in tropical places, but it is a well known repellant for mosquitoes. This plant was created to bring the repellant properties of citronella into a hardier plant. It will grow where any geranium will thrive. Many have questioned its usefulness as a mosquito repellant, but it is attractive enough to warrant planting for it's ornamental value.

    The other kind of mosquito plant is agastache cana. Its common names include Texas hummingbird mint, bubblegum mint, giant hyssop, or giant hummingbird mint. As you might guess, hummingbirds are quite attracted to it. It is a New Mexico native, also found in parts of Texas. It is, in fact, a member of the mint family and its leaves do have a pungent aroma when crushed. In its native habitat, it is perennial, and is usually hardy in USDA Zones 5a-9a. It blooms late summer to early fall, so it catches hummingbirds on their annual migration. The long, medium pink flowers reel in butterflies as well.

    CATNIP One of the most powerful mosquito repellant plants is ordinary catnip. Recent studies have shown that it is ten times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes. It is a short lived perennial throughout most of the United States. It is easy to grow from seed, and quickly reseeds. Aside from its intoxicating effects on cats, the leaves make a very soothing tea.

    With all of these plants, the leaves must be crushed to release the aroma. Otherwise mosquitoes can't smell them. And, with rosemary and catnip, you can simply crush a few leaves and rub on your skin and clothing to enhance the effect.

    So, next time you are revising your plantings, consider using some of these attractive plants to do more than just enhance the landscape. You can have pretty ornamentals that also drive mosquitoes away.

    Scottie Johnson is a life long mosquito warrior and freelance writer dedicated to eliminating mosquitoes from her life. She is also an organic gardener.

    Grow Your Own Horehound!

    By Brenda Hyde

    Horehound brings to mind the old fashioned horehound candy that so many
    people remember fondly from their childhoods. But horehound, Marrubium
    vulgare, is an herb that can easily be grown in your garden. One plant is enough
    for a family and can be used not only for horehound drops, but also tea and
    homemade cough syrup. Horehound is very easy to grow and can actually become a pest if not watched carefully. It self-seeds readily and rapidly! The flowers should be cut  BEFORE they dry and form seeds. This is one of the reasons it's
    considered a noxious weed in Victoria, Southern and Western Australia plus parts of
    New South Wales. IF left on its own it can spread to the point of covering entire
    pastures. Don't let this stop you from growing it though. Cut the flowers and
    harvest it heavily each season and you should be fine. Horehound is not picky about soil---except if it's wet and heavy. It can even grow in dry, rocky ground in full sun!
    The seed can be sown in the spring after the frost ends. The plant will bloom the second season, but can be harvested the first year since it's the leaves that are mainly used. As mentioned, you want to keep it well pruned and harvested. During the
    second season, cut it immediately after it flowers. The leaves and flowers lose their
    flavor quickly, so snip them into smaller pieces to dry on screens. When dry,
    crumble and store in jars.

    Horehound is hardy to Zone 4 and will grow to about 2 foot tall. The
    leaves are soft and have a wooly crinkled appearance. The small flowers are
    white and attract beneficial wasps and flies to the garden. It's a great
    companion plant for tomatoes and peppers as an added bonus!

    Now, back to using horehound in candy and tea. It's been used for centuries for coughs and other ailments. The FDA took it off the approved list, but not because it was harmful. They didn't see enough scientific evidence to consider it a medicine.

    Before I get to the recipes, I do want to mention a few cautions. Make
    sure you buy or are growing the proper horehound. There is black horehound,
    Ballota nigra which is not related. Also bugleweed, Lycopus virginicus, is known as
    water horehound, but again, it is not related. These plants have their own
    benefits, but they shouldn't be used interchangeably. People with low blood pressure, heart conditions or those using any type of  insulin or related meds should avoid horehound. And lastly, do NOT use horehound if you are pregnant or nursing. The tea can be especially potent, more than the candy, so avoid that at all times if you fit into any of these categories. It's always better to be safe!

    If you aren't scared off at this point (which I hope you aren't!) you can use the following recipes with either fresh or dried horehound.

    Horehound Candy

    Source: Herbal Treasures by Phyllis V. Shaudys


    2 cups fresh horehound, leaves, stems and flowers or 1 cup dried
    2 1/2 quarts water
    3 cups brown sugar
    1/2 cup corn syrup
    1 tsp. cream of tartar
    1 tsp. butter
    1 tsp. lemon juice or 1 sprig lemon balm

    In large saucepan, cover horehound with water. Bring to boil, simmer 10
    minutes. Strain thru cheesecloth and allow tea to settle. Ladle 2 cups
    horehound tea into large kettle. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar.
    Boil, stirring often, until mixture reaches 240 F. Add butter. Continue to boil until candy reaches 300F (hard crack). Remove from heat, add lemon juice. Pour at once into buttered 8" square pan. As candy cools, score into squares. Remove from pan as soon as it is cool. Store in aluminum foil or ziplock plastic bags.


    The recipes vary with the cough syrup. Mainly on the amount of
    sweetener. Horehound does have a bitter taste. Some people can take it more than
    others. But then again, the cough syrup or cough drops that work the best never
    taste good.

    Here is a basic recipe for the cough syrup.


    1/4 to 1/2 cup dried horehound leaves and/or flowers

    1 cup water

    2 cups honey

    1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar (optional)

    Boil horehound in the water for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and
    allow it to sit for 5 more minutes. Strain out the horehound using cheesecloth
    or a very fine strainer. (you don't want particles left in the syrup). Add honey and lemon and stir until it is combined. Pour into a glass jar and cover.

    Use one tablespoon as needed.

    Horehound Tea


    1 cup fresh leaves, or 1/4 cup dried

    1 quart water

    2 tablespoons honey

    1 fresh lemon

    1 tsp. anise seed (optional)

    Place the herbs into a pan, add water and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain the tea, pressing the herbs as you strain. Add the honey and the juice of  the lemon. You may add more honey if you wish. Sip it warm. 2-3 cups per day as needed. You can also add a little bit of fresh ginger in place of the anise seed.

    Herb Snips: Seed Saving 101

    Many herbs guarantee their succession by reseeding themselves. But you can get into the act by gathering seeds for next year's crop. Harvest when seeds are dry and ripe (usually brown or black, and place each variety in a closed paper bag. Dry, separate seeds from chaff, and place in labeled envelopes in an air-tight container. Store on a cool, dark shelf until planting time.

    Easy herb seeds to save:

    • Anise
    • Basil
    • Borage
    • Caraway
    • Chives
    • Coriander
    • Dill
    • Fennel
    • Hyssop
    • Lemon Balm
    • Parsley
    • Sunflower

    Read more herb snips.

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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:31 AM)


    Daylilies are among the most carefree and easy-to-grow perennials. They are very tolerant of a wide range of conditions, and are very forgiving of gardening "mistakes." But it really pays to give your daylilies the best growing conditions possible. They will respond accordingly.

    Where to Plant ~

    Sun: Daylilies love sun, full sun if possible, but will tolerate part-shade conditions. A general rule is to make sure they get at least 6 hours of direct sun a day. Many darker colored varieties will benefit from partial shade in the hottest part of the day.

    Soils: Daylilies will grow in a wide range of soils, from sand to heavy clay, and in a wide range of soil pHs. There are steps you can take to improve your soil, especially if it is predominantly clay or sand. Clay soils can be improved by the addition of compost, humus or peat moss, or sand which will help make it more friable. Sandy soil will benefit from the addition of compost, humus or peat moss which will serve to increase water retention.

