Following is a selection of herbs that can be used for making teas, culinary purposes, pot-pourris or for decorative drying purposes.
LADY'S MANTLE (Alchemilla mollis) -- This beautiful plant looks absolutely lovely growing in the garden and is a hardy perennial that can be propagated by division in the spring or autumn. The flowers can be preserved with the air-drying method or the glycerine method. They are very popular in fresh or dried flower bouquets or posies. Small sprays of the flowers can be pressed for flower work. The leaves, when applied to the skin, make a great skin tonic after they have been infused and chilled in the refrigerator. Or, infuse the whole plant and drink as a medicinal tea to help relieve symptons of diarrhoea or menopausal discomforts.
WORMWOOD (Artemisia absinthium) or SOUTHERNWOOD (Artemisia abrotanum) -- Both these hardy plants are easy to grow and can be propagated from cuttings in early autumn. The silvery foliage is very attractive in the garden and can also be used in fresh flower posies or pressed or dried flower arrangements. The leaves, when dried, can be used in pot-pourris or in anti-moth sachets.
RUE (Ruta graveolens) -- A hardy evergreen shrub; propagate by division in spring or from cuttings in early autumn. For decorative purposes, dry the seed heads. The leaves can be either pressed or glycerined. Rue looks very attractive in the garden and is used for fresh tussie-mussies. It can also be used in small amounts for cooking and works very well in anti-moth sachets.
COTTON LAVENDER (Santolina chamaecyparissus) -- Another hardy evergreen shrub that will give some silver color to the borders of a garden. Propagate from cuttings through the summer and early autumn. One shrub that is particularly pretty is "Lemon Queen". Rather than the normal bright yellow color of most other varieties, it has a cream-colored flower. Another variety worth mentioning is Santolina neapolitana, because of the very attractive foliage. This herb can be used fresh, dried or pressed for decorative purposes and is also used in pot-pourris and anti-moth sachets.
FEVERFEW (Chrysanthemum parthenium) -- A hardy perennial that will seed itself profusely or cuttings and division can be done also. One variety in particular that will give a bright color to any garden is "Aureum". This plant has bright lime-green leaves and when the flowers are dried, they can be used in pot-pourris. The leaves may be infused for tea and may help migraine sufferers.
HOP (Humulus lupulus) -- This is a hardy and beautiful climbing plant when trailing up a fence, garden arbor or any other form. The flowers and leaves are used in arrangements, garlands or swags and the female flowers for making beer. Pillows made of Hop are also considered to aid in sleeping. It is also said that tea made from the infusion of the flowers and a little honey has a calming effect and helps with hangovers.
HEATHER (Calluna vulgaris) -- A hardy shrub requiring very little maintenance and is especially pretty in the garden when they flower. Heather can be dried but is much better when preserved in glycerine. Useful in dried decorative arrangements or pot-pourris. The young heather tips can be infused for a tea and may be helpful for skin or complexion problems.
CLOVE PINK (Dianthus caryophyllus) -- A perennial but will be short-lived where there are fierce frosts. Propagate from stem cuttings taken in the spring. Although there are many other varieties, "Doris" has a lovely perfume. Preserve flowers in silica gel for decorations or pot-pourris or air dry for arrangements. The flowers are great for making floral vinegars, jams or wines and can be infused in wine as a nerve tonic.
LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia) -- A hardy evergreen shrub that is a must for every garden and is at its best when flowering. Easily propagated from stem cuttings in spring or autumn. There are many types to choose from. "Hidcote" is a dark purple variety with "Alba" being white in contrast. Another variety, having interesting shapes, is French lavender (Lavandula stoecbas). Lavender has a great many uses. For instance, in the kitchen for lavender vinegars, oils and mustards, in pot-pourris and sachets. The oil is a very good antidote for insect bites, stings and burns. Add a few drops to your bathwater and have a relaxing experience.
BORAGE (Borago officinalis) -- A hardy annual that self-seeds but may have to grow new plants each year. You may press the flowers but the leaves do not dry very well. Crystallize the flowers for cake decorating and try mixing the leaves in soft cheeses or for decoration of food dishes.
