An Herbal Craft – Pressed Flower and Herb Note Cards

By Dianne Duperier, HSA Membership ChairDianne finished product

These pressed flower cards are a great idea for preserving the beauty of the flowers and herbs growing in your garden before Jack Frost has a chance to get to them. There is no limit to your imagination when creating these beautiful cards. Use the cards to remember birthdays or any other special occasion. Or—to sell at your next herb event. Or—to use as gifts. Be sure to make plenty! They will be in demand.

SUPPLIES NEEDED

  • Clean, dry, and pristine herbs, leaves, or flowers (woody and succulent stems do not press well)
  • Paper towels
  • 8.5”x11” 20/50# text stock or paper (for pressing)
  • 8.5”x11” 65# cover stock (for note cards)
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Thin brush
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Fine-line ink pen
  • Herbal/garden quotes
  • Optional cut printed stock overlay (Scrapbook pages sold at Michaels or Hobby Lobby)
  • Plastic note card gift boxes or fabric bags (Available at Amazon or Uline)
  • #5.5 invitation envelopes (Available at Amazon)
  • Ribbon to trim finished product

PREPARING SPECIMEN

Dianne preparingdianne flowerpressDiane labeling

Select clean, dry, and perfect specimens of herbs, flowers, or leaves. If moist, pat specimens dry by pressing with a paper towel. A flower press can be used or you can use paper and books to press your specimens.

If using books to press your leaves and flowers, fold an 8.5”x11” sheet of text stock paper in half and lay the specimens on the paper. Try not to overlap. Put inside another folded 8.5”x11” cover stock sheet to protect the pages of the books used for pressing. Continue until all of the specimens are done. Press for several weeks or months until ready to assemble.

Unless you know the names of all your herbs, flowers, and greenery, I suggest labeling them before pressing.

PREPARING NOTE CARDS

Dianne coverstockDianne overlay

Cut an 8.5”x11” cover stock sheet into fourths.  Trim if needed. This is the best use of a sheet of 8.5”x11” cover stock. The envelopes and plastic boxes suggested in supplies are based on this size. If making a different size card you would need to order envelopes and boxes/bags to fit that size.

If using a printed overlay, cut a piece of overlay to the desired size and glue to the front of the card using a thin layer of glue. (Some people water down the glue.) Let it dry. Press if needed.

ARRANGING SPECIMENS ON CARDS AND GLUING

Dianne arranging dried productDianne herbs on card

On a large table, lay out your specimens with proper identification.  Assemble 3-5 specimens per card. With a thin brush, lightly apply glue to the back of each specimen and arrange on the card. You may need to blot to remove any excess glue. Let air dry and then weigh down and allow to dry overnight.

FINISHING NOTE CARDS

Dianne inside cardDianne Herbs-With Overlay1 (1)Dianne herbs on card 1

Using a ruler, sign your card, and add the year. Using a ruler, write a message on the top or side of the card. Insert a quote, if desired. (Herb, garden, and seasonal quotes can be found online.) Select five assorted cards and five envelopes for packaging.

PACKAGING NOTE CARDS

Dianne finishedDianne packaging

Insert in plastic note card gift boxes or recycled boxes and secure with ribbon. Another option is to package your cards in fabric drawstring bags.

Lemon Balm – A Very Lemony Herb

By William “Bill” Varney

Here are several reasons to grow lemon balm (Melissa officinalis),  the lemony herb in your garden:

  • It is an easy-to-grow, hardy perennial growing to 1 ½ – 3 feet highLemon balm flower
  • It has crafting, culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses
  • It likes full sun but will tolerate partial shade

From the earliest of times, lemon balm has been celebrated by poets and herbalists for its “uplifting” qualities. At one time, the whole dried plant – roots, leaves, and seed – was sewn into a piece of linen and worn under ladies’ dresses to promote “an agreeable disposition.”

Lemon balm is native to the Mediterranean. The genus name, Melissa, is derived from the Greek word meaning “honeybee.” This herb’s lemony fragrance attracts bees. Hives were rubbed with its leaves to bring in swarms. Housekeepers once used handfuls of fresh balm leaves to polish and scent their furniture.

