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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  1. lovely post as usual ! thanks for all the postings. do you soak the bay leaves in milk? how many fpr a mug ? I have a bay tree growing outside and i would like to use it.
    I put the Bay Leaf into the hot soya milk and infuse it whilst drinking.
    Usually just the one!

  2. Collette, Warm greetings from the other side of the globe. You inspire me. Eric in Portland, OR, USA.
    Happy New Year, Eric!
    May 2013 be blessed with peace, happiness and love for you and yours

  3. I have never tried bayleaf in milk but think I`am going to give it a try. I`ve had my tree in a pot but since I moved to a small piece of property here on Vancouver Island I now can actually plant my bay. I send wishes of peace and prosperity in 2013. May all your tomatoes ripen,may every slug get lost on the way to your garden. May the rain be gentle but not continuous and may your soil be always free draining yet moisture retentive.
    Oh, Dorothy, you made me smile!
    I love your wishes for Bealtaine Cottage.
    Bright Blessings for 2013 and may you be content in your life X

  4. Happy New Year to all of you at Bealtaine Cottage.
    Thanks for such an informative post.
    I grow a few herbs but only used them in cooking, although my Gran used to tell us about their healing properties.
    I can still hear her now telling us about lotions and recipes for sore throats, boils and headaches.
    I’m really interested in growing some of the ones you have mentioned and learning about how to use them.
    I’d like to thank you for sharing something else that has inspired me to look at how Nature can supply us with what we need to keep us healthy.
    I might start with something for my acne that I’ve had most of my adult life (I’m 54 now).
    Just thought I would let you know that whenever I look at your lovely photos, I realised how much I miss having a cat around.
    Would you believe that I’ve now adopted an 8 month old cat called Murphy.
    He’s just come to live with me and finding his way round.
    So thanks Colette, from both of us. xxx
    What a great way to start the New Year…with a lovely cat to share your home!
    Murphy sounds great!
    Acne is the result of over active sebaceous glands. I would begin by restoring the PH balance in the body.
    Look at ways of doing this in your diet and herbs are a great assistance here.
    Cider vinegar can begin the restorative process, with a spoonful each day in warm juice to make it palatable.
    Parsley and Garlic are wonderful blood cleaners, eliminating toxins and boosting the immune process.
    Happy New Year, Kayte…Bealtaine Cottage Blessings to you and yours X
    And remember that to sit next to Murphy as he purrs will lower your blood pressure and bestow calm and well-being upon you.

    • Thanks for your suggestions regarding my acne.
      I’ll certainly give the cider vinegar a go.
      I’ve planted some garlic and love adding this in my cooking.
      Murphy is off to the vets tomorrow for his vaccination so he’ll be getting lots of love and TLC.
      Best wishes
      Kayte x

  5. Interesting and useful information, accompanied as always by wonderful photography!
    Many thanks … and may the New Year bring you peace, good health, and happiness so that you may continue to be inspired by the unique beauty that is your beloved Bealtaine.
    Thank you, Christine, and may the New Year bring you health and happiness through each blessed day.
    Blessings from Bealtaine Cottage

Your comments are welcome!