Webinar – Herbs: The Multifunctional Workhorses of the Garden

Webinar – Herbs: The Multifunctional Workhorses of the Garden

By Jen Munson, Education Chair, The Herb Society of America

Webinar anise hyssop with bee (1)Look beyond the edible goodness that herbs provide and you’ll quickly recognize these unassuming plants are hardworking powerhouses in the garden. Herbs make great companion plants, aid in pest control, and support welcome beneficials. Plant mint near cabbage and tomatoes and you will help to deter the white cabbage moth. Anise hyssop and mountain mint will attract pollinators and other beneficials. Still further, fennel and dill provide food to the swallowtail butterfly caterpillar. Transform herbs like garlic and chili peppers into organic pesticides while the herbs in companion plantings create beautiful and structured designs.

Webinar fennel with swallotail (2)Join HSA at 1 p.m. (EST), Tuesday. August 20, 2019, for our webinar, “HERBS: The Multifunctional Workhorses of the Garden” with Rose Loveall-Sale owner of Morningsun Herb Farm. Rose will speak about the extensive, and sometimes unusuall, uses of some of the lesser known herbs that will add color, fragrance, and texture to your planting designs.

Webinars are free to members. Non-members are charged a nominal fee of $5. Join HSA on or before September 3, 2019, and your webinar registration will be applied to your new membership. Can’t make the date? Register anyway as recorded webinars are sent to all registrants.

Make your own insecticide using garlic…

Garlic Insecticide Spray

Puree 2 whole garlic bulbs (not cloves) with 1 cup of water.
In a quart jar let mixture sit for 24 hours or overnight.
Strain. Add ½ cup of vegetable oil.
Add 1 tsp of liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s is recommended)
Fill quart jar with water.

To use: combine 1 cup of mixture with 1 quart of water and spray on infested plants.

Webinar speakerAbout the Presenter: Rose Loveall-Sale, along with her husband Dan Sale, owns Morningsun Herb Farm, a specialty nursery in the countryside of Vacaville, Ca. Morningsun propagates and sells over 600 varieties of culinary, medicinal, and landscaping herbs, as well as many unusual perennials for hummingbird and butterfly gardening. They also sell scented geraniums, and heirloom vegetable starts in the spring. The nursery is located in an old walnut orchard that has been owned by her family for more than a half century. Spread throughout the property are numerous demonstration gardens, quiet sitting areas and a small gift shop. Besides the retail nursery, Morningsun also ships plants throughout the United States. Visit their website at https://www.morningsunherbfarm.com/

Sage Reflections

Sage Reflections

By Beth Schreibman-Gehring, Chairman of Education for The Western Reserve Herb Society Unit of The Herb Society of America

P, Sage, R, T“Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine. —
Scarborough Fair/CanticleSimon and Garfunkel

Immortalized in songs and sonnets, sage (Salvia officinalis) is planted in romantic cloisters and medieval knot gardens that have been hidden for centuries behind castle walls. It comes in so many different varieties and I try to plant as many as I can, adoring them for their flowers which my hummingbirds love and the velvety, scented leaves that flavor my soups and stews throughout the year.

There are sacred sages, culinary sages, and even a psychoactive sage –the gorgeous yet very dangerous Salvia divinorum. I have found sages growing wild in Colorado and Arizona and have picked big bouquets of long-stemmed, sacred white sage (Salvia apiana) in Wyoming where it grows abundantly along the Snake River.

Smudge sageIndigenous Americans have considered sage to be a most sacred herb; they burned sage-leaf smudge sticks to banish negativity or the lingering emotions from long illness or trauma. They also used the wet leaves in sweat lodges to produce smoke that would open the nasal passages and lungs.

Sage is an ancient herb, beloved for centuries in Europe and on this continent for its medicinal and antibacterial qualities and, of course, for the musky, earthy flavor that blends so beautifully with so many things. Indeed, the associations that we have in America with the aroma of sage are of hearth and home. Think roasting chicken and turkey.

Sage cheeseSage Derby, that remarkable English cheese, has its origins in the 17th century when sage leaves were added to fresh derby curds to produce a delicious cheese enjoyed at harvest and holiday feasts. These days, fresh sage is still added at the beginning of the process and chlorophyll too, so that the cheese has a beautiful marbling of green throughout.

I love to boil two cups of fresh sage, one cup of crystallized ginger, one cup of brown sugar, and three cups of water to make into a delightful syrup that makes a relaxing and restorative digestive when stirred into a glass of white wine or green tea.

If you don’t have different sage plants this year, start planning for next. Remember the beautifully fragrant clary sage (Salvia sclarea) and luscious pineapple sage (Salvia elegans).

Warningthujone, found in sage, can be dangerous to those taking medication for high blood pressure or high blood sugar.