Lemon balm thrives in cooler climates. It develops into a bushy plant with substantial roots and a stalk reaching 1 ½ to 3 feet high. Leaves are toothed, textured, and smell strongly of lemon. Yellow buds open into tiny white flowers by mid to end of summer.

lemon balmPlanting and Care – Easy to grow although seeds are slow to germinate. Start from cuttings, root division, or plants bought from a nursery. Plant as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. It accepts partial shade to full sun exposure and prefers moist fertile soil with good drainage.

Once established, plants endure in the garden unless a determined effort is made to eliminate them. They reseed easily and spread wide, so provide plenty of space. In small gardens, try growing in containers to control the plants. The stalks die with the first frost and can be cut down to the ground. In cold winter regions, place a thick layer of mulch over the crown to protect the plant; each spring it will regrow from its roots.

Harvesting and Use – One of the sweetest scented of all herbs, which makes it a delightful ingredient for sachets and potpourris. Fresh-cut stems retain their fragrance well and lend a casual flair to floral arrangements. In the kitchen, lemon balm adds a light lemony flavor to soups and stews, fish, lamb, and chicken. Freshly chopped, use it sparingly with fruits or salads. It’s a favorite replacement for salt and an inexpensive lemon zest substitute.

Always add near the end of cooking because its volatile oils are dissipated by heat. Its flavor keeps well in baked goods because it is captured by the surrounding medium. Use as a fresh garnish in hot tea and lemonade or brew as a tea. A leaf or two improves a glass of white wine. Along with hyssop, it is an important ingredient in the liqueur Chartreuse.

Lemon balm is recognized as an aid to digestion and circulation. It is reported to help relieve feverish colds, headaches, and tension. Its oil is believed to be beneficial in dressing wounds, especially insect bites.

One of my favorite recipes for using it is Lemon Balm Bars.

Lemon Balm Bars

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar 1 cup of flour
  • 1/3 cup blanched almonds 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons lemon balm leaves, minced Grated zest of one lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup blanched almonds

Combine butter, ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup flour, and 1/3 cup almonds in food processor. Process until mixture forms a ball. Pat into a greased and floured 9 by 9 – inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Combine sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, minced lemon balm, and lemon zest in work bowl of food processor. Process until finely blended. Add eggs and lemon juice; blend thoroughly. Pour over crust. Grind remaining 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar and 1/3 cup almonds in the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle over filling. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until set.

Yields 9 large lemon balm bars

Varney, Bill. Herbs: Growing & Using the Plants of Romance. Tucson, Arizona, Ironwood Press, 1998.


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 medical or health treatment.

Growing Herbs in Small Places (Pots and Various Containers)

By William “Bill” Varney

A great advantage of herbs is that regardless of your limited space, almost all herbs can be successfully grown in containers and small spaces. In fact, potted herbs will make a garden where nothing else will.

Virgil the Roman poet said it best: “Admire a large estate, but work a small oncontainer, herbse.”

Tips:

  •  No place is too small for a garden of potted herbs, and there is always a place in any type of garden for decorative containers of herbs.
  • Any container from one gallon to forty is usable. However, it is advisable to plant only hardy perennials in your largest containers. If five-gallon containers are used for tender perennials or annuals, keep them near your front or back door, then when a freeze is predicted, moving them indoors is easier.
  • Be creative in choosing your containers: Horse troughs, iron kettles, old watering cans, cinder blocks, pallets, unusual old tins, the list is endless. Of course, the traditional clay pots, redwood, and cedar containers are the old mainstay. Other alternatives are hanging baskets and containers.
  • Requirements for any container include good drainage and a depth of at least six inches is essential, regardless if the container is plastic, clay, or unusual material. There must be room for a root system to draw sufficient moisture and food to keep the plant growing and healthy.
  • Grow plants together in a large container. A whiskey or wine barrel, for example. Strawberry pots are perfect for many smaller growing herbs, such as thyme, parley, marjoram, and chives.
  • A slightly richer soil is suggested for potted herbs, especially mint, parsley, chives, and chervil, than those in the garden.
  • Additionally, potted herbs should have four to five hours of sun. If placed in full sun, recognize that they will dry out very quickly during the summer.

