The Healing Power of Flowers

As it is spring here in the southern hemisphere, I feel inspired to share with you my passion and practice of healing with flowers.

  • I share some of my photography of the beautiful flowers that grow here in the gardens of TARA as well as some simple flower arranging ideas for your home including creating an altar for a devotional yoga practice.
  • I introduce the healing wisdom of these flowers, the language of flowers and flower psychometry as a way to bring more awareness and healing power to flowers.
  • I describe how to make your own healing posy, as well as simple ritual ideas for you to cultivate your own healing relationship with flowers that you can do in your own home and garden.

First a little background as to how I came to be writing about the healing of flowers

In my transition out of the corporate world I was fortunate to receive career change coaching to assist me in the big changes. When I allowed myself to expand out into ‘blue sky’ dreaming of what I would like to be doing with my time, ‘Florist’ kept popping up, along with my already known passions of teaching, yoga and cultural and social change.

I remember being very surprised by this, as a florist had never been on my career trajectory before. My path up to that point had been a social researcher in health and education and organisational change.  However, as a little girl I remember how I loved growing flowers and herbs and making and creating endless craft items and potions with flowers and herbs.

It did not appeal to me to ‘train’ to be a florist, my desire came purely from my love of growing, picking and arranging flowers.

All my adult life I have enjoyed visiting gardens, particularly flower gardens, and having fresh flowers in the house. For my 40th birthday, just ahead of my health crisis, my husband gave me the beautiful book Fresh Cut Flowers by Gregory Milner, a book which continues to inspire me, my garden and home flower arrangements.

At my mid life crisis, it was my garden and flowers that came back as a core healing for me along with my pathway into feminine yoga. The fresh organic fruit, vegetables and herbs feed me and my family, and the flowers nourish and heal my feminine soul.

“A flower garden is a symbol of the feminine in nature, a specially devised womb for the conception and growth of living forces” McIntyre, 1996

More recently the health researcher in me has become fascinated by the history and practice of healing with flowers.

Flower Healing Modalities

Plants and flowers have long been associated with healing, not just for our physical ills, but also imbalances in the realms of the mind and the spirit that many give rise to bodily symptoms.

There are many forms of healing modalities that use flowers: Homeopathy; Aromatherapy, Flower Essences; Bach Flower and Australian Bush Flower remedies etc. I love these modalities and have drawn on them at different times in my life from wonderful therapists and teachers.

For my own self-care and healing, I enjoy the very simple and natural intuitive healing power of growing and arranging flowers which is readily available to all of us.

As I am sure you know if you are reading this blog, there is something very healing about being with flowers which explains the worldwide love of growing flowers in gardens and displaying flowers in homes, workplaces, hospitals and places of worship.

I recently discovered the term Flower Psychometry. Psychometry, as in the Oxford English Dictionary is the ‘divination of facts about events or people etc. from inanimate objects associated with them’. Making ‘Flower psychometry’ the intuitive resonance and relationship of the person’s ‘psyche’ to a flower.

As many lovers of flowers know, a flower can be a powerful expression of emotional sentiment. There are common emotions, feelings and qualities associated with different flowers which has led to a shared ‘language of flowers’.

Anne McIntyre provides an interesting overview of the history of the language of flowers and how it was a common form of communication in China, Egypt and India and further developed in Turkey and then England in the 18 Century.

Flowers have the ability to express life of the Spirit where they can express the intangible religious/spiritual concepts that are not easily expressed through verbal communication (McIntyre, 1996)

There are many Language of Flower ”catalogues’ easily available online that provide common meanings that have been passed down culturally over time.  Equally, a flower can arouse a very personal response. I enjoy looking at the shared meanings and asking the question “does that meaning resonate with me?”

Personally I have found flowers to be healing on so many levels.  Simply being in the garden and observing flowers with all my senses is a powerful grounding and uplifting practice.  Awakening the sense of smell with the alluring scents; the sense of sight with the vibrant and diverse colours. I love listening to the hum of bees pollinating a plant in flower. Some flowers are edible, so bringing them into the kitchen and our food only deepens this connection through taste and digestion. Flowers can also be a powerful way to awaken the sensual bodily self for example, flower petals floating in a bath.

Growing flowers and bringing them into the home has the important benefit of connecting me to the season. As both Ayurveda and the Five Element Theory have taught me, when we are aligned with the seasons we can more easily achieve greater health and wellbeing.

Flowers are a wonderful symbol of the cycle of life through the different stages of a flowers development: from planting the seed, to growing and developing, to blooming and then eventually withering and dying and lying dormant or seeding for the next years cycle of rebirthing into a new cycle.

My Healing Flower garden

My flower garden here at TARA could be described as wild cottage garden. It is also quickly becoming a collectors garden of healing flowers and herbs. In this blog I focus on flowers. I will be writing more blogs in future on herbs.

We have a range of perennial flowers that emerge again and again year after year, expanding and thereby offering us divisions to extend the garden beds, and to pot up for others to enjoy. Many of the annuals readily self seed offering new creative displays in the garden.

I am continually on the look out for new and interesting flowers that grow well in the extreme climate here in Central Victoria, where we can get summer temperatures as high as 47 degrees celsius, and frosty winters as low as -7 degrees. We grow according  principles of permaculture and companion planting, using the flowers and herbs to benefit all the garden, in particular our food production.

We have distinct seasons and with this a great diversity of flowers so we get to experience the wonders of beautiful floral displays throughout the year.

Below I showcase through photos some of the late winter and spring flowers that are blooming here in the gardens of TARA and I share with you some examples of the ‘Language of Flowers’ and common symbolic meanings of these flowers.  Please see the bibliography at the end of the website for the sources of these meanings.

Pink Camellias 

We have an abundance of beautiful Pink Camellias through the winter and spring.  The Camellia flower speaks to the heart.  Some of the most common meanings of Camellia are: Desire or Passion; Refinement; Perfection & Excellence; Faithfulness & Longevity.

Jonquils and Daffodils

The first sign of Spring comes with the Jonquils. The meaning of Jonquils are many, including ‘Desire for Affection Returned’. For me, the Jonquils and Early Cheer offer the their uplifting visual display and scent of Hope and Joy.

