The scent of lemon balm is warm, citrusy and soothing, a fistful of good cheer on a cloudy day. This resilient herb will thrive in any garden and it is not fussy about the soil, sunlight or water, which is why some came to see it as a symbol for overcoming difficulty. Read more…
Did you know that betony was thought to chase away vengeful ghosts, evil enchantments and bad dreams? I’m not acquainted with its alleged magical properties or even the real medicinal ones (apparently it was a prized healing herb in the ancient herbal medicine collection, supposed to provide relief for headaches and gastrointestinal upset), I just love its graceful purple flowers that float above a thick rosette of oblong leaves whose edges look like they have been decorated with a paper crafts crimper. Read more…
There are two strong antiseptics directly extracted from plants: one is tea tree oil, only found in the leaves of the Australian plant, and the other one is thymol, a potent antimicrobial found in thyme and oregano, a substance bee balms also have in abundance. Read more…
Punxsutawney Phil and Buckeye Chuck didn’t seem to agree this year. I’m not mad at Phil, I’m sure he is a wonderful groundhog, but six more weeks of winter? Doesn’t he remember we had snow in November? Read more…
The purple cone flower (echinacea) is largely known to boost immunity. All parts of the plant can be dried and used medicinally. The tea brewed from purple cone flowers will relieve colds, mumps and arthritis, or any afflictions of the respiratory system (the plant is good for easing congestion). Echinacea will provide light pain relief for stings, cuts or burns, eczema, toothaches and minor skin irritations.
In order to obtain the best immunity booster effects, use echinacea tea for two weeks at most. Continuous use will significantly diminish the medicinal properties.
Purple cone flowers are one of the few cone flower varieties that will come true from seed. When you harvest seed for next year, don’t forget to leave some seed heads for the finches and the cardinals, they absolutely love them.The seed heads won’t look very pretty in winter, but the birds will.
Purple cone flowers are generally considered sun loving plants; mine receive part sun under a pine tree and are thriving. The partly shaded spots keeps the leaves green and healthy and discourages Japanese beetles from attacking the flowers.
Echinacea is native to the eastern part of the United States and will thrive without any help if it finds a good spot. It tends to spread, so be sure to either provide enough space or control the spread.
If you are looking for a good carrier oil for massage or a way to care for sensitive, irritated skin, calendula oil is a perfect choice. It doesn’t have much aroma in itself, so it can be mixed with other infused or essential oil for fragrance.
Due to its high carotenoid and flavonoid content calendula is highly effective for cellular repair; the oil seals and hydrates sores and hard to heal woulds, and its regenerative properties have been documented in multiple studies.
It soothes cracked, dry, irritated and oversensitive skin, and helps with skin ulcers or spider veins; it doesn’t sting and will help heal burns and eczema. It is gentle enough for babies’ delicate skin and can be used to prevent and eliminate diaper rash; will soothe cracked nipples for breastfeeding mothers. (please make sure to ask the doctor’s advice before using for this purpose).
To make infused calendula oil, fill a glass jar with dried flower petals and add enough good quality oil such as grape seed or sweet almond to cover it. Cover the jar with a clean cheesecloth or coffee filter and leave in a sunny window for at least 10 days.
This is a simple way to make infused oils. As a variation on this process, you can add a whole dried stem of basil or thyme, together with other seasonings, like sea salt and crushed pepper flakes, to a bottle of olive oil to get an aromatic mix that will look great on an open shelf and taste even better on your salad. You can even take this a step further and seal the bottle with colorful wax for a fancier look.
Infused oils can be used in salves, creams, and other topical products. In this case I used mint, but other medicinal dried herbs can be used ( a few examples – calendula, saint john’s wort, basil, thyme, etc.). Make sure that all containers you use are clean and completely dry.
|Pick off only the leaves from the dried up mint stems.||Crush them into a powder.||Pour the content into a clean, dry jar.||Add a good quality oil (I prefer the ones without a strong flavor).|
|After 10 minutes check the jar and add more oil if needed to cover the plant material.||Cover with a coffee filter or clean cheese cloth and leave in a sunny window for at least 10 days.||Strain through a filter or cheesecloth.||Enjoy! Use in home made remedies.|
Calendula, or Pot Marigold, is a herbaceous annual famous for its skin soothing properties. It is used in salves, lotions, tinctures and compresses for minor cuts, scrapes, and skin irritations.
Plant outside from seed; germination is very reliable. Harvest only the flowers immediately after they open for best medicinal properties. Make sure to pick the flowers before they ripen. When all flowers have gone to seed, calendula will die. Allow the crop of flowers before the frost to produce seeds for the following year. More on seed harvesting and storing in the “Seeds, Roots and other Cuttings” section.