Herb Lore and Healthy Living

Valerian at Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureThe history of herbs is thousands of years old.

There are over 100 herbs growing here at Bealtaine Cottage.

Many, like this Valerian, are grown for their beautiful, Bee attracting flowers.

Elderflower herbMany herbs, like this sweet smelling Elderflower, used to make cordial here last summer, grow on trees.

Herbs, flowers and fruit on the veranda at Bealtaine CottageThe history of herbs dates back to the ancient Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, although a seminal book on Chinese pharmacology was written during the Han dynasty, known as the Shen Nong Canon of  Herbs.

The Ebers Papyrus from Egypt was written around 1500BC.

Nettle, a permaculture herbGreek history acknowledges the importance of herbs in several important works on the subject…

Nature provides us all with everything we need to keep ourselves well and healthy.

Nettles are one of the great Spring tonics to be drunk as tea or cooked in the same way as Spinach.

valerian and Rosa Canina growing at Bealtaine CottageHerbs will grow happily alongside each other, such as the Rosa Canina and Valerian seen here on the driveway of Bealtaine Cottage.

Each year I take a stock of cuttings from the Bay tree, Laurus Nobilis.

This year I am relieved to have them growing so well as the big Bay tree in the orchard suffered badly with the frost.

Bay was revered by both the Ancient Greeks and  the Romans.

This was sacred to the sun-god Apollo.

The Bay Laurel was used to make wreaths that crowned Emperors!

It was also regarded as a highly prized protection against evil.

My favourite use for them is in hot milk before bed…delicious and nourishing.

Feverfew growing at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture smallholdingFeverfew is enough to be grown for its flowers alone!

The 17th century herbalist, Culpeper noted it as good for female conditions…whatever that may be! …and also as good for relieving headaches.

I also use it for this, macerating the foliage into a pulp and applying it to my temples before lying down and resting.

fennel in a vase at Bealtaine CottageFennel, Foeniculum Vulgare, grows in both the tunnel and outdoors, equally well.

You can see it makes a wonderful scented addition to flower arrangements here at the cottage.

Fennel tea is traditionally a remedy for baby’s colic.

I use fennel as a delicious addition to salads, both leaf and bulb.

Meadowsweet at Bealtaine CottageAll herbs are relatively easy to grow.

This Meadowsweet grows wild in the Bealtaine Bog Garden and is heavenly scented!

Rosa Rugosa at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Other herbs that grow easily here are Rosa Rugosa and

Woodbine at Bealtaine CottageHoneysuckle, or Woodbine as it’s more commonly known.

willow arch and spaghnum moss on the lawn at Bealtaine CottageHere in Ireland, Sphagnum Moss is dislodged by grass, which pushes it up from the soil, dislodging it from the earth, ready to be carried off by nesting birds in search of bedding.

Did you know that Sphagnum Moss is a natural antiseptic and blood coagulant and was used by French troops during W.W.1. as an application for wounds?…successfully!

Cows eat herbs and seek out particular ones for health benefitsHerbs are immensely important in all aspects of life, for healing, eating, flavouring, colouring etc.

Cows eat herbs and will seek out particular herbs for health.

permaculture cottage, july 2011 010The scents from a herb garden are nothing less than enchanting.

And if Pliny the Elder considered them of such importance that he wrote a book about them, then that alone should make them fascinating plants to grow in your garden…

 

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