The Jonquils are soon followed (or overlapped) with many varieties of daffodils. While the Daffodil’s primary symbolism is that of new beginnings, rebirth and the coming of spring, it has many others including Creativity and Inspiration; Renewal and Vitality; Awareness and Inner Reflection; Memory; Forgiveness.

Calendula

Calendula flowers readily self sows throughout the vegetable and flower gardens through most of the year. We now have Orange and Yellow single petalled and the wonderful multi petaled orange petal. A wonderful flower in a vase! And this year I have just planted some seeds of a new variety from the Diggers Club, Pacific Apricot, which I look forward to enjoying this summer.

The healing properties of Calendula or marigold has been well known to herbalists for centuries (McIntyre, 1996). The flowers are edible and so it is a great bright colour addition to a salad. See my fresh edible ‘Pot-pourri’ salad recipe ideas.  I also use it to make our own nourishing moisturising cream.

A common flower meaning of calendula is “Despair and Grief and “Prophetic Prediction”. As the flower of the sun, it is a comforter of the heart and spirits.

Healing properties of the Calendula Flower

Orange Calendula Flowers readily self seed and flower throughout the year

The Poppy

Each year through the spring, summer and autumn, we have amazing displays of a variety of poppies, many of which pop up now from seeds from the previous year.

Diverse Poppies in the gardens of TARA 

The symbolism of the Poppy varies greatly from country to country. The opium poppy can be known as ‘the flower of the underworld’.

Some of the most common language of flower meanings include: ‘Restful sleep/Eternal Sleep’; ‘Messages delivered in dreams’; ‘Oblivion’; ‘Imagination’. The Poppy can also symbolise ‘Beauty and Success’/ ‘Extravagance and Luxury’.

The Poppy, particularly the red poppy, can symbolise ‘Consolation’ for a loss or death and is used at Remembrance day celebrations to remember the fallen of various wars and armed conflicts.  Other meanings of the Poppy can be ‘Peace in death’ and ‘Resurrection and eternal life’.

The poppy can be a symbol of the ephemeral pleasures of life… here one minute and gone the next! (McIntyre, 1996)

The Opium Poppy flower essence is used to help find a balance in daily life between activity and rest, the spiritual and the physical, evolution and being (McIntyre, 1996).

As the Opium poppy has potentially addictive qualities, the Californian Poppy offers a non addictive substitute and can be a gentle balancer to the emotions in times of stress.

Crab Apple Blossom

We have two big flowering crab apple trees which give us an incredible show of spring flowers that can be seen from our property for miles.

Whilst the crab apple is not such a good cut flower (as they tend to drop their petals quickly), they are visible through the windows from within the house.

Whilst I could not find a language flower meaning of crab apples, interestingly it is the Bach flower “remedy for cleansing” and was included in the original crisis remedy cream. (The Bach Centre)

The Flowers and the Birds and the Bees 

And finally, it is important to remember that growing flowers is not just healing for us as humans but for the garden and the ecosystem as a whole. Flowers and their seeds are an essential addition to a permaculture garden, as it brings in the birds and beneficial insects for pollination. It is healing in itself to experience the wildlife enjoying the flowers!

Bringing the healing power of flowers into the home.

Below I share with you some of the ways that I bring the flowers from the garden into the home, including the creation of devotional alters; Tussie-mussies or healing posies (including edible posies); and simple flower arranging with the fresh flowers grow in the garden.

I hope that some of these inspire you to pick some flowers and bring them into your life.

Creating a devotional altar

An ‘altar’ is a table, shelf or surface that is used as the focus for a religious or spiritual ritual, especially for making sacrifices or offerings to a deity.

I have numerous altars around the home, including my main altar where I meditate and practice yoga which and is the consistent place for me to go to for my personal devotional yoga practice.

Flowers have become a key part of my home self-care rituals more broadly, not just at the yoga mat. I always have fresh flowers displayed on various shelves and surfaces around the home and often include other symbolic icons including deity statues and or seasonal things I find in the garden. So as I move around my house these devotional altars and flowers bring me great peace, joy and connection to my feminine spirit.

As my students know, I also always bring fresh flowers to create an altar when I teach my yoga classes and workshops. Sometimes selecting a flower that represents a goddess that we are practicing with that week, for example red roses and/or red chrysanthemums for Durga. I love to share the abundance of the diverse spring flowers particularly in the Lakshmi class or in the ‘Second Spring’ self care for menopause workshop. For my Seasonal Yin Workshops I bring in anything from the seasonal garden to help connect us the the seasonal elements.

Tussie-mussie and healing posies

I love the name Tussie-mussie which is the name of a small healing posy.  Tussie-mussies were originally popular in the 16th Century as a bunch of fresh herbs and flowers that were used as a practical way to mask the stench of rubbish and chamber pots emptied on the street!  Tussie-mussies were also used as a form of disinfectant and protection from infectious disease. (Shipard, 2003)

Tussie-mussies now have more general definition and use as a small flower and herb posy that holds a healing intention. You can make a Tussie-mussies from a a specific selection of flowers and herbs to express the unique language of those flowers and herbs.

Tussie-mussie for a lapel

Lapel Tussie-Mussie: White Rose, Granny bonnet and French lavender

Tussie-mussies are a simple and wonderful way to bring healing flowers and herbs into your life and share them with others. They can be a beautiful gifts for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries as well as a get well gift. When I make a Tussie-mussie for a friend, I intuitively tune into the garden and select the flowers and herbs specifically for them.

I love making many little Tussie-mussies for small vases for those narrow shelves, corners, or the bathroom shelf.

Tussie-mussies can also be made up entirely of edible herbs that can then be used when needed in cooking or making a cup of fresh herbal tea. An edible Tussie-mussie can be a wonderful small gift to give a friend not only for the language of the posy, but for them to eat or drink.

Here are two summer Tussie-mussies made with a selection of flowers and herbs. Edible posies such as this, are wonderful placed on a kitchen shelf where you can for example use the spearmint to make cooling drinks through the summer.