    Drainage: Daylilies prefer well-drained soil. In problem areas, one way to achieve adequate drainage is to prepare raised beds.

    Other plants: To avoid root competition for water and nutrients, do not plant daylilies near shrubs or trees if possible. If you can't avoid it, be sure to give them extra water and fertilizer to make up for what the other plants take. An exception is in the South, where daylilies perform well under pine trees, benefiting from their dappled shade.

    When / How to Plant ~

    Spring or Fall planting is recommended, especially in hot areas. Spring shipments should arrive after the ground has thawed and danger of hard frost has passed. Fall shipments should arrive several weeks before freezing weather, although you can plant later if you will mulch the plants.

    Preparing for your new daylilies ~

    Work your ground in advance, incorporating organic material such as compost or well-rotted manure if possible.

    Spacing ~

    Daylily plants come in a wide range of sizes, but here are some general guidelines to follow:

    Small Flower & Miniatures: 16" to 24"
    Large Flowers: 18" to 30"
    For a closed bed or border: 12" to 18"

    Some varieties increase very rapidly and will become crowded over time, sooner, the closer you plant them. If you notice a decrease in blooms because of crowding you will want to divide your daylilies.

    Caring For Your Daylilies ~

    Water: Water is essential for good performance. In sufficient quantity, water helps ensure that you get as many blooms and as large blooms as possible. It is most important that daylilies get sufficient water in the spring, when plants are making scapes and buds, and in summer during bloom season. Daylilies can withstand drought conditions, but you will notice decreased numbers of blooms and smaller bloom sizes.

    A general rule is to try and give your daylilies an inch of water every week - 3 or 4 long waterings to let the water soak in deep.

    Fertilizer: What kind of fertilizer? Because each garden has different soils with different nutrient needs, we hesitate to recommend a specific fertilizer for you to use on your daylilies. In general, though, daylilies are not picky about their fertilizer, and for most home gardeners a complete balanced fertilizer such as 6-12-12 or 10-10-10 will do fine.

    When to apply? Wait until your newly planted daylilies are established, two to three weeks, before you fertilize them. Then a single application in the spring is sufficient for most gardens, although some gardeners choose to fertilize again in the late summer or early fall.

    Mulch: Mulching can be beneficial to your daylilies in several ways. It can help by improving your soil through the addition of organic material, by helping to retain moisture, and by helping to discourage weeds. It can also help keep soil cooler in the winter.

    There are good mulching materials you can use depending on what is available in your area. Wood chips, straw and pine needles are just a few possibilities.

    Grooming: Many daylily growers remove the day's bloom at the end of the day, called dead-heading, to give their gardens a neat appearance.

    Because of the intense summer heat in our area, the foliage on our daylilies often appears somewhat ragged towards the middle to end of the summer. One practice that is found to be very useful to remedy this is that of trimming the foliage, with a weedeater, high-set lawn mower or clippers, to about 6"-10". This promotes the growth of fresh new foliage which keeps the plant looking nice until frost.

    In winter in cold areas, feel free to remove the dead foliage, but realize that you are removing the plant's natural cold-insulator and replace it with mulch if possible.

    Weed Control: There are no easy answers to weeds, as any gardener knows. Daylilies are good at keeping weeds down once they are established, but until then, mulch are hoeing are good weed-control methods. There are various herbicides available for use around daylilies, check with your local garden center or call us for more information.

    Pests: Luckily, daylilies are not very susceptible to pests, and those that do bother them normally do only minor damage. Some of the more common pests are aphids, spider mites, thrips and slugs and snails. These pests may cause bumps on the buds, discolored leaves, bent or twisted scapes and ragged edges and holes on the foliage. It is often difficult to tell what exactly is bothering your plant, and you may want to check with your local agricultural agent and have him test to determine the cause. In the case of aphids or thrips, there are several sprays readily available at your local garden center or home warehouse store.

    Landscaping with Daylilies ~

    Because of their low maintenance and because they do come back year after year, daylilies make great additions to any landscape. Use them as ground covers, to hold banks, as borders along fences and walks, and in decorative beds throughout the landscape. They also make attractive containerized displays.

    Groupings: For the greatest impact in the landscape, plant your daylilies in groups of the same variety.

    Season of color: By selecting daylilies that bloom and rebloom during different times of the season, you can extend your color.


    Tetraploids and Diploids: These terms designate whether a variety has eleven pairs of chromosomes (diploids) or twice as many (tetraploids). If you want to hybridize, you must cross diploids with diploids and tetraploids with tetraploids.

    Dormants and Evergreens: Daylilies vary from dormant varieties (the leaves die completely to the ground in the winter) to evergreen varieties (the leaves try to grow whenever it gets warm) with various degrees of semi-evergreens in between. Gardeners from USDA zones 9 and 10, and other areas that do not have a cold period in the winter should buy only evergreen or semi-evergreen varieties. Northern gardeners in zones 4 or colder may want to stick with dormant varieties, although many semi-evergreen and evergreen varieties will grow well, especially if mulched. One other note: in zones 7/8 and colder, the foliage will typically be frozen to ground regardless of foliage type.

    Seed Pods: Should you leave those seeds pods on the scapes or break them off? The seeds formed in the seed pods are not true to the parent plant and if dropped to the ground may sprout something other than the hybrid you have growing. If you don't care, leaving the seed pods will not harm the plant. If you don't want your hybrid daylily to be mixed with unknown daylilies of unknown color, shape, and hardiness, then removing the seed pods is best practice. Hybridizers purposely pollenate daylily flowers for their hybridizing programs, taking great caution to collect the seed pods before they break open in the garden. They then plant and evaluate the new hybrid plant for 3-4 years before considering introduction into the marketplace.

    .....from The American Hemerocallis Society

    Using and Growing Lemongrass
    By Brenda Hyde

    Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratusis, a tropical herb that is showing up in garden departments and nurseries all over the country. It's not as exotic as you might think and it's one of the "lemon herbs" that is a joy to grow and cook with. It's only hardy to Zone 9, where it will go dormant in the mild winters, and can eventually reach about 9 foot. But in the north where it need to be taken inside, it only reaches about 3 foot or so. Give lemon- grass plenty of water and hot sun for it to do it's best. If you are bringing it inside in the fall, cut it back to about 8 inches. Store it in a cool part of the house and reduce the water to a minimum. It will go dormant until later in the winter when it will start showing signs of growth, then you can move it to a warm sunny window and water as normal. You can remove it from the pot and replant in the ground after all danger of frost has passed. Lemongrass is a wonderful container herb!

    Usually the tender white part of the lemongrass stalk is used for adding to dishes, but the remainder can be used for stocks or infusions or even dried to use in potpourri and tea. So, don't waste any part of it! Some cooks will grind the stalks and use this for seasoning. Or you can treat it more like bay leaf and leave it in larger pieces that can be removed before serving.

    Try tying several blades together with cooking string and place them on top of fish as you are grilling, baking or broiling. Another neat thing to do is to take a few of the blades, tie them together and pound them with a meat tenderizer to bruise them, then use them as a brush to baste meat or seafood as you grill.

    Lemongrass is a great herb to use with chicken. Stuff a roasting chicken with it before baking and season with garlic, pepper and salt for a great dish. Here are a variety of recipes using lemongrass. If you don't grow it look for it in the grocery section with fresh beanspouts and other Asian produce or look for an Asian grocery in your area. You might also find it at a farmer's market. A note on another ingredient-fish sauce. If you cannot locate this, you can substitute a light soy sauce or rice vinegar with a little extra salt added.

    About the author:
    Brenda Hyde is an avid gardener, freelance writer, mom and wife. She is also editor of Old Fashioned Living.

