Wild, white yarrow gathered from the East Front Garden will be bundled and dried. I mix it with other herbs such as, peppermint blossoms, elderflowers, Brigham tea (ephedra), garden sage, and echinacea to make a soothing tea to treat a cold or flu. If a nasty cough is an issue I'll add horehound to the mix just before I brew it up. A medicinal tea should steep for about 20 minutes to extract the most benefits.
Wild, white yarrow, although a native plant that grows in the mountains here, can also be found at most plant nurseries. Look for white yarrow. It has the most medicinal effects. Fresh or dried, the flowers, upper leaves, and stems are the parts used - the aerial parts - that most herbals refer to.
I love this herb! Of course, I love them all, but lavender is a favorite. This is the only herb I dry in my bedroom...to scent my dreams with lavender bliss!
Hung from the ceiling and my headboard, the loose buds in a small, white bowl, I'll dream of strolling through lavender fields!
I arrange the lavender sprigs into bundles and tie them with heavy string. The bundles are hung from my bedroom's suspended ceiling. One day. Some day. My Cottage renovations will restore my kitchen and bedroom ceilings to their original 10-foot height. These remain the only rooms that haven't had their ceilings restored. So, for now, the suspended ceilings serve as giant drying racks.
In Winter, I'll brew lavender-bud tea for a soothing, warming, afternoon tisane (herbal tea). This is best enjoyed in a comfy chair near the fire.
On hot days lavender lemonade is a refreshing drink best enjoyed on the porch. It's wonderful served over ice when Summer-warmed friends stop by.
Lavender buds are one of the ingredients in herbes de provence seasoning mixtures.
And, what would a room-freshening potpourri be without lavender?
So many uses! A bowl of lavender buds is the simplest potpourri of all.
If you grow lavender and it happens to be blooming, a fat bundle secured with a pretty ribbon makes a charming, and much-appreciated hostess gift.
Lemon balm, lemon mint, melissa - by whatever name - this mild, lemony mint is one of my favorites for a lovely-tasting tea - hot or iced - to soothe an upset tummy, or calm hot, irritated nerves. It blends well with spearmint and lavender.
Medicinally, lemon balm enhances the activity of other herbs it's used with. It's calming to the nerves and used to treat colds when made into a tea. It may be sipped as a single remedy or mixed with other herbs, such as yarrow, etc.
I harvest lemon balm it its early flowering stage. Leaves and flower buds are stripped from the stems and dried, or used fresh.
Last year I didn't dry enough oregano! I love to use fresh oregano in recipes. In Winter, I use it dried and crumbled onto omelets, pizza, baked into bread...even added to an herbal tea blend.
Oregano is a potent antioxidant. It's an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and soothing sipped hot during bouts of colds or flu.
Most herbs require harvesting before, or at the beginning, or at peak of flowering for most potent flavor or medicinal qualities. Each herb has its own requirements as to what stage of growth is best for harvest.
Herbs are best gathered in the morning once the dew evaporates off and before the day gets too warm.
In the next post I'll have a recipe for lavender lemonade!