Displays of flowers around the home

I love the larger displays of the fresh flowers from the garden through the year.  I find the larger flowers can be very simply displayed oftentimes just one variety to make the seasonal statement!

Camellia’s make a beautiful arrangement floating in a water bowl inside or outside in a garden bird bath.

Jonquils and Daffodils are easy to display and it is a great way to bring spring into the home. I love the large vases full of bunches of amassed Daffodils and mixing the many varieties growing here in the garden. Here are the daffodils we had at our first Spring Open Garden this year.

In the spring/early summer garden we have purple irises which on their own are beautiful.  And I love the buddleia displayed here with rough and random green foliage of scented geranium and lavender stems.

In the late summer garden we have an abundance of the vibrant golden yellow of the Jerusalem Artichokes and in the autumn around Mothers Day, the deep red chrysanthemums, which are classic flower for Mother’s day.

How to create your own Healing Posy

Flower selection and creating a posy can range from a very simple intuitive process to a deeper ritual. I share with you some ideas to get you started.

A very simple healing ritual is to set an intention when picking or selecting the flowers and when putting them together and placing them around the home. This is the main style of flower arranging I do in my home each week which fits more easily around our often busy schedules.

I do it more intentionally on special occasions, including at new and full moons, and when making a posy as a gift for a friend.

Intentional practice can include meditation or a shamanic drum journey, or any practice that essentially takes you away from the rational mind, connects you deeper into your intuitive and creative self, and grounds and connects you to the earth. A meditation that awakens the senses is also beneficial, although I find this naturally happens when connecting with the flowers.

You can simply make the posy, or if you want to deepen the process and ritual, you can them research the language of the flowers in your posy from links below.

Trust the process and Enjoy!

Putting together your posy.

You can either just randomly select flowers in an intuitive order. Or you can be more structured and systematic with the following instructions.

 

  1. Lay the flowers and herbs out by type on the table and, using scissors or your hands, strip all the leaves off the bottom two-thirds of the stem. Flowers will last longer without the leaves fouling the water.
  2. Choose a structural or large flower for the centre of the posy.
  3. Holding your central piece, choose a different and contrasting flower/herb to make the first ring around the centre. Add a piece, turn the posy slightly, add another piece and so on until you have a complete ring.
  4. Choose another flower or herb to repeat this process. Try to choose one that is a different colour, has flowers, or has different-sized leaves to provide contrast.
  5. Some herbs, like lavender, may need more than one ring added to create a bigger impact, so keep adding pieces to get the effect you like.
  6. If you are giving the posy as a gift, you will want to tie up the posy. You could use a rubber band around the top of the stems to hold in place, just where the leaves start. Use a ribbon or rustic string to make more pretty. Get creative with what you can use. You can even try grasses from the garden.
  7. Cut off the bottoms of the stems with secateurs (or scissors if stems are tender) so they have a neat finish.
  8.  You can simple enjoy the healing qualities of your beautiful posy OR
  9. Optional: if you wish to explore the meaning behind the flowers research and reflect on the meaning of the flowers. Start by looking at the ‘Language of Flower’ websites listed below, and reflecting if these meanings resonate with you. See what arises.

This is a beautiful posy my friend made with flowers from TARA last Christmas when we caught up for a drink.  It includes a large red poppy in the centre, with pyrethrum, dried poppy seed heads, lavender, cornflowers, sweet peas, queen annes lace and yarrow.

My Friends Healing Posie

My Friends Healing Posy made with flowers from my garden.

Bibliography

McIntyre, A (1996) The Complete Floral Healer. Gaia Books Limited, London.

Milner, G (2009) Fresh Cut Flowers, JoJo Publishing, Victoria.

Shipard, I (2009) How can I use Herbs in my daily life? 4th Edition. David Stewart, Nambour, Qld.

The Language of Flowers I reference in this blog, come from the following websites:

I invite you to use these to discover the meanings of the posies you make.

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. 

© 2018 Jane Mallick. All rights reserved.

 

Healing Garden Nettle Soup

Why Eat Nettles?

Nettles are such a rich source of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A and C and iron and has antihistamine, anti inflammatory, astringent and diuretic properties. (Balick 2014) and as such practitioners can use nettle to treat anaemia, poor circulation, arthritis, allergies, menstrual problems, urinary tract infection and kidney stones.

Nettle is a wonderful herb for women’s health in general at the different stages of life/menstrual cycle. High in iron, it is a good blood builder for when bleeding and it is a great herb for menopause as I discovered from Susan Weed’s Wise Woman Way:

“Stinging nettle builds energy, strengthens the adrenals, and is said to restore youthful flexibility to blood vessels. A cup of nettle infusion contains 500 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of bone-building magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, and zinc. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, D, E, and K. For flexible bones, a healthy heart, thick hair, beautiful skin, and lots of energy, make friends with sister stinging nettle. It may make you feel so good you’ll jump up and exercise” Susan Weed (2002)

Growing and Nettles

I love growing nettles! It is an easy to grow ‘weed’.

As well as having great nutritional value, Nettle is a are great addition to a permaculture garden and can be used in a range of composting methods as a soil conditioner.  I make a liquid manure/tea from nettle which is a great feed to give to plants for growth, particularly for greens.

Here on our property, I let nettle self seed, and allow it to establish in different parts of the garden for what we need. Here are two photos of some of our nettle crop this year. A big bunch growing on the edge of the broad bean bed and a patch of nettle (and random asian greens) growing in our chicken coup. Our 6 new pullets will be moving in soon and will most certainly finish off the greens!

Harvesting the nettle

I find the fresh, newer leaves are the best for this soup.  It is best to harvest just before flowering. Once the nettle starts to go to seed. I find once the leaves start to darken and toughen up they are less sweet and juicy.

Many people can be afraid of nettle because of its ‘sting’. The solution is to wear gloves when handing fresh nettles. And then the sting is lost in the process of cooking or drying. Here is a photo of me trimming the juicy green nettle leaves for this soup.

Harvesting nettle

Yummy Nettle Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 leek washed and finely sliced
  • 1 large floury potato thinly sliced
  • 1 L chicken or vegetable stock
  • 400g nettle leaves
  • 50g butter
  • 50ml double cream

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, leek and potato, and cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.

