The fascination with herbs is a potent one and once one is charmed. It is hard to prevent them from taking over one’s life. They romp through the garden and take root in all sorts of unexpected places. They turn up in previously sedate and well-tried recipes. It provides remedies for long-standing aches and pains and has been used for the household and its pets.
The invasion is practically always beneficial and harmless even stinging nettle has its uses as the invading Roman soldiery found when they tried to find ways of keeping warm in the chilly offshore islands of Britain.
Moreover, you know, practically always because a few herbs are harmful if used indiscreetly. In medically prescribed quantities such plants do nothing but good but in an amount larger than these they can be harmful, even lethal. If an herb mentioned anywhere can be poisonous, the fact is noted under its description in the alphabetical list.
Fascination with Herbs is almost certainly more popular now than they have ever been partly because a certain air of mysticism and legend surrounds them, gathered in the course of centuries, and partly because there’s a tremendous surge towards using natural and unadulterated food and medicine and towards ornaments and clothing hand made from natural materials.
Products synthesized in the laboratory turned out on the factory bench, manufactured in a fast-food kitchen, or fabricated from the byproducts of fossilized fuels are no longer universally accepted. The herbal plant can supply substances flavors colorants and aromas naturally, often in combination with another ingredient that enhances their activity.
It must be said that the reputation which herbs have thus gathered is not unfounded. They can add a great deal to the flavor of food, and they do act effectively as anti-pest deterrents. A great deal of good for health, whether human or animal, is possible and they’re of considerable cosmetic and household use.
In fact, we’re merely at the beginning of the herbal turnaround nine-tenths of the iceberg of herbal use has yet to be discovered, and it is only, even now, a small percentage of the population for whom herbs have every day use. The time is certainly coming when herbs will automatically be part of the garden or household stores, to be used daily in one capacity or another.
The history of herbs is an intricate one, reaching back to the most ancient civilizations, and accounts show that their herbs usage still has relevance for us, even in our nuclear age. Indeed a great deal can be learned from such records, and it is well worth reading the ancient herbals which are presently in use.
The uses to which herbs can be put are described in some detail; summarize these uses for quick reference. There are designs for herb gardens, and ideas for places to use herbs in the garden. Growing one’s own plants is the most satisfactory way to obtain the leaves seeds or whatever part of the herbs is required so information on cultivation is supplied.
Several herbs are plants that are native, growing wild in fields and woods, and kept rigorously out of gardens, on the grounds that they are weeds. Others are plants introduced from overseas often from warmer climates, which have nevertheless naturalized themselves in the countryside as an escape from cultivated areas and become weeds in their own right.
So it is worth remembering before you conscientiously remove every last scrap of a weed from a flower border that it is more than likely to be of some considerable service. Horsetail may flourish like dragon’s teeth, but its silicon content ensured that it did wonders for scouring out cooking pots, and it is said to be a collector of gold as well.
Not surprisingly, in view of the above, most herbs are easily grown, though there is generally some special need peculiar to each herb that must be catered for to ensure satisfactorily healthy growth. Sometimes they need actual confinement of roots or climbing shoots. The difficulty is occasionally experienced with seed germination herbs which flowers and set seed in July or August often have short viability, and need to be sown as soon as ripe, rather than in the following spring.
Other methods of propagation such as cuttings and divisions are standard gardening practices whatever method of increase is suitable to a herb will be found in its description and specification in the alphabetical list. The right methods of harvesting and preserving are important and “smell” whether fragrance or aromas, is discussed several times as one of the main attributes of herbs for instance it can be an attractant or repellent for numerous insects beneficial or otherwise.
There is also a descriptive alphabetical list of 59 herbs, with notes on cultivation, specific to each herb, its botanical characteristics, and a recipe that may be medical, culinary or whatever aspect is particularly appropriate to that herb. There are lists of herbs for special purposes and uses in the garden, and addresses of established herb gardens to visit.