MINT (Mentha) -- There are a large variety of mints, all of which are hardy perennials. They are propagated from root division or cuttings and will take over your garden. It is suggested that they be planted in pots or bags that have been sunken into the earth in order to contain their roots. Mint is most popular in the kitchen for jams and sauces as an accompaniment for roast lamb. Also used to flavor potatoes, carrots and peas. Teas made from mint have a very relaxing effect and can be used to help relieve colds. Use as a hair rinse to relax the scalp or in pilliows. Some of the more common mints are peppermint, spearmint, applemint, pennyroyal and lemon balm. All can be used in herbal posies.
ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis) -- A hardy evergreen perennial that likes a sunny spot and can be propagated from cuttings. Also best for culinary uses especially with lamb, pork or vegetables. Use in pot-pourris or infused in tea to help digestion or use in the bathwater for an invigorating effect. Oil of rosemary, when diluted, can be used as a final hair rinse. Rosemary turns a greyish color when glycerined.
COSTMARY or ALECOST (Chrysanthemum balsamita) -- A hardy perennial that likes full sun. Divide in spring or autumn. This was once used in beer but now it has become more popular for use in flavoring vegetables, poultry or wild game. Used in pot-pourris, is an insect repellent and will add fragrance to your wash water or linens.
THYME (Thymus) -- An evergreen shrub poropagated from cuttings or seed. Use in fresh posies for their aroma or for culinary purposes. Also used as a soothing tea for chest pains or as an aid for sleeping. When dried, can be used in pot-pourris, as a facial steam for clear complexions, in stocks, marinades and stuffings.
ROSE (Rosa) -- Hardy shrubs bought as plants or propagated from curttings in the autumn. There are many very beautiful colors and varieties and a must for every garden. Use in fresh or dried arrangements or pot-pourris. Petals can be used in salads or crystallized for decorations. The hips are used in teas, wines, cordials and jams or a tonic called "Rosewater" which aids dry and mature skins.
LEMON VERBENA (Aloysia triphylla) -- A half hardy shrub but frosts will kill it in winter if not protected in a greenhouse. Take dry cuttings in spring. Add dried leaves to pot-pourris or for adding fragrance to clothing drawers. Great in teas, hot or iced, and finger bowls. Soak pads in the teas and place on eyes to help reduce puffiness. Also helps in bronchial and nasal congestion. Mix it in your favorite apple jelly recipe for a unique flavor.
FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgaree) -- A hardy perennial divided in the autumn and seeds itself. Weed out plants when necessary to prevent it from invading your garden. Do not plant near "dill" as it could cross-pollinate and ruin the flavor. Air dry flowers or preserve in glycerine. The flower of the bronze type can be chewed for a breath sweetener and the seeds and leaves can be used as a facial steam to deep clean the skin. The teas help digestion and the leaves may be chopped and sprinkled over vegetables and fish.
BASIL (Ocimum basilicum) -- An annual and is not the easiest herb to grow and does not respond to overwatering. Best grown in a pot indoors or a greenhouse, although, I personally have had some good luck growing it in my herb garden on the south and sunny side of my house. The purple variety is very pretty in the garden and can be used as part of a dried herbal wreath or decoration. When made into a tea, it has antiseptic qualities for aid in relieving nausea and is very well known for its culinary uses in tomato and garlic dishes. It also makes for a very refreshing bath.
CHAMOMILE (Chamaemelum nobile) -- A hardy evergreen perennial propagated from cuttings or by division. The double-flowered variety "Flore-pleno", when dried, is used in decorations. The flowers and leaves are used for pot-pourris and when infused can be used as a hair lightener. Chamomile tea is a very good tonic and is said to prevent restlessness and nightmares. Place tea bags on the eyes to reduce puffiness and lighten the shadows.
SCENTED GERANIUMS (Pelargonium) -- Evergreen perennials that must be moved indoors or into a greenhouse during the winter. Take cuttings and root them in sand. The different varieties and scents include lemon, orange, rose and peppermint and are all very well used in pot-pourris. They can also be used for culinary purposes such as in jellies, sorbets and syrups. Infuse the leaves and put into bath bags for an aromatic bath.
Reprinted with permission.