Add the stock and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the potato is soft.

Add the nettle leaves simmer for 1 minute until they wilt. Blend the soup.

Season to taste, then stir in the butter and cream.

NB I find this soup is best eaten fresh. Whilst I have frozen some, unlike soup such as Minestrone, it does not taste better with warming up.

Bibliography

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

Weed, S (2002)  http://www.menopause-metamorphosis.com/An_Article-healthy.htm

 

The health information presented on this site is provided for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be a 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. 

© 2018 Jane Mallick. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

The Early Summer Garden, broad beans and the birth of TARA

In this season’s Healing Garden blog I give an update of the early summer garden and I share our exciting plans for the creation of the TARA Healing and Education centre here in Taradale.

celtic bean medicine cardRecently in Glenn and my ‘tooing and froing’ about whether we will proceed with this significant property development I pulled this Celtic Bean oracle card, symbolising fertility, reincarnation and nourishment:  “A project that was buried may be bearing fruit in a un-expected way”.

Broad beans can be an underrated vegetable and yet they are so nutritious.  I share with you the abundant properties of the underrated broad bean, as well as some yummy recipes.

The Early Summer Mediterranean Garden

This year was again a busy time in the Spring garden that I didn’t write a spring garden blog for 2017. On our 5.5 acre property our days are filled with what feels like endless weeding and mowing, preparing the garden beds for summer, anticipating the last frost (or what we hope to be the last frost!) and the planting of the masses of summer vegetables.

Now it is December, with the summer heat upon us, the garden is planted out with our heirloom vegetables, including tomatoes, eggplants, chillis, cucumbers, melons, zucchinis, beans, lettuces and Asian greens of many varieties, and of course many culinary herbs including basil, dill, parsley, mint, marjoram, all which add that wonderful touch to all our dishes.

The berries are in full swing. We are currently eating bowls of strawberries each day, and are observing the cane berries exploding from full flower, buzzing with bees, to now forming bunches of huge berries. This year is going to be an outstanding crop, where we are sure we will have excess berries for preserving.

Our garden provides us with most of the food for our family for the year, with excess going to local food schemes, students, clients and friends. We regularly find ourselves with a ‘glut’ of different produce at different times of the year.

In late spring/early summer there we have an abundance of a fresh greens, lettuces and kale, parsley and coriander as well as purple sprouting broccoli and globe artichokes. These vegetables and herbs coincide with the wood element in TCM, and the Liver/Gallbladder meridians, where greens are a wonderful source of food for natural spring cleansing.

We have just finished our first major asparagus crop, where we enjoyed the unique diggers purple variety ‘Fat Bastard’ (a name that could only be Australian!). We are well on the way to in a few years the bed will have enough asparagus to feed the visitors that attend TARA Healing and Education centre.

The Abundant Broad Bean

We have just harvested an abundant crop of broad beans, which we are eating, preserving and freezing by the bucket load. I believe broad beans are underrated, and yet they are not only highly nutritious, they are easy to grow and provide a wonderful source of nitrogen for the garden beds through their roots – feeding the soil as well as our family!

Broad beans (also known as Fava beans) are an ancient cultivated crop originating from Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region. They are a cool season vegetable that grows well here in Central Victoria. We have been growing the Digger’s heirloom variety that has a beautiful magenta flower providing much beauty in the garden as well as producing a smaller, sweeter bean.

crimson broad beans

Reading about the health benefits of broad beans has confirmed, yet again to me, home grown food can provide can provide us with so many of the nutrients we need.  Broad beans are:

  • a great source of protein and energy and are a rich source of dietary fibre
  • rich in antioxidants, vitamins (incl. vitamin-B6,  thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin and niacin and minerals (incl. iron, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium and potassium)
  • rich in phytonutrients such as isoflavone and plant sterols and contain Levo-dopamine or L-dopa, a precursor of neuro-chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, epinephrine, and nor-epinephrine. In the brain, dopamine is associated with the smooth, coordinated functioning of body movements
  • (when fresh) an excellent source of folates.

Source: https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/broad-beans/

Here are some simple broad bean recipes that we have been making. double podded smashed broad beans, simple warm broad bean salad, and preserving freezing.

The birth of TARA Healing and Education Centre

This year has been a significant year of moving forward to transforming our small hobby farm, into the development of TARA Healing and Education Centre.

Currently both Glenn and I travel to many different places to offer our teaching and healing work. Bringing our work to Taradale will enable us to expand our yoga and shiatsu teaching work, and to also include the healing foods and garden into our offerings. The venue will also be available for hire for other like-minded teachers and healers to come and enjoy the beauty of our property and the abundant food we produce.

The vision is to include the:

  • building of a new eco, Feng Shui designed home for us to live in;
  • conversion of the existing house into a large teaching and healing studio for workshops and events; and the
  • creation of accommodation rooms for retreat and B&B and farmstays.

We have gathered around us a wonderful team of professionals. A Feng Shui consultant to ensure the harmonious design of the buildings. A Strategic Planner to help on the Planning Application for local Council. A building designer to bring our eco vision into reality.

The plan is to build the new house in 2018, to open the teaching studio in 2019, and to have accommodation open by 2020. Next year we will launch TARA website as well as a crowd funding campaign. We hope that you will get on board and share this campaign with your family, friends and community. We will be offering many super prizes including yoga and shiatsu workshops, gardening workshops, healing and coaching sessions, fruit and vegetable boxes, garden tours, composting workshops and more!

We are both excited and are enjoying creating the vision. At times huge fears come up, particularly around money, as this will be a significant investment for us. Neither of us have ever embarked on such a large business enterprise. We have received incredibly positive feedback from friends, students, colleagues and clients and we keep hearing and feeling a deep calling to create a beacon for positive change. Also what keeps us moving forward beyond these fears is our passion for the individual and the collective need for a shift in consciousness and with this a quality health and lifestyle education to facilitate change towards living sustainability and ethically.

The Winter Healing Garden

Winter is all about slowing down and going inward.  With the shorter daylight hours, the fresh frosty and misty mornings, the trees have lost their leaves and the garden is in a dormant phase of its cycle. The still, stark landscape reminds us to pause, reflect and rest.