Always talk to your Doctor or pharmacist before using sage or any other herb for wellness to make sure that it doesn’t contraindicate in any way with any medical conditions that you may have.

Herb Society of America Medical DisclaimerIt is the policy of The Herb Society of America not to advise or recommend herbs for medicinal or health use. This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any medical or health treatment

The Happy Gardener: Naturally Occurring Soil Bacterium Helps Depression

By Andrea Jackson, HSA Contributor

IMG_0140Digging in the dirt provides a different experience and reward for each gardener.
For some, it’s the creative expression involved in designing a garden. For others, it’s nurturing new plants and watching seeds grow. There is enormous satisfaction to be found in the herb garden because all our senses are aroused by the scents and tastes and textures in which we are immersed.

For me, working in the garden is meditative. Sometimes I will find something truly wonderous like butterflies mating or a baby bunny so small it will accept a tentative stroke from my fingers. I wonder why the hydrangea flowers on the side of the shrub where the deer grazed are so much smaller. I am amazed by the borage that comes up every few years in the same spot when I haven’t planted it in a decade. I puzzle over how the bloodroot moved itself from one side of the garden bed to the other. I grit my teeth and wonder why I ever planted mugwort in an already overcrowded bed. This year I will make mugwort vinegar.

I am grateful that my volunteer dill doesn’t quite take over the whole garden but provides me with enough to make an abundance of vinegars, salts, seasoning mixes, and salads. I can’t remember ever planting motherwort although I must have and yet here it is, year after year providing me with good medicine.

But more than that it is the solace. It is the smell and feel of the soil between my fingers and sometimes my toes. Do try barefoot gardening for a true connection to the earth.
I wonder if there is more than just the pleasure of herbs that explains the joy in the garden.

Well, it turns out there is a bacterium that is naturally found in soil all over the world that actually improves depression and anxiety. This wonderous “bug” is Mycobacterium vaccae and it has been shown in many studies to have numerous health benefits. It improves immunity, helps with asthma, and has even demonstrated an ability to treat tuberculosis among many other things.

You can get a dose just from holding soil in your hands and inhaling the aroma. It seems that M. vaccae acts like a mind-altering drug once it is in the body, boosting the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, chemicals responsible for mood. This is the same mechanism by which antidepressant drugs works.

Nature is not something to be appreciated from afar but rather something that is a part of who we are.

Perhaps we should get back to what we have always known playing in the dirt is good clean fun and good for our health too.

The Herb Society of America Medical Disclaimer It is the policy of The Herb Society of America not to advise or recommend herbs for medicinal or health use. This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any particular medical or health treatment.

Galangal, Herb of the Month: An interesting, but less familiar herb

Galangal, Herb of the Month: An interesting, but less familiar herb

By Maryann Readal, HSA Secretary

The pungent, aromatic rhizome of the galangals, greater galangal (Alpina galangal) and lesser galangal (Alpina officinarum) are used in southeast Asian cuisines. They are trogalangal.jpgpical herbaceous plants in the ginger family with strappy leaves and white flowers resembling orchids. The rhizomes are red/white – orange/brown and are ringed with the scars of former leaves. The greater galangal rhizome is larger than that of the lesser galangal. In tropical climates, the rhizomes are harvested after three to four months of growth. While the greater galangal is used for cooking, it is the rhizome of the lesser galangal that has been used for its medicinal properties since the Middle Ages.

It is thought that the Arabic people brought the spice to Europe in the ninth century. It is said that they used the spice to “fire up” their horses. The notable Benedictine abbess Hildegard of Bingen called galangal the “spice of life” and used it as a major healing spice in the early 12th century. In Chinese herbal medicine, galangal is used to treat abdominal pain. In India and southwestern Asia, it is also used for stomach pain and as an expectorant. In western herbalism, it has been used for indigestion, vomiting, and stomach pain and as a treatment for sea sickness.

Galangal’s spicy warm flavor is used in the Indonesian fried rice dish nasi goreng. It is sometimes used in the Chinese five-spice blend. A popular Polish vodka, Żołądkowa Gorzka Vodka, is flavored with galangal. (Translated, it means bitter vodka for the stomach.) It is often used in seafood dishes with chili, garlic, and lemon and can be sliced and used in soups and stews. The slices should be removed before serving. Fresh and dried galangal can be found in Asian or specialty grocery stores. It is also available as a powder.

For more information about the galangals and interesting recipes using it, go to The Herb Society of America’s Herb of the Month website. You will also find more than six years of Herbs of the Month on this webpage, making it an ideal place to start your herbal research.

Herb Society Medical Disclaimer … It is the policy of The Herb Society of America not to advise or recommend herbs for medicinal or health use. This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any particular medical or health treatment.