    The Herbal Garden

    Getting Started

    At Herbs and Natural Remedies we are committed to organic methods of gardening.  This is the healthful way to make your garden grow.  It's more simple than you might think.  Stick a seed in the dirt, let it have plenty of sun, give it water, compost and pull the weeds.  The seed will know what it's supposed to do!

    Okay, so maybe it's not quite that easy.  But close!  Probably the most important thing to be concerned with is your soil.  That's the first thing to deal with.  Your soil needs to be nutrient rich, weed-free and able to drain well.  All of these can be achieved even if your soil is not that way right now.  Here's how:

    • Pull or cut weeds.  Remove deep-rooted weeds with a knife or spade and be sure to get as much of the root as possible.
    • If your soil drains poorly, dig out about 12 inches and fill in with 6" of sandy loam, then with organic topsoil.  On top of the beds, place about 4" of compost and top soil mix.  This may look to "tall" but remember that soil settles.
    • If your soil is rich and drains well, you might consider using a bit of compost mixed in your soil for extra insurance.

    Organic compost that you make yourself is the best however, you can buy it.  To make your own, pile up your grass clippings and leaves and let it sit for a few months.  You can also add coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, sawdust and other organic waste (manure, etc).  Turning the mixture with a shovel every so often helps to quicken the process.

    The next step would be to pick seeds and plants that are suited to your growing region.  To find out which region you live in, check with this website: Garden - Hardiness Zones

    When choosing your plants at the store, be sure to get healthy ones.  Examine the plants carefully.  Avoid plants that are wilted or yellowing.  Look for insects.  Also, look at the plants surrounding the ones you want -- If they are unhealthy, yours probably is to, just not showing the signs yet.  The soil can also tell you something as well.  If it smells bad, there's probably something wrong.

    There are three classifications of herbs: annuals, biennials and perennials. Annuals are plants that die every year.  You'll have to replant them every year. They include plants like borage, flax, german chamomile, basil, sweet marjoram, anise, and dill. Biennials are plants that only grow for two seasons.  These include plants like the parsley. Then there are perennials which are plants that once planted they will come back every year.  Some examples of perennials are yarrow, chervil, arnica, wormwood, roman chamomile, fennel, chives, mints, oregano, and some of the lavenders.

    Consider designing your garden layout on paper first.  It's a lot easier and cheaper to make mistakes on paper than in your garden.  Measure your garden site and then draw it to scale on paper.  Mark where trees, buildings, etc., are located.  If you are designing a large garden, make sure to leave room for pathways and keep beds narrow enough to work in.  Choices for plants can be based on color, height, conditions and/or type. Plant in order of descending height.  The tallest in back, the lowest herbs in front.  Or, in an island bed, tallest in the center. 

    There are many books published on growing herbs that will prove useful to you. It's a small investment that can bring you rich results. My favorite book is Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs.  It offers a wealth of information about herbs including gardening, garden design, companion planting and a lot more.

    Once you've made your choices and you're ready to plant, scoop out a hole in your soil and place each plant so that the top of the rootball is even with the soil line and fill in with a mixture of compost and top soil.  Do not plant the stem.  Water each plant well and regularly.

    Your first garden is going to be your learning experience.  You will have some successes and some failures.  That's just how it goes.

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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:31 AM)

    12 Garden Planning Tips

    The trees are budding, the grass is growing, and you're thinking of all
    those wonderful garden plans you never got around to last year. This
    year, get a head start on the season with a few tips to help save time
    and avoid disappointment. And don't forget to involve the kids - this is
    one of the few times you can give them permission to play in the dirt!

    * Even your house plants know it's spring. Repot houseplants that have
    grown too large for their containers. Cut back leggy plants to encourage
    compact growth, and root the cuttings in moist media to increase your
    supply of plants.

    * Check your garden chemicals and dispose of last season's leftovers
    appropriately. Don't buy more chemicals than you can use in a season -
    the smaller the bottle, the better.

    * If your only winter crop was couch potatoes, be careful. Don't strain
    those underworked winter muscles. Bend at the knees and lift with your
    legs, not your back.

    * Enjoying the last fires of the season? Save the ashes - your flower
    beds love them.

    * Divide perennials while your tulips bloom.

    * Many of last year's plants will multiply. If you're going to thin them
    out, pack up a few as gifts for your neighbors (this is a great job for

    * Mint and chives are wonderful - but they can spread everywhere if
    you're not careful. Cut the bottom off a bucket and sink it into the
    ground, then plant inside the rim. No more wandering mint!

    * You broke your back planting bulbs last fall. Now the squirrels think
    they'll make a great snack. Sprinkle a little mustard powder over the
    earth as it begins to thaw and they'll keep away.

    * Mulches can keep the soil from warming up. So wait to apply organic
    mulches after plants are 3 to 4 inches tall and the soil is warm.

    * Daffodils and tulips look great together - outside. As cut flowers,
    daffodils can actually hurt tulip blooms.

    * Starting seedlings in vermiculite to get a jump on the season? Great!
    But be sure to transplant them as soon as the second pair of true leaves
    form, or they'll starve.

    * Herbs are nature's insecticides. Basil planted near tomatoes, for
    example, will repel worms and flies. Nothing beats the fragrance of
    fresh herbs, and they're decorative as well.


    Basil: plant with tomatoes to improve growth and flavor. Plant with
    asparagus to increase vigor. Plant near compost pile to keep insects
    away. Plant around doors and windows to keep insects away. DO NOT plant
    with Rue.

    Bay Leaf: A fresh bay leaf in storage containers of beans or grains will
    deter weevils and moths.

    Borage: Plant with tomatoes, squash, and strawberries to deter hornworms
    and black flea beetles. Also attracts honeybees. Plant as close as
    possible to compost pile; adds potassium, calcium, and other minerals
    when decomposing.

    Caraway: Good for loosening compacted soil.

    Catnip: Deters flea beetles.

    Chamomile: Improves flavor of cabbage and onions. Also promotes growth
    in near-by plants.

    Chervil: Improves growth and flavor of radishes.

    Dill: Improves growth and health of cabbages. DO NOT plant with carrots
    or tomatoes.

    Fennel: DO NOT plant in garden for any reason. Plant separately, plant
    coriander with it to prevent seeds from setting. Attracts bees.

    Garlic: Plant with roses, raspberries, and lettuce to repel aphids and
    japanese beetles, also repels blight from potatoes and tomatoes, flea
    beetles from potatoes, red spiders from tomatoes, and green loopers from
    cabbage. DO NOT plant near peas.

    Horseradish: Plant near potatoes to repel potato bugs. Also at the base
    of fruit trees to fight fruit rot.

    Hyssop: Plant with grapevines to increase grape yield. DO NOT plant with

    Lovage: Plant with any plant; improves health of all vegetables.

    Marjoram: plant with any plant; improves flavor and health.

    Mint: Plant with tomatoes and cabbage to improve health. Also repels
    cabbageworm; black flea beetles from radishes; hornworm from tomatoes;
    ants from most everything.

    Parsley: Plant with roses to repel rose beetles; mix with carrot seeds
    to repel carrot flies; attracts bees second year if allowed to flower.

    Rosemary: Plant with cabbage, beans, and carrots to improve overall health.

    Sage: Repels cabbageworm, and white cabbage butterfly. Also repels
    carrot flies. DO NOT plant near cucumbers.

    Southernwood: Plant near cabbage to repel cabbagemoths; also dried
    leaves repel ants.