Winter is known as the ‘hungry gap’, where the autumn harvest is finished and the garden has gone into dormancy. There is minimal growth and production, before the beginnings of spring growth where the cycle of abundance begins again.

We are now turning to the freezer and the bottled preserves from our summer and autumn harvests. Even though the winter garden has slowed down, there is still much to be eaten from our garden, including the abundance of fresh leafy greens, root vegetables and many herbs to bring variety and healing properties and balance to the cooking.

This year we have four varieties of Kales: Calvo Nero, Russian, Green Curly and Red Ruby Kale, all offering quite different tastes for different dishes. The Ruby Red Kale is super high in antioxidants; you can actually see and taste the goodness.

The root vegetables deep in the ground, protected from the frosts also continue to provide for us with carrots, parsnips, beetroots and daikon radish. This year we have an abundance of little red radishes that went to seed in the pathways, making great fresh radish pickles.

bunch of radish

There is always a fresh supply of herbs. In winter we use a lot of parsley, garlic chives, chervil, marjoram/oregano, thyme, and rosemary which is a my feature herb for this winter.

Coriander is one of our most used herbs and is a wonderful herb in Ayurvedic cooking both in its fresh leaves and dried seeds.  Coriander is now a prolific weed in our garden, welcomed by randomly letting it go to seed every season, so it continually pops up everywhere ensuring an ongoing supply of fresh coriander.

Whilst the garden is dormant, there is still a lot happening in preparation for spring.

  • garlic and onions are planted, whilst growing slowly will be ready for harvest in spring and summer.
  • peas and broad beans are growing ever so slowly through the winter and will provide an abundance of broad beans and peas in late winter and spring. These legumes also have the added benefit of feeding the soil by adding nitrogen, through the nodules in their roots.
  • green manure crops are ‘fumigating’ the soils from the Solinacea (tomato and potato family) in preparation for spring planting of these summer crops.

Free Food Foraging in and around Taradale

We have also turned to the abundance that is offered more broadly through foraging in our local region, including Wild Mushrooms and Rose hips.

Here in Central Victoria the two easiest edible mushrooms to find, identify and eat, are pine mushrooms Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus) and Slippery Jack (Boletus portentosus).

We are cooking up an abundance of mushrooms on toast, risotto and soup. In this winters Healing Recipes I share with you a Cream Wild Mushroom Soup that is a perfect recipe for the Saffron Milk Caps.

We have dried the surplus Slippery Jacks to be used in our cooking throughout the  year. Slippery Jacks are from the same family as Porcini mushrooms so make a great addition to to Italian soups, rice and pasta dishes.

This year I have harvested an abundant crop of Rosehips from a friend’s property, as well as from the roses running wild in and around Taradale. Rosehips are best harvested after the first frost, then dried, and stored. They are delicious as a refreshing tea, and are a valuable source of vitamin C. This year has been a wonderful season for these wild ‘hips with the unusually high spring, summer and autumn rains.

drying rosehips.jpg

In winter, one of our most used herbs would have to be rosemary which has many healing and magical qualities and is my feature herb for this winter.

Rosemary: the Healing Herb of Remembrance 

Rosemainus officinalis is in the Lamiaceae mint family and has long been valued in the home for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties and as a useful digestive aid. It is rich in antioxidants making it a rejuvenating brain tonic. It is probably best known as a culinary herb to complement meats and stews. It also can be a wonderful herb to use topically as an oil on the body or in the hair and as well as around the home.

Growing Rosemary

Rosemary is a bushy (1-2 metre high) evergreen semi-prostrate erect shrub with needle-shaped aromatic leaves. There are also low prostrate cultivars now available that are ideal for rockeries and walls.

Rosemary has pale blue (or less commonly pink or white) flowers in the winter through to spring. It is a valuable plant for bees at this time of year, when other nectar is scarce.

rosemary flower with bee.jpg

Native to the Mediterranean, rosemary is a hardy drought tolerant plant, that likes dry hot climates, and fairly dry, rocky to sandy soil in full sun.

Rosemary is very easy to grow and is a common plant now in gardens all over the world. It can be propagated by seed, cuttings or layering. Slow growing at first, rosemary can live to a great age, over 30 years or more.

A rosemary shrub makes a handsome and hardy landscape plants especially for the warm dry climates here in Central Victoria. Use it in rock gardens, in containers on porches and decks. Plant the trailing forms where you can cascade over the edge of a stone-wall, hanging basket, window box or pot.

Rosemary is a good companion in the garden. It attracts predatory insects and repels sap-sucking pests. It is useful for repelling carrot fly. Tall bushes can be grown around the garden and prostrate rosemary on paths and between fruit trees. Rosemary and Sage enjoy similar growing conditions and it is said that they stimulating effect upon each other. Rosemary supports carrots, cabbage, cauliflowers and beans. Potatoes do not like to be grown near rosemary.

Harvest fresh sprigs as needed throughout the growing season. To dry rosemary, hang in small bundles, upside down in a warm, dark location for 1-2 weeks. Strip the needles from the stems, then store them in an airtight container.

Myths and meaning

Rosemary is often considered a ‘head’ herb. Rosemary has long been associated with memory. Its qualities have the capacity to strengthen memory. You will often see it grown at war memorial as a symbol of remembrance.

Rosemary and Taradale memorial

Taradale War Memorial

Students in ancient Greece twinned rosemary around their heads to stimulate memory and recall. Herbalists today recommend rosemary tea to strengthen the memory. Traditionally at funerals, mourners tossed fresh sprigs of rosemary into the grave as a sign that the departed would not be forgotten.

Rosemary is a symbol of love and fidelity, so it can be worn by the bride and groom.

Folklore says that rosemary placed beneath the pillow can help drive away nightmares. Rosemary, when burned, emits powerful cleansing and purifying vibrations. It is one of the oldest incenses. If you wish to receive knowledge, or the answer to a question, burn rosemary on charcoal and smell its smoke.