If you live in a warmer part of the country, fall is a great timcontainerse to bring your herbs a little closer to your kitchen by planting them in pots. If you live in a colder climate, start making notes about planting some of your herbs in pots next spring.

 

Chicory – Herb of the Month – More to it Than Meets the Eye

By Maryann Readal

It is truly astonishing how much is written about chicory, Cichorium intybus, a common roadsidSeptember2019 HOM Chicory (2)e herb that has naturalized to the point that we think of it as a native plant. Chicory is The Herb Society’s Herb of the Month for September. Check out the web page for additional interesting information and recipes using this roadside herbal plant.

Here are several interesting facts about chicory:

Although chicory contains no caffeine, it can be used as a coffcafe du mondeee substitute. It is also used as a flavor enhancer for coffee and is particularly popular in the coffees served in New Orleans. If you have visited New Orleans, you no doubt have had coffee and beignets at Café du Monde. Their robust coffee is flavored with ground and roasted chicory root. In the past, chicory has been used as a coffee substitute when wars have interrupted the coffee trade.

Chicory has been cultivated for thousands of years. Its name is thought to be derived from the Egyptian word “ctchorium,” where it was grown and irrigated by the flooding of the Nile. Many ancient herbalists and writers talked about chicory in their writings. In 16th and 17th century herbals, chicory was recommended for a number of ailments. Due to the sky-blue color of the flowers, Nicholas Culpepper recommended that chicory be used for “sore eyes that are inflamed.” Chicory is one of the bitter herbs of the Bible. Pliny the Elder, a Roman writer and naturalist described how Romans used the plant.

Among historical figures who have recognized the value of chicory was Charlemagne, who listed it among the 75 herbs to be grown in his garden. Thomas Jefferson planted it at Monticello in 1774 as a ground cover, fodder for his cattle, and for his dinner salad. He encouraged George Washington to grow it as well. Carl Linnaeus listed chicory in his theoretical floral clock because its blooms open reliability with the rising of the sun and close at noon.

Besides the clear blue color of chicory blooms, each petal of the flower is really its own flower, having pollen-bearing and pollen-receiving parts, making pollination very efficient and making a visit by bees especially efficient as well. Chicory seeds are a choice source of food for goldfinches.

Inulin, a low-calorie carbohydrate component of chicory, is valued as a support for a healthy digestive system. The food industry uses it as a sweetener and it adds fiber to foods. Chicory also contains a substance that is toxic to roundworms. For this reason, farmers mix it with hay for their livestock.

Chicory is a cool season plant. It prefers temperatures between 45 and 75 degrees. It is easy to grow from seed. It needs sun and the soil should be kept evenly moist. It is ready to harvest 85-100 days from planting. The young leaves are the most desirable for salads.

The next time you spot one of these clear blue chicory flowers growing along the roadside, be reminded that there is a lot more to them than meets the eye. And if you want to use some in an arrangement for your dinner table, remember that the flowers will close around noon.

For more information, visit The Herb Society’s Herb of the Month web page and read more about chicory here on this blog.


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 medical or health treatment.

Culinary Guru Shares “The Secret to Cooking with Lavender

By Jen Munson, HSA Education Chairlavender nancyLavender is as versatile in the kitchen as it is in the craft room and herbal medicine cabinet. However, use it incorrectly and you will overwhelm potential fans. To wow friends and family there are secrets you’ll want to employ before charging forward and sprinkling lavender on all your culinary creations.