    Savory: Plant with beans and onions to improve flavor; repels cabbage
    moths, hornworms, and black flea beetles.

    Tansy: Plant with blackberries, grapes, raspberries, and roses; repels
    cane borers. Also repels flying insects, japanese beetles, striped
    cucumber beetles, squash bugs, cabbageworms, cabbage butterfly, and ants.

    Thyme: Deters cabbage butterfly and cabbageworms.

    Valerian: Plant anywhere in the garden to attract earthworms.

    Yarrow: Plant with any other herb to increase the oils in that herb.
    Also good with any vegetable to improve health and flavor.

    Cold and Flu Garden - Includes Remedy Formulas
    Adapted from Herbal Remedy Gardens, by Dorie Byers

    When cooler winter arrives colds and flus often arrive, too. Raise one of these gardens for an herbal harvest that can be used to treat your cold or flu.

    Simple Solution:
    printer friendly version

      One Group
    A smaller garden for these plants could be tiered or terraced, bordered on two sides by yarrow and echinacea. Plant prostrate rosemary on the bottom row so that it will spill over the edge. Use flat stones stacked on top of each other or cedar logs to support the soil in each tier. Do not use treated lumber, because the chemicals used in treating the wood can leach into the soil and subsequently be absorbed into the herbs.

    For some added character, try placing an old wooden ladder or wagon wheel on your prepared ground. Plant different herbs between the spokes or rungs.

    Plants for Plot Garden #1
    * 1 peppermint
    * 1 catnip
    * 1 cayenne pepper
    * 5 garlic cloves
    * 2 thyme
    * 1 prostrate rosemary
    * 2 yarrow
    * 3 echinacea

    This plan can take up quite a large space. Plant a patchwork quilt of herbs of differing heights, colors, and textures. Remember that the peppermint can become invasive with very little encouragement. To slow it, plant it in a large tub or container with holes in the bottom for drainage and sink it into the ground. Butterflies will be drawn to the echinacea and yarrow.

    Plants for Plot Garden #2

    * 4 thyme
    * 9 garlic cloves
    * 3 cayenne pepper
    * 1 yarrow
    * 2 echinacea
    * 1 peppermint
    * 2 rosemary

    Most people have trouble avoiding a cold or flu, especially in the winter. These recipes will provide you with herbal comfort when you're ill.

    Flavorful, warming, and packed with vitamins, this broth can be sipped easily from a mug.

    6 minced garlic cloves
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 cups water or vegetable broth
    1 teaspoon fine-chopped fresh cayenne pepper, or 1/2 teaspoon dried powdered cayenne
    1 teaspoon fine-chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
    1/2 teaspoon fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    Pinch to 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste, if the vegetable broth is unsalted

    Add the garlic to the olive oil and saute over high heat briefly, until the garlic starts to change color. Add the broth or water, turn the heat down to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add all of the herbs and salt to taste. Simmer for 5 more minutes, then serve. Sip slowly.

    The aromas from this herbal infusion will aid in clearing your stuffy nose.

    2 quarts water
    1/4 cup fresh or 2 tablespoons dried yarrow
    1/4 cup fresh or 2 tablespoons dried peppermint
    1 tablespoon fresh or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
    1 tablespoon fresh or 2 teaspoons dried thyme

    Place the water in a saucepan on the stove. Add all of the herbs. Simmer uncovered over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes. This allows the herbal essences to drift through the house. Do not allow the pan's contents to boil dry.

    To simmer these herbs without having to keep as close an eye on them, place the herbs and hot water in a slow cooker. Leave it uncovered and set on high. This can be left unsupervised for an hour or two.

    This is a most pleasant way to ingest thyme when you're suffering from a cold and congestion

    1 cup honey
    1/2 cup fresh or 1/4 cup dried thyme
    Combine the two ingredients and heat gently over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, making sure the honey does not boil or scorch. Remove from the heat and allow the honey to cool. Strain out the herbs, then bottle the honey and label it. To relieve colds, coughs, and sore throats, take 1 teaspoon of honey three times a day. You can also add a teaspoon to a cup of regular hot tea and sip slowly.

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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:32 AM)

    Woman’s Care Garden - Plus Herbal Remedy Recipes

    These plants are beautiful when grouped together, and will provide women with some of the remedies they need.

    The woman’s care garden features potted herbs in willow or twig baskets of the appropriate size, placed in front of ground-planted fennel. One container holds the lemon balm and chamomile plants, the other contains the red clover. You can place Spanish moss on the surface and edges of each container that is nested in its basket to blend the edges and enhance the serenity of this spot.

    Container Garden Plants
    3 fennel
    1 lemon balm
    7 German chamomile
    1 red clover

    Here are recipes with which to use your herbs:

    Drinking this infusion will help relieve menstrual cramps, but take no more than 2-3 cups a day
    2 teaspoons dried lemon-balm leaves
    1 cup boiling water
    Steep the leaves in the boiling water, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain, then slowly sip the infusion.

    Sipping this infusion will relieve nausea and stomach upset, and lessen menstrual cramps.
    Do not drink more than 2 cups a day.
    2 teaspoons dried German chamomile flowers
    1 cup boiling water
    Steep the flowers in the boiling water, covered, for 15 minutes. Strain, then slowly sip the infusion.

    This infusion, when sipped, will act as a tonic specially suited for women.
    1 teaspoon dried red clover blossoms
    1 cup boiling water
    Add the blossoms to the boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain, then sip the infusion.

    Drinking a tea made with fennel helps to promote the secretion of breast milk in nursing mothers.
    1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
    1 cup boiling water
    Mix the seeds with the boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, and sip the infusion.

    Growing Marigolds

    Marigolds (Tagates erecta) are a hardy annual plant ranging in color from pale yellow to deep orange and rust. There are many varieties of this popular garden favorite from miniature to giant. Growing marigolds in and around vegetable gardens can also help prevent insect damage.

    Site Preparation:
    Marigolds like full sun and a rich, well-drained soil. They are easy to grow, however, and will tolerate average to slightly poor soils. Generous amounts of compost and organic matter will improve the health of your marigolds tremendously. Keep the soil moist, but not wet.

    How to Plant:
    Sow seed directly in the ground and cover with about 1/4 inch of soil. Water thoroughly. Thin to 8-18 inches apart after they have sprouted. Marigolds can also be started early indoors for transplanting outdoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost date.

    Once established and healthy, marigolds will continue growing easily even if left unattended. Water to keep the soil moist but not wet.

    Provide nutrients monthly with a flowering fertilizer once they have begun blooming. Pinch off the spent blooms to extend the flowering season. Mulch, if desired, to prevent weeds and improve aesthetics. They will not survive a hard frost or freeze.

    Insects and Disease:
    Insects do not like marigolds, and they can be used around cabbage and broccoli to help deter and repel cabbage moths. Slugs do enjoy marigolds, however, and can decimate the plants overnight. Watch carefully for them and treat as soon as damage is visible.

    Seed Saving Instructions:
    Marigolds will produce lots of seed in a similar fashion to a zinnia or calendula. When the blooms dry out, cut them off and hang upside down in bunches. The seeds are contained in the heads and, once dry and crisp, can be lightly hand-crushed and winnowed from the seed chaff.

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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:34 AM)


    Want to add more fragrance to your garden? Then try some of the plants from this list.