Healing qualities

Rosemary leaves have antispasmodic, carminative (gas relieving) antioxidant and anti-inflamatory properties making it a valuable herb for digestive, circulatory, respiratory, immune, urinary and reproductive systems; and the mental and emotional body (McIntyre, 2010).

Digestion: The apothecaries of the 16 and 17 Centuries prescribed rosemary to treat poor digestion and appetite, for the relief of intestinal gas and as a general tonic and digestive aid.

The tannins in rosemary can protect the gut lining from irritation and inflammation, reducing diarrhoea. It can stimulate appetite, digestion and absorption, and relieve flatulence and distension. It can enhance elimination. The bitters stimulate bile flow from the liver and gall bladder, aiding digestion of fats and the clearing of toxins.

Mental and emotional body: rosemary oil contains natural camphor, which benefits the nervous system. It is an excellent brain tonic, improving concentration and memory. It can also calm anxiety, lift depression and relieve exhaustion and insomnia.

Joint, muscle and nerve pain: The oil of Rosemary can also be used externally as a topical application for muscle and nerve pain, such as sciatica.

In Ayurveda healing, Rosemary is a stimulating pungent. It promotes digestion, increases appetite, promotes circulation, acts as an expectorant (removes phlegm) and is vermicidal (kills parasites) (Frawley and Lad, 2001). It is heating and decreases kapha and vata, and increases pitta.

Uses of Rosemary

Rosemary is a wonderful culinary herb which is invaluable for flavouring food and as an aid to digestion, particularly for starchy or rich foods. Because of its strong flavour and aroma, it should be used sparingly in dishes so as not to overpower the other flavours. Cut the leaves finely, otherwise sharply pointed, woody leaves can be difficult to swallow.

Rosemary’s flavour is pungent, somewhat piney and mint-like. Cooking with Rosemary can be a wonderful way to include its healing qualities in your daily life, particularly in your digestion. There are so many creative ways to add rosemary into your cooking.

The fresh and dried leaves complement many dishes, soups, pasta and stews, breads marinades, sauces and dressings. Rosemary is a wonderful complement to meats, especially roast lamb.

Rosemary enhances eggs, cheeses and many vegetables including tomatoes, spinach, peas, mushrooms, squash and lentils. It combines well with other herbs including chives, thyme, parsley, chervil and bay.  Rosemary is a wonderful addition to the Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup made with freely foraged Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms.

Fresh sprigs of rosemary and its flowers can be steeped in vinegar, wine or olive oil to infuse a subtle flavour.

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil for cooking

Coarsely chop two handfuls of fresh or dried rosemary sprigs and leaves and soak them in 500 mls of olive oil in a well sealed jar for 1-2 weeks. Strain and store the oil in a cool dry place. Since rosemary is a natural antioxidant, it should keep the oil from turning rancid.

I have found this oil to be a multi purpose oil in the kitchen and bathroom (see below). Use it in cooking as the cooking oil for oven roasted potatoes or wild pine mushrooms on toast!

For a creative touch, you can use the woody branches of the plant as Rosemary Skewers for grilling meats and vegetable kebabs. Or make a small Brush for Basting meats out of small posies of rosemary sprigs and stems.

rosemary-posies-for-mice-e1496127027880.jpg

Multiple uses for Posies of Rosemary including basting of meats, mice deterrants and insense.

Skin and hair care

Rosemary’s pleasant fragrance and antioxidant properties make it a beneficial addition to cosmetics, skin creams, soaps and lotions. It is particularly good for the hair and the skin and it is easy to make hair and skin care products in the home.

Rosemary Infused Hair Tonic

A strong infusion of Rosemary is an excellent herbal rinse for hair. It is a wonderful conditioner rinse, that will brighten the hair, bringing a natural shine. It can help reduce dandruff and folklore says it can thicken and re-grow hair. Use the following proportions. I usually make approx. 4 cups, which gives me 2 rinses.

  • 1 handful of rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1 cup of boiling water

In a stainless steel pot bring the water to the boil. Once boiling, take off the heat, and add a large handful of rosemary leaves cut or bruised, cover with a lid and leave to cool. Once cool, decant into a container to take to your shower to use as your final rinse of your hair.

Rosemary Infused Oil for the Body

Rosemary infused oil (see Olive Oil recipe above, or use any other oil of your choice, e.g. coconut, sesame oil) makes a beautiful massage oil.  I have used this for my Abyanga self oil massage this winter, where I could certainly feel the healing and warming properties of this amazing herb.

The oil can be massaged into sore muscles to dissipate stiffness and pain.  Rosemary infused oil massaged on the stomach can help soothe stomach ache and offer pain relief from indigestion or menstrual cramp. Rosemary infused oil can also be used as an intensive treatment for bad dandruff. Massage the oil into the scalp, leave for at least an hour and wash out.

Other home recipes include:

Air freshener

Create an easy natural air-freshener by putting a small handful of rosemary leaf, 1 sliced lemon or orange, into a pot and simmer on low all day (watch the water level – you may need to add more water). It smells amazing and freshens the house for days. If you have a wood heater that is burning through the winter, place on the top to release a gentle fresh aroma to the room.

Pest deterrents

Rosemary can be an easy way to deters small pests like mice, flies and moths.

For mice, tuck small sprigs of dried Rosemary into the backs of cabinets to ward of mice during the winter. We did this, and noticed a reduction in numbers of mice coming into the house. It feels like a nicer way to keep mice at bay, encouraging them to stay outside, rather than trapping or poisoning them.

Other ways to use Rosemary for pests:

  • Hang up bunches of rosemary in areas where flies are gathering.
  • Use dried rosemary leaves in sachets in cupboards to deter moths.

Rosemary drinks and tonics

Rosemary tea can alleviate headaches and calm taut nerves and is also a lovely tea to have when studying or concentrating. Steep approx. 1 tbsp of fresh or 1 tsp of dried rosemary in a cup of hot water. Sip and enjoy!