Visit the WRHS Rose Garden

Visit the WRHS Rose Garden

“Love, which, in concert with Abstinence, established Faith, and which, along with Patience, builds up Chastity, is like the columns that sustain the four corners of a house. For it was that same Love which planted a glorious garden redolent with precious herbs and noble flowers–roses and lilies–which breathed forth a wondrous fragrance, that garden on which the true Solomon was accustomed to feast his eyes.” – Hildegard of Bingen

Untitled design (94)By Beth Schreibman-Gehring, Chairman of Education for The Western Reserve Herb Society unit of The Herb Society of America

My husband says I seem to wake up craving roses and sleep dreaming of them. Maybe it’s because the scent and flavor of the beautiful historic and fragrant roses in my gardens bring back so many of my best memories. They remind me of my father and the happy times that I spent with him in his rose gardens. Or maybe it’s because the magic spell of the roses helps my skin stay happy and smooth and my heart stay open and gentle.

The entire Western Reserve Herb Society (WRHS) herb garden at the Cleveland Botanical Garden is glorious, but Historic Rose Gardens are overwhelming. When they bloom, it is feast for all the senses. I spend about two weeks harvesting and drying rose petals from them to make wonderful products for WRHS Herb Fair which will be held at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens on October 12. 2019.

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.” — Gertrude Jekyll

Judy Kutina, Gwen Zeitz, Jane CavanaughThe Historic Rose Gardens of the Western Reserve Herb Society cannot ever be celebrated without mention of the three beloved Rosarians and Master gardeners who still lovingly tend the beautiful roses as they have for so many years. Judy Kutina, Gwen Zeitz and Jane Cavanaugh can still be found in the garden every week caring for this extraordinary and historically relevant collection of roses, with the help of WRHS Unit and current Rose garden chair Kathleen Hale, and other Western Reserve Herb Society gardeners.

“In 2012, the WRHS Historic Rose Garden became the proud recipient of the Certification of the Historic Rose Collection from the Herb Society of America. This rose garden was the first rose collection in the United States to receive this recognition. Starting with Blanche Harvey, who researched and planted some of the most cherished historic roses in the collection, Judy Kutina, Section Chair along with Jean Ingalls (Past Chair) and the members of their committee, (Jane Cavanaugh, Gwen Zeitz, Toni Becker, Debra Brink and Nancy Gustafson) documented the historic authenticity of each rose. A bronze plaque was placed in the historic rose collection on June 5th, 2012, commemorating this honor, placing the Collection in the elite company of the National herb Garden in Washington DC and the Chicago Botanical Garden.” — “50 seasons of growing- The Western Reserve Herb Society Herb Garden 1969- 2019″

IMG_9590Receiving this certification was a four-year project, meaning that all of the renovating, documentation identification and research began four years before the actual certification was granted.

Judy, Gwen and Jane and late member Jean Ingalls, were the four Western Reserve Herb Society members who were instrumental in ensuring that the garden met every classification needed for this special certification.

When it comes to the roses in the WRHS garden, we all have favorites. Mine is the beautiful and ancient Rosa gallica officinalis, more commonly known as Apothecary’s Rose, also known as the Red Rose of Lancaster.

The Apothecary’s Rose is just a joy, a rose older than the Renaissance and used for medicinal purposes during Medieval times. It is extraordinarily beautiful to see and smell when blooming. Its intense, deep pink-to-light red coloring and luscious old rose fragrance make it a must in any herbalist’s garden.

I have always found it easy to grow, which may be the source of its longevity and popularity. It only blooms once in a season, but it’s a generous rose. Mine bloomed in my northeast Ohio garden for more than a month. I return to it time and again to make rosewaters, jams and jellies.

Untitled design (97)It gives me a real thrill of connection to my medieval sisters to be able to use this ancient rose to infuse into my rose honey and other rose preparations. I find rose-infused honey to be ever so helpful when I have a sore or scratchy throat and although you can buy it, it is just so easy to make. Stirred into a cup of hot water, or simply taken by the spoonful, the anti-inflammatory properties of the rose petals and the antibacterial properties of the honey seem to relieve any irritation quickly.

Rose Petal Honey
6 cups fresh rose petals (4 cups dried)
2 cups honey, room temperature
1-quart glass jar with lid

Add petals to the jar until half full and firmly packed. Pour honey over rose petals and stir to remove air pockets. Cap the jar tightly. After several hours stir petals and honey. (I use chopsticks for this.) Add more rose petals and stir. Leave the jar in a warm place for about two weeks, stirring from time to time.

After two to four weeks, warm the jar in a pot of hot water (do not boil). Strain the warmed honey through a cheesecloth into a clean jar. Press the rose petals to remove all honey. Cap the jar and enjoy on toast, over yogurt, with ice cream and in cocktails.