    Abelia – Blossoms have a soft vanilla scent.
    Acacia – The flowers and sap have a sweet scent. Violet like scent
    Achillea – Pungent, refreshing to smell, similar to feverfew.
    Acorus – Both leaves and roots have a strong cinnamon like aroma.
    Agonis flexuous – fragrant foliage.
    Albizzia – Flowers smell similar to sweet peas.
    Aloysia triphylla – lemon scented foliage. Alyssum – Sweet, honeyed and refreshing. Amaryllis – Very sweet.
    Angelica – Stalks and seeds have a musky aroma.
    Anthemis – Refreshing and pungent. The foliage has a fruity, apple like scent.
    Antolina – strong and pungent.
    Artemisia – Pungent but pleasant.

    Backhousia – scented foliage.
    Baeckea – stron similar to camphor. Banksia sp. – honey scented blooms.
    Bauhinia – similar to vanilla.
    Bilbergia – soft and sweet.
    Borage – Very fresh and similar to cucumber.
    Boronia – Sweet, fresh and lemony.
    Buddleja – sweet, musky and honeyed.
    Buxus – Quite strong and pungent.

    Calendula – warm and pungent.
    Callistemon citrinus – scented foliage.
    Carum – sweet and spicy.
    Cassia – sweet and vanilla like.
    Centaurea – Rich, musky and very sweet.
    Cestrum – very sweet and fruity.
    Cheiranthus – sweet, spicy and quite similar to stock.
    Choisya – Heavy, sweet and orange like.
    Cistus – sweet and balsamic.
    Citrus – Extremely rich, spicy and sweet.
    Clematis – Soft and sweet. Especially at night. Cleome – sweet
    Clerodendron – sweet and light.
    Coleonema – scented foliage. Convallaria – very sweet and slightly spicy. Coriandrum – very aromatic, spicy and pungent. Cornus – soft and sweet. Crassula fernwood – strong and sweet –similar to jasmine.
    Crinum – Rich, soft and honeyed. Crocus – Sweet and honeyed. Some species are musky.
    Crowea – sweet and lightly honeyed.
    Cyclamen – Pretty and sweet and some have a vanilla scent.
    Cymbidium – a long lasting sweet and delicate scent
    Cymbopogon (lemon grass) – Lemon scent
    Cytisus – fruity and pineapple-like

    Daphne – Sweet, spicy clove or violet like.
    Darwinia citriodora – lemon scented foliage.
    Datura – Soft exotic and lily like.
    Delphinium – musky
    Dendrobium Vanilla, musk like or violet like.
    Dianthus – Spicy, cinnamon or clove like.
    Dichopogon – soft smelling flowers.

    Erica – Tangy.
    Erisotemon – slightly pungent.
    Escallonia – foliage is pungent. Flowers have a sweet, faint perfume.
    Eucalyptus – pungent, honey, peppermint or lemon scented.

    Foeniculum – pingent.
    Freesia – Sweet and violet like.

    Galanthus (snowdrop) – sweet and almond like.
    Galium – sweet.
    Galtonia very light and sweet.
    Gardenia – heavy, rich and very sweet.
    Genista – sweet like vanilla or pineapple.
    Gladiolus – clove like or violet like.
    Gordonia – sweet and light.
    Grevillea – honeyed.

    Hedychium – sweet and heavy.
    Helichrysum – flowers and foliage quite pleasantly pungent.
    Heliotrope - vanilla
    Helleborus – sweet and powerful. Hoya – sweet and honeyed.
    Humulus – aromatic and yeasty.
    Hyacinth – strong sweet scent
    Hypericum – balsamic and pleasant.

    Iberis – very sweet
    Indigofera – vanilla
    Ipomea moonflower – strong and sweet more so at night.
    Iris – Sweet varieties vary.

    Jacaranda – soft and sweet.
    Jasmine – Heavy and sweet.

    Lathyrus (sweetpea) – sweet and vanilla like
    Laurus (bay tree) – pungent and aromatic.
    Lavander – sharp, clean and fresh. Leptospermum – lemony foliage. Sweet flowers.
    Leucadendron – soft and sweet
    Lilium – orangey, spicey or honeyed.
    Lonicera (honeysuckle) – sweet and honeyed.
    Luculia – soft – incense like
    Luma apiculata – honeyed. Lupins – perennials smell peppery or clove like. Annuals are sweeter with overtones of violet or vanilla.

    Magnolia – rich and fruity Mahonia – very sweet.
    Malus – sweet and pronounced
    Mandevilla – sweet flowers.
    Matthiola (stock) – clove like and swet
    Melaleuca – leaves are aromatic. Sweet and lemony.
    Melia azedrach – scented flowers.
    Mentha – crisp cool and sweet.
    Michelia – strong sweet smelling flowers.
    Mirabilis – fruity sweet and refreshing
    Monarda – orange like.
    Murraya – jasmine like
    Muscari – Incense or musk like.
    Myosotis – fresh and delicate more so at night.
    Myrtle – Fresh and slightly antiseptic

    Narcisssus – delicate sweet and fresh.
    Nasturtium – spicy foliage.
    Nemesia – strong sweet scent.
    Nepeta – strong smelling foliage.
    Nicotiana – rich and sweet more so in the evening.
    Nymphaea (waterlily) – exotic and heavy

    Ocimum (basil) – pingent slightly clove like.
    Oenothera (evening primrose) – sweet, slightly lemony more so in the evening. Origanum – sweet and slightly spicy
    Osmanthus – sweet

    Paeonia – rose scented.
    Passiflora – delicate and honeyed. Paulownia – incense like.
    Pelargonium – range vary greatly
    Phebalium – scented foliage.
    Philadelphus – strong and sweet.
    Phlox – sweet and musky
    Pieris – quite strong
    Plumeria – sweet and rich more so in the evening
    Primula – sweet and mossy.
    Prostanthera – fresh smelling minty foliage.
    Prunus – delicate and honeyed.

    Rhododendron – scented flowers.
    Romneya – exotic and sweet strongest in the evening.
    Rose – varying in intensity
    Rosemary – pungent and tangy.
    Rue – sharp and pungent.

    Salvia – some species have fragrant foliage.
    Sambucus (elder) – musky and sweet.
    Santalum (sandalwood) – exotic, sharp and aromatic.
    Sarcocca confusa – strong and sweet
    Schinus (pepper tree) – spicy foliage
    Saponaria – sweet with a slight hint if cloves.
    Satureja (savory) – pungent and refreshing.
    Scilla – Delicate perfume
    Syringa – sweet and penetrating.

    Tanacteum – pleasantly pungent.
    Thyme – strong and fresh.
    Trachelospermum – sweet smelling flowers.
    Tuberose – sweet.
    Tulip – softly sweet.

    Verbena – soft and very sweet.
    Viburnum – sweet and honeyed
    Viola – Sweet
    Virgillia – softly sweet.

    Wisteria – very delicate

    .....courtesy of 'Montburg Gardens'


    "Yes, in the poor man's garden grow
    Far more than herbs and flowers -
    Kind thoughts, contentment, peace of mind,
    And joy for weary hours."
    ...Mary Botham Howitt (1799-1888)

    We all carry memories of pansies with us from our earliest childhood recollections of gardens and gardening. The beaming faes of these flowers create indelible images, though of course, they are not the only plant that lodges in our young minds; we remember our first encounter with gigantic sunflowers too, our first whiff of pungent tomato foliage, and our earliest taste of freshly picked raspberried. But the pansy alone stands out as the only flower to smile back at you, and when you are young (and child-sized) the flowers faces seem as big as your own.
    Pansies are available in a disarming array of color combinations. When this attribute is combined with their light and sweet scent, their ease of culture, their passionate and romantic magical and medicinal history, and their inclination to bloom throughout mild winters, it is easy to see why pansies have become one of the most widely cherished herbaceous garden flowers in America and Europe.


