Sunday, April 18, 2010
I am growing herbs based on my favourite herbal - A Woman's Book of Herbs, by Elisabeth Brooke. Here I have sown quite a variety - centaury, vervain, artemesia, agnus castus, pennyroyal, yarrow, fennel and hyssop, and today I put in some meadosweet and great mullein. I also broadcast eyebright seeds over the back lawn (sic), and I have valerian and elecampane still to go in on the next root day. Most of the herbs in the book are considered wildflowers at best, or more often, weeds - many already grow abundantly in the garden - nettles, shepherd's purse, horsetail, cleavers and chickweed, or are staple herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme and lavender. The ones I have sown this year are much rarer where I live - more and more of the green spaces are being concreted over in the name of progress, so these old helpers are being lost to us and I do not like to collect plants from the wild, as they are scarce enough.
I know some of these herbs could be considered - well - controversial I suppose. Artemesia is also known as wormwood, and some of the others were recommended by Culpeper to bring on a delayed period. They are all plants that would be used by the wisewoman! In the book, Ms Brooke details the myths and legends surrounding each plant, then indicates their physical, emotional and magical uses - some of these are very intriguing.. It is a wonderfully subversive book, and I did feel at bit of a rebel in my own greenhouse today!