dreaming of an herbarium

at judith's recommendation, i've been reading ellis peters' cadfael novels. they're set in 12th century england and the main character is brother cadfael, a monk who came to the cloth late in life after having been to the crusades. he solves murders and other mysteries and is an appealing character who is a bit of a rebel but no one ever really catches him at it. but most fascinating about him is that he uses all kinds of natural herbs and plants for healing. and he has a wonderful little herbarium in the abbey gardens. he uses it as a refuge and of course, a place to keep his stores and make his tinctures and medicines. i think i read the books as much for the descriptions of this magical place as anything else.

i told husband yesterday that i want an herbarium of my own in the garden. and you know with husband, it's never that far between talk and action and his eyes lit up at the idea. he was soon mumbling to himself about roofing materials and how much ventilation the building would require to keep the herbs dry.

the steps i can take towards this magical herbarium already now are lists of herbs to plant in my expanded herb garden. i've got the usual suspects, like parsley, 3 kinds of thyme, rosemary, sage, tarragon, coriander, oregano, lavender and marjoram. there's quite a lot of wild chamomile around the garden as well.  but i want to add some flowers - like echinacea. and i have a whole lot to learn, as i figure out what else to plant - both edible and medicinal.

so with learning in mind, i went looking for herb-related resources and found henriette's herbal homepage, which seems to be an absolute wealth of information. last year, i bought the amusingly-titled grow your own drugs, but will admit that i didn't do that much with it.

i love the notion of using less medicine and more natural remedies. i love the idea that some of it could be foraged. i've also found a great foraging resource in the first ways blog, which i also follow on facebook. (i'm increasingly finding facebook useful and not only social, are you?).

i can't wait for spring to come in earnest so i can get planting!

i'd love any suggestions you may have of useful sites or suggestions for what i should plant! please share!!


Elizabeth said...

Long ago there was also a tv-series with the name Cadfael. Just checked, it is on youtube.

Good luck with the planning.

rayfamily said...

Oh! I need to read the books, I can almost picture that magical place you describe. I think a herbarium sounds fantastic!!

The Gardener In A Green Dress said...

Those books sound so intriguing! I'll have to add them to my reading list. As you plan your herbarium, consider lemon balm. It lends a summery taste to ice teas, is perfect for steeping in white vinegar to use with dusting cloths (smells like lemony furniture polish), and when used as an infusion or tincture is good for calming the nerves. In fact, my herb book recommends it for "hysteria" which I found rather amusing so I decided to give my handmade tinctures as Christmas gifts with the instructions "take 8 drops when feeling hysterical". (-Laura Doyle with a new name but no blog yet)

Lisa-Marie said...

Aloe, though I assume you could grow it inside. Mint for tea.

I can't think of anything else, but I am intrigued to watch your herbarium develop!