(This post is just an excuse to put up some pictures. Click to embiggen and let yourself dream. There will be links for more info on the medicinal uses of each plant at the end of the post.)
|My St. J patch, nestled in with its friend|
the ornamental willow.
Take St John'swort, for example. Commercial 'supplements' can range from completely ineffective to downright dangerous. But if you grow your own, not only do you get a kick-ass nerve tonic, cheerer-upper and one of the world's best remedies for shingles, you get a beautiful companion that comes back in your garden year after year.
|They call it red clover, but|
it's really kind of purple.
|My little patch, happy in the semi-shade|
of our MacIntosh apple tree.
You can fit a patch of red clover into almost any garden
|Early last summer, showing the patch|
before blooming. It's the clump next to the path.
Speaking of bees and oh yeah, butterflies (anyone here not like butterflies?), yarrow is beloved by all sorts of pollinators. (Yes, including wasps. Please know that there are some very mellow and attractive wasps in the world, and even the so-called aggressive species will accept a truce if you truly let them alone. Wasps are important to a balanced eco-system and I love 'em.) But back to the subject at hand - Yarrow is tough, it survives droughts, mowing and anything you can throw at it. Yarrow rarely has to be planted, it will probably just appear on its own in any wild-ish area you may have in your yard (which you should, it's friendlier to the environment). But you can buy cultivated yarrows in shades of pink and red for more formal beds and they can be used herbally as well.
Yarrow "knows what to do with the blood" (a 'spit poultice' of the leaves will stop the
|My favourite yarrow plant, coming up between|
the stone stairs and a cement wall.
and it's a diaphoretic (a tea of the blossoms will bring the fever out and make you more comfortable when you have the flu). It's antiseptic, good in mouthwashes or on infected cuts.
Yarrow flowers dry nicely, keeping their shape for dried arrangements. There are those who say that keeping a bunch near electronics will protect you from the nnEMF's they produce. I don't know about that, but hey, I ain't saying it ain't so. Yarrow is a good compost activator too, so grow lots if you love your compost pile. Toss leaves into the mix every couple of weeks and it heats up/breaks down faster.
|Mallows have lovely leaves.|
The last couple of summers I've been renewing my passion for the mallows. Mallows and their cousins in the althea family come in all sizes and several colours, from the malva neglecta with almost invisible tiny white flowers (and huge, tough roots that are loaded with mucilage and ever so good for the
|Not sure of the name of this one.|
It's my favourite though.
|Wait, maybe this one's my favourite.|
See the seed pod, just below and to the right in this pic?
They call them 'cheeses' for the shape, and you can nibble on them, they're tasty when young and tender. This blossom is pictured nestled in with a sage plant.
Last and not least by a long shot, the good old calendula marigold. These are an annual, but they'll often self-seed, so if conditions are right you may only have to plant them once and maybe break up and scatter some seed heads in the autumn. They come in many shades of orange and yellow, and I've actually found a great variety I love at the dollar store of all places. Calendulas are a great addition to
|Great companions plants, you can|
mix them with just about anything.
And now, alas, I have given myself an acute case of cabin fever by writing this post. Although it is raining right now, we still have two or so feet of snow in the back yard and the temperature will be dropping into the minus teens by tonight. Aaaargh!
Links: (I encourage you to explore all these sites at your leisure)
My "opus" from a while back on St John'swort
A really impressively put together collection of excerpts from Susun Weed, Matthew Wood and others, on red clover
Matthew Wood's take on yarrow (advanced reading) and a more general take on yarrow from Richard Whelan.
A quickie on mallows from Kiva Rose to whet your appetite (or thirst, in this case).
A nice monograph on calendula including the Ayervedic take from a site I just found today, looks good!