Top 20 Herbs and Their Uses

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. Using herbs in pot-pourris or in anti-moth sachets is very popular. The leaves, when dried, can be used for this purpose.

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 an herbal 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. Lavender is a very popular aromatic herb. 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. Herbs in cooking are 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.

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