    One of the most interesting aspects of the modern garden pansy is that it does not exist in the wild. While most of the familiar garden objets - trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, and herbs - were derived from the careful selection and propagation of wild plants, the garden pansy was intentionally developed by gardeners who hybridized several European wildflowers to create a genetic base. The pansy therefore did not exist until the 1820's, and it never grew in American soil until just prior to the civil War. And, truth be known, the parental history of this flower is complex and steeped in mythology, folklore, religion, and magic.
    The modern garden pansy belongs to the plant family 'Violaceae', or the violet family. The flowers typically have five petals - four arranged in pairs - with each pair differig (this configuration is known as zygomorphy to botanists). The genus 'Viola' encompasses about 500 species, including the garden pansy, viola, violetta, and violet. Etymologically, the name Viola comes from Greek myth. Zeus hid his love for Io, a virgin priestess, from his wife Hera by transforming her into a white heifer. He made sweet violets spring from the ground for her to graze upon, and named the flowers, 'ion, or 'vion', depending on pronounciation, which eventualloy became viola.
    Botanically, the garden pansy is known as 'Viola x wittrokiana'. Taxonomically, the little "x" in the scientific name tells us that plant is the hybrid offspring of different species parents - either from natural or human induced mutation. Interestingly, at the turn of the century, the flower was alternately known as 'Viola tricolor maxima' (the "Big" Johnny-Jump-up), and 'V. t. bortensis' (the "Garden-worthy" Johnny-jump). The modern garden pansy was bred and selected in victorian England during the 1820's through 1840's by a horticulturist known only as Thompson. Mr. Thompson worked on hybridizing 'Viola tricolor', a native of Europe, Asia, and the Baltic region, with 'V. lutea' subspecies 'sudetica' (the yellow-flowered Hudson mountain pansy), which is indigenous to western and central Europe. Botanists also speculate whether he incorporated a third species into the mix - 'V. altaica' (the Altai Mountain pansy), a native to the Crimea and Altai Mountains. By midcentury, there were over 400 cultivars available of the pansy, divided into two types - fancy pansies and show pansies. Varieties of the latter are further subdivided into three classes according to flower dolor - selfs, white grounds, and yellow grounds. The selfs have black, maroon, primrose, white or yellow flowers.
    The common name "pansy" may have originated from two different derivations. The first is from the French word 'pensee', meaning thought or remembrance. The other may be a corruption of "pain's ease," an allusion to the flower's analgesic properties. Indeed, all parts of the Johnny-jump-up variety are medicinally valuable. The salicylic acid it contains is an active disinfectant, fungicide, and tissue solvent that can be applied as a poultice to soften hard skin, corns, and warts. The cucilaginous quality of the foliage also lends itself to expectorant, demulcent (inflammation soothing), laxative, and diuretic recipes, and it may be taken internally to cleanse the system and stimulate the metabolism. The juice pressed from the fresh foliage is also prescribed for rheumatism and skin diseases such as cradle cap (tinea capitus or ringworn of the scalp), impetigo, and scabies. For cradle cap and impetigo, take a daily dose (2-5 drops for children, 15-20 drops for adults) by mouth for a week or two. For scabies, use it in combination with baths taken with green soap and sulphur powder or ointment until symptoms are alleviated.
    'Viola tricolor' has additional homeopathic uses as well. An overnight infusion of a quart jar filled with fresh leaves and topped with boiling water (and subsequently strained) is good for cancer, fibrocystic breast disease, or mastitis, and it makes a good gargle or mouthwash for gingivitis, ulceration of the mouth, and pain from mouth and herpes sores. Additionally, this infusion is good for the nervous system, eyestrain, too much sunlight, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections. (Be sure to see a doctor is you suffer any of these symptoms).
    Though this plant was once formally included in the united STates pharmacopeia, do double-check with your homeopathic healer or general practitioner before using it, as it is always better to be safe than sorry. Some people react dermatologically when they come in contact with the leaves, and too large doese of the roots (which are edible, and high in minereals) can cause stomach upset, nervousness, high blood pressure, and breathing irregularity.


    The black markings and the petal arrangement are what has given the Johnny-jump-up the reputation of having a face. This human visage has led to scores of common names for the plant - including monkey faces, Kit-run-about, peeping Tom, and "three faces in the hood." 'Viola tricolor' has also been called the herb trinity, in reference to the three colors always associated with it. It symbolizes love and truth, or passion and suffering. Its shade of purple is common in artistic depictions of Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary after the crucifixion. It is always allegorically associated with the Virgin and with the unicorn (the emblem of purity).
    'V.tricolor' also was beloved as an ingredient of love philters or potions. in the latin era, this pansy was called 'Flos Jovis' (Jove's flower), an allusion to its purported aphrodisiacal attributes. The ancient Celts used the dried flowers and leaves in decoctions intended to seduce and inflame. Folklore has it that at one time all pansies were pure white, but were made purple when pierced by Cupid's arrow. After reading accounts of the flower i the Renaissance herbals of John Gerarde in 1587, William Shakespeare became well aware (as was all of Tudor and Jacobean England) of the pansy's magic. He referred to the pansy (both literally and alleforically) in several of his plays, including 'King Lear', Troilus and Cressida', 'Taming of the Shrew' and 'As You Like It'. The pansy, called love-in-idleness, is integral to the plot of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream). In this play, Oberon, the Faerie King, inquires of Puck about using the pansy on his estranged, sleeping wife, the Faerie Queen, Titania.
    "It fell upon a little western flower,
    Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound,
    And maidens call it, love-in-idleness.
    Fetch me that flower; the herb I showed thee once:
    The juice of it, on sleeping eye-lids laid,
    Will make a man or woman madly dote
    Upon the next live creature that it sees."
    in addition to love-in-idleness, the pansy had many common names during the Middle Ages and the Jacobean era: heart's-ease or heartsease, ladies' delight, cuddle-me, Kitty-come, cull-me-to-you, tickle-my-fancy, kiss-her-in-the-pantry, and meet-he-in-the-entry-kiss-her-in-the-buttery (which must be the longest and most intirguing common plant name in English)! The Victorian horticulturist and landscapist Gertrude Jekyll referred to it with the epithet welcome-home-husband-be-he-ever-so-drunk.
    English Jacobite ppoet, Robert Herrick (1591-1674), explained the naming of the heartsease. in "Hos Pansies or Heart's-ease Came First":
    "Frolic virgins, once there were,
    Over loving, living here,
    Being here their ends denied,
    Ran for Sweethearts mad and died.
    Love, in pity of their tears,
    And their loss in blooming years,
    For their restless here spent hours
    Gave them Heart's-ease, turn'd to flowers."
    Romantic-period English poet Mary Botham Howitt (1799-1888) also contemplated the heartsease:
    "Heart's-ease! one could look at it for half a day
    Upon this flower, and shape in fancy out
    Full twenty different tales of love and sorrow,
    That gave this gentle name."
    Another poet of the era, Walter Savage landor (1775-1864), described his fascination with a single pansy flower in "One Pansy".
    "One Pansy, one, she bore beneath her breast,
    A broad white ribbon held the Pansy tight.
    She waved about nor looked upon the rest,
    Costly and rare; on this she bent her sight."
    And in 1884, the preeminent female Victorian artist Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) published her 'Language of Flowers', a work she wrote and illustrated. This particular work encapsulates the Victorian tradition of employing flowers and plants to express feelings (as opposed to actually speaking ten), both positive and negative, in a subtle manner. That is, people of the era, through the giving and receiving of carefully-crafted tussie-mussies, nose-gays, and "Talking bouquets", expressed notions of love and desire that could not be spoken. Every blossom and piece of greenery would have a specific subliminal connotation or hidden message, such as:
    "Pansies in a bouquet convey the message of thoughts."
    Today, floral tokens conveying every human emotion can be assembled at home from the garden-picked, or florist-procured flowers. of course, deciphering the messages in the flowers is a forgotten skill now. Below are some common varieties of flowers, along with their traditional unspoken meanings.