To lift the spirits, a daily nip of Rosemary Tonic is perfect in the winter. It is very easy to make. In a bottle of jar add the following:

  • A handful of fresh rosemary, crushed
  • 1 Cinnamon Quill
  • 3 Cloves
  • 2cm fresh ginger
  • 1/2 bottle of red wine

Leave to stand in a warm place for 10 days. Straining liquid from herbs, bottle and seal.

making rosemary tonic

Rosemary’s diverse array of healing properties make it a must in any garden. It is easy to grow, easy to harvest and has so many simple uses that bring the healing qualities of this herb into your home throughout the year.

Bibliography

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

Cunningham, Scott (1997)Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Llewellyn, Minnesota.

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

Heinerman,John (1988) Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs, Parker Publishing company, New York.

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

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

Shipard, I (2009) How can I use Herbs in my daily life? 4th Edition. David Stewart, Nambour, Qld.

The health information presented on this site is provided for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be a 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.

 

 

 

 

Autumn Harvest and Lavender Love

Autumn Harvest

Autumn is the harvest season. It is the second harvest festival in the pagan calendar – Mabon, a time of gathering and preparation. It is also a time to walk among the herb garden smelling the fragrances and gathering plants and herbs to be dried for culinary, medicinal, magical and other purposes in the home.

Each autumn, there is a continual abundance of food coming from our healing garden. During this season we enjoy beautiful tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, beans, potatoes, pumpkins, watermelons and cantaloupes. There also continues to be plenty of lettuce, endive, rocket, basil, mint, parsley and coriander available. Our two established and very loyal Nashi Pear trees provide us with kilos of delicious fruit every year. During the autumn, we are very lucky to be able to sustain our family mostly on meals made solely with produce from our garden.

Autumn is also a very busy time in the kitchen as we work to preserve the ‘glut’ to be stored for use throughout the year. From our tomatoes we create sauces, we freeze and dry to make sundries tomatoes. We also bottle the Nashi Pears for the winter when fruit is hard to come by.

Autumn is also a time to harvest seeds for next year. This year we had a favorable spring, which produced an abundance of healthy plants and seeds. At our garden in Taradale we use heirloom seeds. Year after year the seeds we collect from the garden are more viable having adapted to our local climate.

autumn-seed-harvest.jpg

When collecting seeds I always select the strongest plant, let it go to seed, dry and collect for next seasons planting. I enjoy sharing seeds amongst friends and the community.

Pumpkins are very symbolic of autumn. Planted in the spring as a small seed or seedling, pumpkin plants are quick to grow over the summer months. It has been wonderful to have such a big space in our garden to let the pumpkins sprawl to their hearts’ content, putting down roots and providing us with large crops of pumpkins that last us for the whole year.

Here is a recipe for our family’s favorite Thai-Inspired Pumpkin soup.

Lavender Love

Lavender is one of the world’s most loved and used herbs. It is a highly aromatic plant, grown mostly for its fresh healing fragrance. Lavender’s amazing breadth of healing properties makes it a must have in a healing garden. There are also many therapeutic and aromatic uses in the home.

The name lavender is derived from the Latin word ‘lavare,’ meaning ‘to wash’. Living up to its name, lavender is a widespread addition to soaps and shampoos and is also used in perfumery. Lavender essential oil has become quite mainstream and is a frequent addition to a home first aid kit.

Growing lavender in your garden can be a great way to bring the healing qualities of lavender into your home. Once you realise how easy it is to make the recipes below,  it minimises the need to buy soaps, body lotions and essential oils.

Lavender in the Garden

Many of us are familiar with lavender in a range of forms. There are many cultivars in the genus Lavendula. The two most popular varieties are English (L. augustifolia) and French (L. dentata) lavender.

We grow both lavenders here on our healing garden in Taradale. We use English lavender for herbal home recipes and French lavender for its display of beautiful purple flowers.

French and English Lavender varieties in the gardens in Taradale

Lavender is a wonderful addition to a cottage garden and can be combined with other perennials and annuals. I enjoy planting this beautiful flower around the garden borders, in rock gardens or in low hedges. Lavender acts as a pest deterrent whilst also bringing in bees and butterflies for garden pollination making it a good companion plant in a vegetable garden or orchard.

One of the best things about lavender is the fragrance that permeates the garden. The herb releases its scent when touched, so it is nice to plant in entranceways, along paths, decks or any area where people will brush against it while passing by, allowing the healing aroma to fill the air with a fresh, uplifting and relaxing scent.

Growing Conditions

Lavender is native to many areas stemming from the western Mediterranean across to India. It is a popular hardy perennial cottage plant and is widely cultivated in temperate climates.

Lavender likes dry, well-drained soils and grows best in full sun. It is also a drought tolerant plant, which makes it a great addition to our hot and dry Central Victorian garden.

Lavender plants can be easily propagated from cuttings in the autumn or spring. Woody and overgrown plants should be replaced with new ones every 4-5 years. The plants benefit from regular pruning, I am in the practice of cutting off about a third. This will keep the bushes in good shape and encourage compact growth and regular blooming. Even picking the flowers will give the bush a tip prune. Usually, this will make two new shoots develop and set new flowers from the cut stem, so you’ll get two harvests a season!

History and Mythology

Lavender has enjoyed a long and well-documented place among human civilization as an antiseptic, a protective and love-inducing herb and in perfumery. Key meanings and suggested powers of lavender include: love, protection, sleep, chastity, longevity, purification, happiness and peace.

Ancient Egyptians used lavender in their funerary rites, including it in their mummifying process, as well as for perfuming their clothing and themselves. Cleopatra was reputed to have used lavender as one of her secret weapons for seduction. Lavender can be used in love spells to attract love.

Healing Properties*

Lavender is well known for its soothing effects. Lavender contains chemical compounds that have anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxing, pain relieving and sedative properties. It is also a powerful antiseptic and has antifungal and antiviral properties.

Mental and emotional. Lavender can act as a carminative, nerve tonic and/or sedative, making it excellent for use against anxiety and stress-related symptoms including headaches, palpitations and insomnia. Lavender has also been known to lift the spirits and restore energy in fatigue or exhaustion.

Digestion. Lavender benefits the digestive system by stimulating gastric juices, including bile. It can help your body release spasm and colic as well as combat wind and bowel problems related to tension and anxiety.

