Angelica

June 21, 2009

I didn’t have the space to grow this herb where I used to live. I planted this angelica plant in May 2008 (see first photo) and watched in amazement as it grew and grew (mostly this spring) and turned into this huge beautiful architectural plant that is as tall as me! My favourite photo is the last one. I’ll be saving the seeds; there’s plenty of them as you can see. In theory I could have cut the flowering stem in the first few years to stop it going to seed but I was too intrigued to see what it would look like. It is a biennial so it will die off this year.

Anyone got any favourite uses for angelica root, seeds, stems?

Angelica planted out in May 2008

Angelica planted out in May 2008

Angelica in March 2009

Angelica in March 2009

Wow, something's happening here; flowering stem coming up.

Look at that lovely fresh green growth

Look at that lovely fresh green growth

Angelica in Flower - June 2009

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Chives Flower
I guess if you’re visiting this website you are thinking about or have started to grow some herbs. If you’re still not sure growing herbs is for you, here are a few good reasons that you may not have thought of yet that show how useful, fun and versatile growing herbs can be:

  • Herbs are easy to grow, suffer from few pests and diseases and are deocrative but also good to eat with many nutritional benefits!
  • Many are perennials, which come up year after year without much work from you and will supply you with many years of beauty and a variety of uses ranging from culinary to medicinal, skincare and crafts and you don’t need masses of space to grow them.
  • They create a visual and aromatic feast for your senses. Many herbs have beautiful flowers and wonderful uplifting scents.
  • You can use your garden to provide herbs which are really best fresh, e.g basil, chives, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon and thyme, borage, salad burnet, chervil, coriander, scented geraniums, lemon balm, lemon verbena, nasturtiums, savory, sorrel and violets.
  • Save money by growing your own culinary herbs and use them to create mouth-watering dishes for you and your family.
  • Free herb plants. Once your herbs are established you will be able to propagate your own herbs for your garden or to give away or sell.
  • Herbs will attract wildlife: bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. This means that they can be used for companion planting in your vegetable garden to boost yields, attract beneficial insects and deter pests.
  • You can grow your own herbal first aid kit. You could make your own tinctures, infusions, decoctions and salves. Just a few herbs will help you treat yourself for minor ailments, e.g. bites/stings – just rub plantain leaf or basil leaves onto your skin. Gargle with sage tea when you have a sore throat or rinse your mouth with sage tea when you have a mouth ulcer. Sip some fennel or peppermint tea to aid digestion. If you want to make a few remedies, I can recommend the Herbal Medicine Making Kit supplied by Learning Herbs. You can read more about it or purchase it  here or watch this 3 minute video of someone making the salve from the kit here.
  • You can make your own skincare products: you’ll be able to make your own infused oils for use in ointments, creams or make your own hair rinses.
  • A number of herbs aid digestion e.g. fennel tea, peppermint tea. Chewing on fennel seeds can help reduce appetite if you are trying to lose weight.
  • Herbs enhance your health e.g. garlic for the immune system and a heart protector. Lavender, lemon balm or chamomile can help calm or aid sleep when drunk in tea.
  • Make your own herbal teas with fresh or dried herbs that you’ve grown.
  • Use herbs for your pets to help treat minor ailments.
  • Fresh lemon balm leaves make a wonderfully calming tea.
  • If you are a cat owner, they’ll love catnip and valerian planted in your garden.
  • Make your own herb jellies, vinegars and oils.
  • Create your own potpourri.
  • Plant beautiful and useful herb containers for you and your friends and family.
  • Use cut herb plants or flowers for flower arrangements in the home.
  • Relieve stress by gardening; it is a fantastically relaxing and grounding activity.

What have I missed? What’s your favourite uses for herbs/what brings you the most joy?

This blog post is intended to inform and entertain. You should not use herbs in place of your normal medical care or take them with current prescriptions or medicines without first obtaining professional advice by consulting a trained medical practitioner or qualified herbalist. Herbs should not be taken whilst pregnant or breastfeeding without checking with your medical practitioner first.

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Contrary to popular belief, growing herbs in a shady area of the garden is possible, some of them will even thrive in it. The list below is an excerpt from my forthcoming e-book.

Here are a few herbs that will tolerate a shady position in the garden:

  • Comfrey – this is an invasive herb so choose your spot carefully, it is a very leafy dense herb so good for ground cover. It has lovely flowers too that the bees love. Comfrey is a very versatile and therefore a useful herb to have in the garden or near a vegetable patch.  The leaves can be used as a compost activator and you can also use the leaves to make a good liquid feed although the smell will not be pleasant when brewing!  Leaves left in between rows of vegetables will add nutrients to the soil and also apparently attract slugs away from your crops (haven’t tested this yet). Comfrey leaves have healing properties so are great to have around to use to make comfrey oil or ointments.
  • Lemon Balm  and Mints – these will tolerate shade and most mints are also happy in damp shade as well.
  • Coriander – The most common problem with this herb is that it goes to seed too quickly, one way of slowing this down (apart from making sure you choose the right variety in the first place) is to grow it in the garden in a shady/semi-shady position.
  • Parsley.
  • Sweet Woodruff – this one is good for ground cover and has pretty little white flowers in the spring.
  • Sweet Violet – usually found growing at the edge of woodland, under hedges or shrubs.
  • Lungwort – another pretty plant with speckled leaves and purple/pink flowers (see photo above).
  • Wild Strawberry – these will supply you with vanilla flavoured tiny strawberries and send out runners absolutely everywhere!
  • Box – a traditional hedging plant.
  • Primrose.
  • Chives – a useful herb to have.
  • Angelica.
  • Lily of the Valley – n.b poisonous.
  • Sweet Cicely – great with rhubarb to counter acidity and reduce the quantity of sugar needed in recipes.
  • Chervil.

Feel free to leave a comment below to let me know what other herbs you have successfully grown in shady conditions.

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