    Arborvitae: Unchanging friendship
    Cinquefoil: Maternal affection
    Cup-and-Saucer Vine: Gossip
    Double China Aster: I partake of your sentiments
    Helen's flower: Tears
    Lavender: Distrust
    Lesser celandine: Joys to come
    Michaelmas Daisy: Farewell
    Oleander: Beware
    Pansy: Thoughts
    Quamaclit: Busybody
    Sage: Domestic Virtue
    Thrift: Sympathy
    Weeping Willow: Mourning
    Yellow Rose: Decrease of love


    Garden pansies began to wane in popularity between the two world wars, mostly because they were so labor intensive to propagate. Pansies do not breed true from seed and have to be increased manually by cuttings. During this time many of the older cultivars were lost completely. Still, some heirloom varieties are available today. The bronze and yellow Jackanapes variety (named after Jekyll's pet monkey) dates from about 1890, and the pale lavender and primrose Maggie Mott dates to 1902.
    Thankfully, garden pansies have recently grown popular once again. Breeders are developing countless new cultivars, and bountiful varieties of the pansy satisfy every taste. The current trend seems to be leaning away from the flowers with familiar black blotches, and more towards pastel selfs in varieties such as the tangerine jolly joker, the pale-yellow clear sky primrose, and the silver-pink sterling silver. And whereas garden pansies in the past would dwindle and succumb to summer's warmth, new heat-resistant pansy varieties are being offered - including water colors mixed, frosty rose, and velour clear blue.
    To grow in areas with mild winters, sow packaged seed (not collected seeds unless the label of the original seed packet claims the variety "Breeds true from seed"), or set out plants in early fall for hibernal blooms. Where summers are hot, sow seed indoors during January or February, and set out young plants in early spring. All pansies prefer a rich loamy soil and plenty of moisture. Picking through the season will keep them in flower.
    In addition, we cannot overlook the fact that the flowers and foliage of pansies are delightfully edible - and surprisingly high in vitamin C and A. The lightly fragrant blossoms have a faint lettuce-like taste, and can be used in salads, glazed onto frosted cookies, and affixed to ganache-covered cakes. Also, pansies may be encased within shimmering layers of white wine aspic over cold poached chicken breasts, salmon fillets, or pale wheels of brie and camembert. They may also be frozen in ice to decoratively chill party beverages, and they may be candied.
    In 1901, Alice Morse Earle, one of America's first female landscapedesigners, summed up the pansy most eloquently:
    "These little (pansies) have infinite variety of expression; some are laughing and roguish, some sharp and shrewd, some surprised, others worried...a few are saucy to a degree, [but] all are animated and vivacious".

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    From: USA

    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:35 AM)


    If you cook Italian food at home, you probably keep a good supply of oregano on hand. But once you've tasted oregano you've grown yourself, those tiny jars on the supermarket shelves will never look the same again.


    Things You'll Need ~

    Drying Screens Or Racks
    Garden Shears
    Gardening Gloves
    Olive (not Virgin) Oil
    Unsalted Butter
    Freezer Containers
    Glass Storage Jars
    Ice Cube Trays
    Plastic Storage Bags

    Step One:
    Pick individual oregano leaves to use fresh throughout the growing season.

    Step Two:
    Harvest larger amounts by cutting back the entire oregano plant three times during the season: first when the plant is about 6 inches tall, again just before it starts to flower, and a third time in late summer.

    Step Three:
    Store fresh oregano in plastic bags in the refrigerator.

    Step Four:
    Freeze oregano to retain the most flavor and aroma. Freeze entire branches on cookie sheets, then strip the leaves from the stems and put them back into the freezer in plastic containers. Or mix finely chopped oregano leaves with just enough olive oil or butter to bind them together, and freeze the mixture in ice cube trays.

    Step Five:
    Dry oregano by cutting entire stalks from the plant and hanging them in a warm, dry, well-ventilated spot. Store dried oregano leaves in an airtight jar.

    Tips :
    Pick oregano in the morning after the dew has dried on the leaves but before the sun's heat can dissipate the volatile oils that give the plant its distinctive flavor and aroma.

    Though frozen oregano tastes much better than the dried form, it is limp and unattractive. Use it in stews, casseroles and other dishes when taste matters more than appearance.

    Herb Gardening the Ancient Way

    The traditional wiccan herb garden is in the shape of a five-pointed star set inside a nine foot circle. Choose a sunny area, preferably a private spot. Map out the circle by inserting a broken limb at the center. Tie one end of a four and a half foot string loosely about the limb and the other end to the handle of your athame. Pulling the string taut from the center, trace a nine foot circle on the ground.

    The ideal time to begin is in the fall during a waning moon in a barren moon sign. Consecrate the entire area with incense and purified water. Consecrate your garden tools as well, asking for the Gods' blessings. Then begin turning the soil to a depth of 13 inches. Remove any weeds to your compost pile and break up any large clods of earth. Cover the area with several inches of compost or natural fertilizer and leaves. This can be left to winter over. Turn over lightly again in the spring.

    If you had rather begin in the spring, wait until the soil has warmed up and be sure to add only composted manure to the garden plot. Remove any rough debris and turn up the nine foot circle of earth. The top point of the star should be in the North. Use a compass or go to the garden spot on a clear night and locate the North Star which is always on a direct line out from the top of the Big Dipper's cup. With more string, lay out a five pointed star inside the circle. In the center of the star place a special stone or rock painted with the sun's symbol or a growth rune.

    We chose to use the center of our magick garden for a water garden with lotus, water lilies, oxygenating plants and gold fish. At night the reflection of the moon in the water is an added bonus. A tub water-garden will work just fine. The fish take care of the mosquitoes.

    This is a great water source for the birds which are only too happy to assist in insect control. Welcome them with a few bird houses and supply an occasional seed feast especially during the colder months.
    Before planting seedlings or seeds refer to A Magick Garden Sun & Lunar Calendar for the fertile signs of the waxing moon. Use five perennial herbs particularly of the same growth height. Beginning toward the east, place one to three plants of the same herb in each point of the star. You can get a head start by starting your own plants from seed inside six to eight weeks before the last frost. Be sure to harden the plants before planting in the garden. You do this by setting the seedlings out in a sheltered area for a few hours a day until it is time to plant them in the ground.

    Garden Chant

    "With limb and string I draw a circle
    On consecrated ground.
    And a pentagram inscribe therein
    This garden round.

    I plant the seeds of charm and spell
    In a waxing moon.
    With love and tender care I toil
    to this witch's rune.

    Earth to turn,
    Air to cool,
    I quench the thirst with water pure.
    Sun, bring forth my hardy plants
    For amulet and cure."

    Instead of simple ivy and ferns, why not try keeping useful herb plants on your window sill?
    Many garden plants can be transplanted indoors for the winter, so you can enjoy them year-round.
    I bring in my rosemary and lavender for their scent.
    Chives and parsley can also live indoors, enabling anyone to have freshly picked green herbs year round.
    Thyme does well if it’s in a large enough pot with plenty of Sun.
    Basil and marjoram grow quickly from seed in a pot on a window sill. If you find garlic starting to sprout, you can plant it, root down, and grow more garlic indoors.
    Most of these plants have magical or healing get your witchy garden ready and bring those plants from outside to indoors and have a special indoor garden year around!!