Respiratory. Lavender is an antimicrobial and therefore can increase resistance to colds, coughs, chest infections and the flu. Lavender is also a decongestant and expectorant, which can help your body clear phlegm or relieve asthma.

Immune system. The volatile oils in lavender are antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. Taken as a hot tea, lavender can reduce fever and increase the release of toxins through the skin and urine.

Externally. Lavender can be used as an antiseptic for inflammatory and infective skin problems, such as eczema, acne, varicose veins and nappy rash. It can stimulate tissue repair and minimise scar formation when the oil is applied to neat burns, cuts and wounds. Lavender also repels insects and relieves bites and stings. It can further help soothe pain of bruises and muscle tension.

In Chinese Medicine, lavender is recognized for its cooling effect and its affinity for helping the Shen, or mind, by cooling the Heart. It can help to find relaxation and respite from troubles that keep the mind in motion while causing tension in the body. Lavender is useful in cooling an overheated liver as is often found in women entering into menopause.

In Ayurveda, lavender is used as a pungent and cooling herb, and is a carminative, diuretic and antispasmodic. Lavender will lower Pitta and Kapha and has a mixed effect on Vata because of its ability to be calming and relaxing as well as stimulating and invigorating.

Lavender in the Home

Herbal folklore says that lavender is conducive to a long life and should be smelled as often as possible for longevity. Fresh and dried lavender can be strategically placed around the house, bringing the healing properties of this amazing herb into your home.

Posies and tussie mussies 

Lavender flowers are a wonderful addition to a bouquet of posies or tussie mussies. It is said that by combining different flowers into small posies you instill the qualities of the flowers and magic. Traditionally, tussie mussies were to be worn on a lapel. I use these bouquets as a wonderful addition to the altar of my yoga classes and workshops, and for my home yoga practice.

Sachets and sleep pillows

Small sachets of freshly dried lavender are invaluable in the home. You can tuck them amongst your clothes to keep your laundry smelling fresh. You can also use these sachets as sleep pillows, tuck one under your pillow to cultivate restful sleep.

I enjoy sewing so like to make muslin bags full of lavender and embroider them with a personalised motif. You only need to make the sachets once, then you can refresh year after year with each new harvest of lavender. These sachets also make great gifts.

lavender sachet

Potpourri

Lavender is one of the best flowers to use in homemade potpourri. Mixed with other flowers you can create your own personalized healing potpourri to strategically place around your home.

I enjoy creating potpourri out of spring rose petals, dried lavender and chamomile flowers. These can be collected from fallen vase flowers. This unique blend imbues the collective healing properties of each of these flowers. Store the potpourri in a wooden bowl and occasionally scrunch the mix to release the fragrant dried flower aroma.

Bathtime 

Mix fresh lavender with a bit of Epsom salts in your bathwater for a calming and relaxing bath that will relieve sore muscles and tension.

Lavender infused oil

Homemade lavender oil is wonderful for massaging the body. It can be used to ease period pains or for tension headaches by massaging gently into the area of pain. Lavender oil can also be used in a foot massage before bed to ground the body into a deeper sleep.

Lavender oil can also be used in your daily Abyanga. This self-massage technique is particularly beneficial for countering the stressful lifestyles of modern life. I have found Abyanga particularly beneficial to ease the symptoms associated with menopause. See my blog the Magic of Menopause and how Yoga can Support your Transition.

Caution: people with sensitive skin should test a small amount of the oil on their skin before applying it.

Lavender infused oil is so easy to make:

Fill a jar with dried lavender buds and pour in melted organic coconut oil. Allow to sit on a sunny window ledge for a minimum of 2 weeks. I find a good month of sitting in the sun is ideal for drawing out the aroma and essence of the flower.

Drain the mixture through cheesecloth, and discard the flower buds.

Lavender oil ingredientsjpg

Lavender water

Lavender water can be used in a variety of ways around the home. Use it as a misting spray to freshen and to bring a sense of calm to a room or as a soft spritz on freshly laundered linens. I also use lavender water as a skin toner – a spritz or two on the face will tone and refresh your skin.

Here is a simple recipe for lavender water from the garden:

  • All you need is a handful of fresh lavender and 100ml boiling water.
  • In a heatproof bowl or stainless steel pot place the lavender buds in the boiling hot water.
  • Cover the bowl or pot with a lid and leave the to steep for a few hours until cool, preferably overnight. The heat will draw out the oils from the flower and the water will become scented with the essential oils from the lavender.
  • Drain the mixture through fine mesh strainer or muslin/cheesecloth.
  • Discard the flower buds.
  • Pour the water into a bottle and place it into the fridge.

Use the water within 2 weeks. Lengthen the shelf life by keeping it in the refrigerator. To lengthen the shelf life of the lavender water, you can add a little alcohol (e.g. pure vodka) or witch hazel to preserve. My last batch I used Colloidal Silver as a preservative. Note: if planning to use it on the face, keep in mind that alcohol tends to dry out the skin.

If you don’t have any lavender in your garden, you can simply mix a few drops of lavender essential oil with some fresh rain or distilled water to create your own lavender water spritzer. lavender oil and water

In the kitchen

 We usually do not think of lavender as an herb for the kitchen, but it has many culinary applications.

Lavender flowers and leaves add colour and slightly pungent bitter flavours to sweet and savoury dishes. Lavender can be used to flavour oil, vinegar, cheese, jam, ice cream and other desserts. The flowers can also be candied and used to decorate cakes.

Flowers can be dried and steeped as a tea either on its own or blended with other herbs to make a delicious hot concoction. Here is the refreshing combination of lavender with lemon balm and mint.

herbs for tea (incl lavender)

Lavender’s diverse array of healing properties, make it a must in any garden. Lavender is easy to grow, easy to harvest and has so many simple and fun applications that bring the healing qualities of lavender into your home throughout the year.

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.

Shipard, I (2009) How can I use Herbs in my daily life? 4th Edition. David Stewart, Nambour, Qld.

The practical herbalist : Lavender: Love-inducing Protector (https://www.thepracticalherbalist.com/holistic-medicine-library/lavender-love-inducing-protector/)

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.

 

 

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.

DSCN0315.JPG

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.

dscn0321

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.