Here at the herb garden wonderful things are happening underground!
The Echinacea plants are putting down their roots, storing all the goodness from the summer growth and getting ready for the dormant period of winter. After another season of growth these plants will be able to be dug next winter. Some of the roots will be harvested, leaving a crown for replanting and further growth. Roots that are big enough for harvesting will be cleaned and then they may be dried, and used for tea, or they may be made into wonderful fresh echinacea herbal tincture. A traditional use of echinacea was to suck on the root, when illness such as sore throats, infections, wounds, etc occurred. Echinacea makes a stunning garden plant and is sometimes known as the purple coneflower.
Other herbs that are putting their roots down in the garden are: Marshmallow, valerian and yellow dock.
The marshmallow root makes wonderful syrup that can be very helpful in soothing coughs and dry irritated throats in both adults and children. I will be looking forward to making this next winter. I used to make this for my children when they were young and it always went down a treat.
(I will post the recipe at a future date for those of you who are interested.)
Many of you will know Valerian as the herb that helps with sleep. Valerian as a tincture is a very strong herbal product and is best used under the guidance of a medical herbalist. A way for you to use valerian at home is to drink it as a herbal tea. It is in many herbal tea blends, that aid with relaxation and sleep, particularly beneficial as an evening drink before bed. As with all herbs if you have a medical condition, are pregnant or breastfeeding please get the advise of your medical herbalist before using valerian.
Some interesting facts about valerian: (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian owes its name to its medicinal value: Valeriana for powerful and officinalis indicating its official value.
Valerian was supposed to inspire love, it was believed that a girl who wore valerian would never be short of lovers! This is interesting as a scent is disagreeable to most people, which explains the English country name phu. The smell has often been compared to rotten socks. However the scent was appreciated in the east where baths were scented with it. Valerian was also used as a spice in the middle ages. Valerian was already well naturalised by the 17th century in coastal areas of Europe. Valerian flourishes in chalky places such as wasteland, old church grounds and railway cuttings.
Valerian has bright pink, near-crimson and white flowers. It was a much loved flower in old gardens under the names of pretty Besty and bouncing Bess.
Ref: A country herbal