Tisane anyone?

Lemon balm has a delicious sweet lemon flavour.

Tisanes or herb teas have been in vogue in southern Europe since Roman times. The fictional detective Hercule Poirot often needed  a tisane after a particularly trying day. Today herb teas are increasing in popularity with the recognition of the harmful effects of too much coffee and ordinary tea. But aren’t herb teas expensive and don’t they taste awful? Not true! Especially if you grow your own, and can experiment with different combinations. Fresh or freshly dried leaves and flowers taste much better than the often musty plant material of questionable content and origin found in shops. Recent research by New York City high school students using simple DNA techniques, found that several herbal teas contain ingredients not listed on the pack. So if you grow and use your own, at least you can be certain about what you are drinking. Read more

Salad burnet

The dainty unusual flower of salad burnet

The unusual flowers of this cucumber flavoured herb.

At this time of year salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) is thriving in the garden. It is a useful small salad herb that although not well known or often used today, was highly regarded by many early herbalists and housewives. One writer suggested that “the leaves stripped into wine and droken, doth comfort and rejoice thee hart and are good against the trembling and the shaking of the same”, while another claimed that it was “a capital wound herb for all sorts of wounds both inward and outward”. King Chaba of Hungary was supposed to have cured the wounds of 15,000 of his soldiers by the application of the juice of burnet. Thought to have originated in the Mediterranean, salad burnet is now naturalised over much of southern England and in parts of the USA although it is only seen in gardens in Australia. It is a perennial that grows in an attractive fountain-shaped clump. This growth habit makes it a perfect candidate for a border to edge a flower or vegie bed, it also looks attractive when grown in groups of three of more to form a larger dense clump. Gardeners in Tudor times used it to edge knot gardens and Francis Bacon recommended that it should be grown along pathways with wild thyme and water mint “to perfume the air most delightfully, being trodden on and crushed”. Read more

  • All words and images © Copyright Penny Woodward 2017.
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