On September 17th at 1pm eastern, join us in this lively, information-packed webinar. You will learn dozens of fun and creative, yet practical ways to use culinary lavender to boost flavor and fragrance while adding pizzazz to dishes. Enhanced with a wealth of eye-catching and informative images, lots of how-tos, and tips, guest speaker Nancy Baggett will cover the following:

  1. How types of lavender differ from one another, which kinds are best for culinary purposes and which should not be used in cooking
  2. Useful basic methods for taking advantage of lavender flavor and aroma
  3. A helpful discussion of “what lavender goes with”

Webinars are free to members of The Herb Society of America and non-members are charged a nominal fee of $5.00. Can’t make the date? Register anyway as recorded webinars are sent to all registrants.

Nancy Baggett is an award-winning author of nearly twenty cookbooks, most recently the The Art of Cooking with Lavender, which won a 2017 Independent Publisher “Books for Better Living” award and is sold in lavender growers’ shops all over the nation. Considered one of America’s top experts on cooking with lavender, Nancy frequently speaks and demonstrates on the topic. Her website devoted to lavender photos, recipes, and her lavender book are at: https://nancyslavenderplace.com For more biographical details and information on her other cookbooks visit: www.kitchenlane.com.

Start your lavender adventures with this recipe for Sweet Harvest Tea. Pour a cup and settle in to enjoy our September 17th webinar. Click here to register here for the webinar.

Sweet Harvest Tea

¼ cup loosely packed, fresh lemon balmlavender tea

¼ cup loosely packed, fresh peppermint leaves

1 tsp fresh or dried lavender blossoms

3” slice of orange peel (orange part only) 2 cups water

Place herbs and orange peel in a large teapot. In a small saucepan, heat water to almost boiling and pour over herbs in teapot. Cover teapot and let mixture steep for 10 minutes. Pour through a strainer to serve.

Source: Herbsociety.orglavender book

Bouncing Bet – A Soapy Herb

soapwortBy Maryann Readal

How can a gardener resist an herb with the name bouncing Bet? I could not resist this delicate pink and floppy plant after seeing it blooming in the summer heat in my friend’s garden. After hearing the name, I was curious about the story behind its title. For as you know, many herbs have interesting stories to tell.

Bouncing Bet, Saponaria officinalis, sometimes called soapwort, latherwort, and lady’s wash bowl earned some of these names because of the saponins in the roots and leaves of the plant. Since the Middle Ages, the leaves and roots have been boiled in water to make a soapy lather that is good for washing and bleaching delicate fabrics. Research studies show that soapwort was used in the making of the Shroud of Turin. It is true that museums have used the soapy solution of soapwort to clean tapestries and other artifacts. In France and England, where textile shops stood, patches of soapwort could be found because the herb was used in the textile industry for cleaning purposes. The French name for it was herbe à foulon or Fuller’s Herb, a fuller being someone who works with cloth. In the early 1900’s it was referred to as old lady’s pinks referring to its tenacity and ability to withstand harsh conditions.

Friars brought the seeds to England from Europe, where they planted them near their monasteries and used soapwort to keep themselves clean. The English colonists brought the seeds to the New World and used the lather of the plant to restore a sheen to pewter, china, glass, and old lace.

As sometimes happens, a good thing becomes too good as bouncing Bet escaped the garden and became invasive in some parts of the United States and southern Canada, spreading into fields where cattle and horses grazed. The saponin in the plant is not kind to the digestive systems of some grazing animals.  However, it does not seem to affect the deer that consistently consume it in my yard.

Because of the saponins it contains, soapwort’s roots and leaves are potentially toxic and should not be taken internally. However, beer brewers have used it to put a head on a mug of beer and it is used in the Middle Eastern tahini and the candy, halvah.  Historically, soapwort has been used to treat rheumatism, coughs, and itchy skin conditions.

Soapwort is a perennial in the carnation family that grows in zones 3-9. It likes well-drained, alkaline soil, tolerates drought conditions, and likes sun to partial shade.  It blooms in shades of white to pink single or double flower masses on a single stem. Bloom time is from spring to fall and it makes a nice ground cover. Despite the deer, I can’t resist trying to get it to spread in my more acidic soil. I love the flowers and love its rose-like smell.


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 medical or health treatment.