Summer Garden: Magical Marjoram

My Healing Garden

Our garden in Taradale is now 4 years in the making. My husband Glenn and I started from a bare paddock and it is now a thriving garden full of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as an abundance of healing herbs and flowers.

Before and After : 2012 Empty paddock  and 2016 Vegetable patch 2016 

My love for gardening developed early on. I grew up in Tasmania living off of my parent’s 6.5 acre hobby farm and used to love strolling through the wild herb gardens of my parents’ ‘hippy’ friends collecting aromatic herbs and flowers for my potpourri projects. Over the years, I have created and tended numerous gardens in Tasmania, London and Melbourne and am now blessed to be able to cultivate our healing garden here in Taradale, Central Victoria.

The current state of our world affairs is calling for our food system to become more sustainable, local and ethical. For us, this means eating off the land by growing food in the backyard. I also believe that the process of growing, tending and consuming an array of homegrown vegetables, herbs and flowers offers us great gifts of healing for ourselves, each other and the planet.

It is my hope that the tales from my healing garden inspire you to begin your own. There is nothing more magical than planting and nurturing your own garden that allows you to cook up gourmet meals with the freshest seasonal ingredients that nurture your whole being.

The Summer Vegetable Garden

Despite the summer weather extremes (most years heat, this year floods!) in our garden here in Central Victoria, it is one of the most abundant times of the year. Right now in our healing garden we have an abundance of produce including lettuce, rocket, endive, daikon radish, onions, peas and beans, beetroot and new potatoes. Zucchini and tomatoes are just coming into harvest. Get the recipe for our family’s famous Summer Zucchini Pasta.

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This year is also the first year when our bramble berry patch is in full swing, giving us kilograms of mixed berries and the supplies to make jams, cordials and summer puddings and freezing any excess to enjoy all year long.

Bramble Berries in full production 

One of my greatest passions in the garden is healing herbs and flowers. Each season, I’d like to take you on a journey through an in-depth exploration of select healing herbs and flowers.

Marjoram: Joy of the Mountain

Origanum, the genus name for both oregano and marjoram, comes from the Greek oros, which means mountains and ganos, which means joy. There are two main types of marjoram: sweet marjoram and oregano, which is a wild marjoram and is stronger and spicier. Even if you have only a small garden or courtyard with pots, marjoram is a must in any summer garden.

marjoram-in-the-garden

Growing conditions

Marjoram requires full sun and a light friable soil. Marjoram is a good companion plant and does well planted in a mixed vegetable garden as you can see in the photo along with chives, calendula, garlic and beetroot. Marjoram is frost sensitive, so it will die in the winter and will re-emerge again in the spring and summer.

History and mythology

Marjoram was a revered herb for the ancient Greeks. This herb was precious to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and young Greek couples were crowned with marjoram on their wedding day. It was also believed that marjoram grown on a tomb would make the dead person happy. In medieval times marjoram was thrown over the floors of private homes and churches (probably for use as an antiseptic).

In the Kitchen and the home

Marjoram is a central herb to the Mediterranean cuisines of France, Italy and Portugal. It has a more subtle flavor that its close relative oregano and is excellent for use in meat and seafood dishes. Marjoram also combines well with carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, potatoes and zucchini.

Marjoram can be added to stews, soups, pasta dishes, sautés, stuffings, salads, marinades, dressings, herb butters, vinegars and oils. Marjoram is one of the herbs central to a bouquet garni.

Due to its high oil content, marjoram can be dried very easily.

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Marjoram oil is used as a fragrance in many soaps, creams lotions and perfumes. The mild antiseptic qualities are thought to be beneficial for the skin. I like to use dried marjoram from my healing garden in a warm and soothing bath.

Healing Properties*

Marjoram has an incredible range of healing properties:

  • Digestive Aid. Marjoram has a very soothing effect on the digestive system. It is also considered a carminative, an agent that expels stomach and intestinal gas. It has been used to treat loss of appetite, colic, nausea, cramps, nervous upsets and vomiting.
  • Sedative. Marjoram has calming and soothing properties that are thought to aid in sleep.
  • Antiseptic. Marjoram’s antiseptic values have made it useful as a remedy for bad breath, tonsillitis, coughs, colds, toothaches and respiratory ailments.
  • Circulation. Enhances overall immunity and increases circulation. Marjoram increases the flow of bile and has a reputation for clearing the body of toxins and improving circulation.
  • Pain. The essential oil of marjoram can be externally massaged into painful joints, aching muscles sprains and strains.
  • Mental and Emotional Healing. The essential oil of marjoram is thought to ease loneliness, bereavement and heartache. It has also been used to relax physical and mental tension, relieve insomnia, restlessness, anxiety and depress and to enhance concentration.

For readers who have an understanding of Ayurveda, Frawley and Lad (2001) list marjoram as a pungent and heating, a stimulant and antispasmodic, and is thought to kindle agni. Marjoram will lower Vata, elevate Pitta and lower Kapha.

Watching herbs work their magic from seed or seedling through to harvest and from plate to healing agent can be a transformative experience. It is my hope that after reading about my journey you feel inspired to give growing and utilising plants from your own healing garden a try. You can begin with just a couple of herbs, like marjoram, receive the healing and enjoy the process as your garden and passion grows.

Bibliography

Balick, MJ (2014) 21st Century Herbal. Rodale.

Frawley, D and Lad, V (2001) (2nd edition) The Yoga of Herbs: an ayurvedic guide to herbal medicine. Lotus Press.

McIntyre, A (2010) The Complete Herbal Tutor. Gaia.

Readers Digest (1994) Magic and Medicine of Plants. Readers Digest.

The health information presented on this site is provided for educational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your medical or other health professional. Do not use this information to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or health condition. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your physician or health care provider. 

© 2017 Jane Mallick. All rights reserved.

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