I use rose water in my drinks consistently because I believe that it is so helpful for hydrating the skin from the inside out.

I also spray rose hydrosol (a fancy name for rosewater) on my skin every morning after my shower to moisturize my aging skin. I spent way too much time in the sun without sunscreen as a teenager and I have noticed that this daily spritzing with rosewater seems to have softened some of my wrinkles as well as tightens my pores.

I’d love to know some of your favorite uses for your favorite roses, so please feel free to share them with me in the comments.

May everything be coming up roses for you all summer long!

HSA Webinar– Incredible Edibles: Flowers in the Kitchen

HSA Webinar– Incredible Edibles: Flowers in the Kitchen

By Jen Munson, Education Chair, The Herb Society of America

Did you know many herb flowers are also edible? Experience for yourself the dimension that flowers can add to your meals. To start with, flowers of edible herbs are consumable. They offer the same flavor as the other parts of the plant but generally are a bit milder. Learn about herb and other tasty flowers that are safe to eat by signing up for HSA’s webinar, 1 p.m. Eastern, July 25, 2019, when Honorary President Susan Belsinger will wow attendees with Incredible Edibles: Flowers in the Kitchen. To sign up for this webinar click here. It’s the perfect time to surprise family and friends by throwing some edible flowers into your next summer dish.

matricaria-discoidea-846636_1920Webinars are free to members and $5 for non-members. As an added incentive join HSA on or before August 8th and your webinar registration will be applied to your membership. Can’t make the date? Register anyway as recorded webinars are sent to all registrants once available.

One of my favorite edible flowers is pineapple weed, Matricaria discoidea. This lesser-known plant surprises folks with its mild, pineapple aroma and taste. Pineapple weed, aka wild chamomile, is a native plant that can be found in compacted poor soil. The shortness of the plant makes it easily overlooked; however, once you realize that it emits a light pineapple scent and has an equally refreshing pineapple taste you will be on the hunt for it. It’s best used fresh in teas but the following recipe makes a nice alternative use.

Pineapple Weed / Zucchini Bread

2 eggs
1 cup mild vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup grated zucchini
¾ cup fresh ground pineapple weed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease loaf pan.
2. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs until foamy.
3. Stir in oil, sugar, zucchini, pineapple weed, and vanilla.
4. In separate bowl mix dry ingredients.
5. Blend dry ingredients into pineapple weed mixture.
6. Pour into greased loaf pan, and bake 1 hour or until inserted knife is removed cleanly.

2019 HSA Research Grant Goes to Ohio Northern U

The department of Biological & Allied Health Sciences at Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio, received the 2019 HSA Research Grant for their study of Comparative Antibiotic, Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Four Monarda Species. The research leaders are Vicki Motz, Linda Young, David Kinder, Jill Bennett-Toomey, and Kelly Hall.

Monarda, also known as bee balm, has extensive ethnobotanical history for anti-microbial and analgesic properties. As the need for new anti-inflammatories and antibiotics increases their research is especially relevant.


HSA Research grant

HSA Past President 2014-2016 Susan Liechty presents the first installment of the research grant. Pictured from left to right David Kinder, Linda Young, Susan Liechty, Vicki Motz, and Jill Bennett-Toomey

“This marks the 49th year that HSA has been offering this valuable grant” says Rie Sluder, president of The Herb Society of America. “We are so pleased to be able to offer this opportunity. It’s another way we further our mission. The work we support now has the potential to benefit many individuals in the future.”

This grant has recently funded such valuable projects as examining saffron as a viable and profitable farm crop in the colder climates of New England as well as studying effective fungicides in battling the phytophthora root and crown rot (PRCR) in English lavender and hybrid lavender (L. xintermedia) which is hurting southern growers and greenhouses.

The research grant selection committee included six HSA members including Jeanne Millin, Colonial Triangle Unit; Cathy Manus-Gray, member at large ; Joy Lilljedahl, Northern Texas Unit; John Peterson, member at large ; Priscilla Jones, Western Reserve Unit; and Jen Munson, NorthEast Seacoast Unit. According to Jen Munson, co-chair of the HSA Research Grant Committee, the committee of six reviewed more than two dozen strong applications. The applications were technical and detailed and required thoughtful analysis. It took the committee nearly six weeks to arrive at their final and very deserving selection.

About the HSA Research Grant

This grant is for the research of the horticultural, scientific, and/or social use of herbs throughout history. Research must define an herb as historically useful for flavoring, medicine, ornament, economic, industrial, or cosmetic purposes. Applicants may be students, professionals, or individuals and live in the United States.

Total grant amount is $5,000

The research grant is intended to support small, self-contained research projects over a short period of time. Allowable costs include:
• compensation for investigators
• professional and technical assistance
• research supplies and materials
• costs of computer time

Learn more about the grant.