When you visit your local market or garden centre, check out their herb selection. You may be surprised at the varieties of herbs that are available.
Not only do quite a few of them provide beautiful flowers, but there is an added benefit – you can use them for medicinal purposes without a worry.
So – what better way to enjoy spring than to get out and get active in your garden, clean it out, plant some pretty annuals or perennials and add herbs as well?
Growing a healing garden will be rewarding for you.
Here are a few ideas for your own herb garden – easy to grow plants with medicinal properties.
Most of these plants like full sunshine so make sure you place the taller plants to the north or east to prevent them from shading the shorter growing ones. A moderate to rich soil will be helpful for all of them.
Here are 12 the most popular herbs that are easy to grow
Peppermint tea is a traditional remedy for an upset stomach or gas because it supposedly relaxes gut muscles.
Growing tips: Peppermint is hardy but invasive, so always plant in a pot sunk into the soil to keep roots contained.
Echinacea or Coneflower
Herbalists use an extract of this common cold preventive to boost the immune system and the production of white blood cells.
For the home garden, plant them to enjoy the gorgeous flowers and the butterflies they attract. Echinacea is hardy and it is a good idea to regularly deadhead to encourage more flowers.
In medieval herbals, sage is a cure-all, supposed to heal grief, fever and the nerves. Modern herbalists agree that the plant contains antibacterial and antiseptic properties, and may even ease hot flashes.
Do not use while pregnant. Sage is hardy and will grow well in full sun and well-drained soil.
Ancient herbalists recommended rosemary for headaches and claimed that its fragrance could ward off infections. In the language of flowers, this herb symbolizes faithfulness.
Rosemary is a hardy plant but northern region gardeners can bring it indoors for the colder weather – just keep it in full sun.
In ancient times. the wild dog rose was the most popular source of rose hips – tiny fruits related to apples. Rose hips are still popular ingredients in herbal teas and are powerhouse sources of vitamin C, iron and antioxidants.
If you don’t spray your roses, you can harvest the naturally high in pectin rosehips after the frost and make jam. It is a good idea to grow Dog Rose tied to a trellis – it will make a very nice decor in your garden.
Aromatherapists use lavender to heal headaches and tension – try floating a few fragrant flowers in your bathwater. Lavender grows the best in a well-drained soil and is quite hardy.
In the language of flowers, Lemon Balm means love and its traditional herbal uses were equally dramatic to renew youth, cure scorpion stings and make bees swarm.
The fresh leaves make a relaxing tea with antiviral properties. Lemon Balm will do well in a hardy zone a needs well-drained soil.
The old name of Borage is Herb of Gladness and fresh Borage flowers and leaf tea or Borage infused with wine were traditional remedies for anxiety, stress and depression.
Borage will self-seed each year and will grow in sun or partial shade.
A lasting and sweet scent (it does attract bees) makes Sweet Woodruff a popular potpourri ingredient. Add dried springs to your stored linens as well.
This plant spreads very easily and prefers a little shade.
Thyme is a traditional disinfectant and the ancient Greeks used it the incense.
Thyme tea, made with a tablespoon of the dried leaves is supposed to relax the throat and tame coughing. Just make sure you don’t over-water these plants.
Calendula or Pot Marigold
The herb world, the Marigold is relied upon for reducing inflammation and old wives use it as an ointment for diaper rash and acne.
In the language of flowers, it stands for joy.
You can toss small amounts of the pretty edible petals into salads. It is quite hardy and grows well in either flower beds or containers in full sun or partial shade. Deadhead to keep new flowers coming.
Chemicals in this herb are supposed to reduce aggression and anxiety, which may be why chamomile tea has traditionally been used to encourage better sleep.
However, it may worsen asthma and can be an allergen. Avoid while pregnant. Chamomile will tolerate almost any soil but does need a lot of sun.
Fever few is a perennial plant that grows in North America. It can be used for preventative treatments. Most people who use feverfew treatments already have chronic migraines and have reported that lessens the occurrence of bad migraine attacks. Feverfew can be used by eating the leaves or drying them and making a tea out it.
Should be avoided while pregnant as it can cause contractions.
The seeds are very fine and grow the best in a loamy soil.
Enjoying your Herbal Harvest
Now that you have grown your herbs, you can harvest the leaves and/or flowers of those that are edible.
Use them fresh, dried or frozen to cook, or to make herbal teas or whip up tasty homemade vinegar. Others can be thrown into a fragrant pot potpourri.
Be sure that you keep a chemical-free garden if you plan to eat or brew your herbs, and always check with your medical practitioner, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before ingesting herbs of any kind.
Herbal tea can be made with fresh-picked herbs right from the garden, or dry your harvest for comforting cups of teas all year round.
You can experiment with the proportions but a good starting point is 1-2 teaspoons of fresh herbs or 1-2 teaspoons of dried herbs to 1 cup of boiling water.
Steep for a few minutes, covered, so that essential oils released by the herbs don;t evaporate.
Sip and savour!
Commercial potpourri mixes often contain artificial fragrances, which can cause allergic reactions. Stay chemical free by making your own natural aromatherapy mixture.
Here is how to remain chemical free…
- Pick both the leaves and flowers from lavender, sweet woodruff and Rosemary plants on a fine day after the dew has burned off.
- Scrub an orange and shave off the peel, cut peel into slivers.
- Dry leaves, flower buds and peel, spread out in a dark, dry,well-ventilated place for three to four days. Turn every day.
- Mix together 1 cup of each dried Lavender, Woodruff and Rosemary. Add the dried orange slivers and dozen whole cloves.
- Sew into a sachet or display in a pretty bowl.
Hope you get your Healing Herb Garden organized and send me your comments and experiences – good luck!
For more gardening tips, here I discuss how to Plan Your Garden.