    Divide any larger clumps of your perennial herbs such as lovage, catnip, mint, chives, thyme, sage, lemon balm, Winter savory or oregano. Give them away if you don't have room for another plant or leave one in the ground and try one in a pot that you can bring in later.

    Remember that some herbs like the mints and horseradish can be invasive, so grow them in very large containers that are buried in the ground if you need them to be contained. I've grown many of the mints without a problem, but one year I planted pineapple mint and didn't pay attention to it. It took over the herb bed! Chocolate mint starts out fairly tame and then wanders every which way, so don't be fooled by mints that start out slowly. You can bury other "dividers" such as pieces of tin or other metal around the mint to contain it too.

    Horseradish roots are hard to dig up because they are so long, so use the buried pot method to contain it. By the way, if you want the horseradish a little milder, try digging the root in the spring instead of waiting til later in the summer or fall.

    Once the frost has passed there are many herbs you can direct sow. Herbs that are fairly easy to grow from seed are: Dill, chives, calendula, basil, fennel (grow away from dill), salad burnet, sweet cicely, nasturtium, borage, cilantro, and cress are a few. Always pick the rocks and large clumps out of the soil where you direct seeds.

    If you are just beginning with herb gardening, remember that Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme and lavender prefer a dry, very well drained soil in a hot, sunny location. Other herbs like mint, basil, parsley, lemon balm like the soil fertile and are not as drought tolerant. Group together herbs that like the same type of environment when planning out your garden.

    MORE: Tips on including herbs within your flower beds! 

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    RE:Herbal and Floral Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:36 AM)

    Moving Herbs Indoors
    There is a process for moving your herbs indoors if you want them to grow well. First, gradually move your herbs indoors for a few hours at a time. A sheltered, shady deck or porch will work too at first. I don't have a lot of window space so I only move a few each season. I have a scented geranium that I've brought in two years in a row now. You are "acclimatizing" the herbs to their new location by doing it this way. After they are on the porch for a few days I then start moving them indoors gradually.

    Herbs grown indoors will need the brightest window you can put them in front of or you can use fluorescent lights. Remember, they love full sun outside, so they need bright light indoors. When you place herbs on a sunny window ledge or shelf be sure to turn them a few times a week, so they don't "lean" towards the sun. If they become leggy then trim them evenly all around. (And of course use the cuttings in your cooking.) Water your indoor herbs only when the soil is dry; using enough water so that a little bit drains out the bottom of the pot. BUT don't over water, this will rot the roots. This is especially important with rosemary. ONLY water when the soil has dried-the leaves will turn brown if it's kept too moist.

    When you are potting up herbs for indoors try adding some gravel to the bottom of the pot to help with drainage, and a handful of sand to the potting soil too. It's also beneficial if you can add a teaspoonful of lime to the soil mix (per 5 inch pot) to sweeten it BUT if you don't have any on hand don't buy a large bag just for this. Ask around, maybe someone you know will have some they are using in a garden or lawn. Also, read your bag of potting soil-some do include lime.

    It's important that your herbs aren't pot bound, but at the same time you don't want the pot too large. You want the roots "comfortable" but not smashed up against the pot trying to get out.

    Your herbs should be brought indoors before frost, with the exception of chives, tarragon and mint. Allow them to remain outdoors for a light frost, then bring them indoors. Once the herbs are indoors, you'll have to watch for pests like aphids,
    spider mites, and whiteflies. Remember, you don't want to use any chemicals on your herbs. Try natural sprays if it becomes necessary. Also, try to keep the plants away from cold drafts or direct heat from a vent. In other words, you want to keep the temperature as even as possible.

    Winter can be a dreary time for gardeners, especially in cold climates, but the smell and taste of fresh herbs is certainly a boost on cold, snowy days!
    ~~used with permission~~

    Moving Herbs Indoors
    There is a process for moving your herbs indoors if you want them to grow well. First, gradually move your herbs indoors for a few hours at a time. A sheltered, shady deck or porch will work too at first. I don't have a lot of window space so I only move a few each season. I have a scented geranium that I've brought in two years in a row now. You are "acclimatizing" the herbs to their new location by doing it this way. After they are on the porch for a few days I then start moving them indoors gradually.

    Herbs grown indoors will need the brightest window you can put them in front of or you can use fluorescent lights. Remember, they love full sun outside, so they need bright light indoors. When you place herbs on a sunny window ledge or shelf be sure to turn them a few times a week, so they don't "lean" towards the sun. If they become leggy then trim them evenly all around. (And of course use the cuttings in your cooking.) Water your indoor herbs only when the soil is dry; using enough water so that a little bit drains out the bottom of the pot. BUT don't over water, this will rot the roots. This is especially important with rosemary. ONLY water when the soil has dried-the leaves will turn brown if it's kept too moist.

    When you are potting up herbs for indoors try adding some gravel to the bottom of the pot to help with drainage, and a handful of sand to the potting soil too. It's also beneficial if you can add a teaspoonful of lime to the soil mix (per 5 inch pot) to sweeten it BUT if you don't have any on hand don't buy a large bag just for this. Ask around, maybe someone you know will have some they are using in a garden or lawn. Also, read your bag of potting soil-some do include lime.

    It's important that your herbs aren't pot bound, but at the same time you don't want the pot too large. You want the roots "comfortable" but not smashed up against the pot trying to get out.

    Your herbs should be brought indoors before frost, with the exception of chives, tarragon and mint. Allow them to remain outdoors for a light frost, then bring them indoors. Once the herbs are indoors, you'll have to watch for pests like aphids,
    spider mites, and whiteflies. Remember, you don't want to use any chemicals on your herbs. Try natural sprays if it becomes necessary. Also, try to keep the plants away from cold drafts or direct heat from a vent. In other words, you want to keep the temperature as even as possible.

    Winter can be a dreary time for gardeners, especially in cold climates, but the smell and taste of fresh herbs is certainly a boost on cold, snowy days!
    ~~used with permission~~


    Divide any larger clumps of your perennial herbs such as lovage, catnip, mint, chives, thyme, sage, lemon balm, winter savory or oregano. Give them away if you don't
    have room for another plant or leave one in the ground and try one in a pot that you can bring in later.

    Remember that some herbs like the mints and horseradish can be invasive, so grow them in very large containers that are buried in the ground if you need them to be contained.  I've grown many of the mints without a problem, but one year I planted pineapple mint and didn't pay attention to it. It took over the herb bed! Chocolate mint starts out fairly tame and then wanders every which way, so don't be fooled by mints that start out slowly. You can bury other "dividers" such as pieces of tin or other metal around the mint to contain it too.

    Horseradish roots are hard to dig up because they are so long, so use the buried pot method to contain it. By the way,if you want the horseradish a little milder, try digging the rootin the spring instead of waiting til later in the summer or fall.

    Once the frost has passed there are many herbs you can direct sow.  Herbs that are fairly easy to grow from seed are: dill, chives, calendula, basil, fennel (grow away from dill), salad burnet, sweet cicely, nasturtium, borage, cilantro, and cress are a few. Always pick the rocks and large clumps out of the soil where you direct seeds.

    If you are just beginning with herb gardening, remember that Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme and lavender prefer a dry, very well drained soil in a hot, sunny location. Other herbs like mint, basil, parsley, lemon balm like  the soil fertile and are not as drought tolerant. Group together  herbs that like the same type of environment when planning out your garden

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