Herbal Lore, History, and Allergies

Being passionate about the past, I relish a connection to those who’ve gone before us.  I’m fascinated with history and love old homes, historic sites, all that ties us to the richness of bygone ages.  Intrigued with herbal lore, I often use it in my writing.  Herbs influenced every facet of life in pre-modern times and have changed little over the centuries. When I hold an aromatic sprig of rosemary in my hand, I’m touching the same plant beloved by the ancients. Some heirloom roses hail from the glory days of Rome.

To further that sense of oneness, and for their many uses, I grow a variety of herbs.  Thyme, basil, sage, and chives are a few in my kitchen garden.  Lavender and scented geraniums are wonderful for their scent alone.  Ladies once wafted the delicate perfume of toilet water.  Porcelain bowls filled with colorful potpourri scented musty parlors.

Before taking the leap into penning historical novels, I wrote vignettes on rural life. I’ve compiled these into a memoir on gardening and country life, Shenandoah Watercolors, a 2012 EPIC eBOOK Award finalist available in kindle at Amazon.

At one time, I had a modest herb business and gave talks on herbal lore to local groups much as Julia Maury did in my light paranormal romance Somewhere My Love.

Back to my herbal enterprise, with the faithful assistance of my long-suffering mother we grew and dried herbs and flowers for wreath making and potpourri which we sold in the fall.  Herbs and heirloom flower seedlings were raised in the small greenhouse my hubby built me and sold in the spring.  Any profits were swiftly overrun by subsequent visits to the allergist,whom I’ve seen regularly for years now and still get four shots at a crack.  It seems I developed every allergy latent within me by exposure to all these pollens.  *Note, If you’re allergic to ragweed, avoid an herb called Sweet Annie and the Artemisia family.  But I’m considered to rank in the top ten percent of allergy sufferers in the nation, so what are the odds of that?

After being run indoors and my gardening curtailed, I took up writing and have used my love of plants there.  I’m still an avid gardener, though with shots, meds and limits.  Is it spring yet?  My nose says yes. 🙂

5 responses to “Herbal Lore, History, and Allergies

  1. Love this post Beth. I love herbal things too. It is so fascnating how the Natives used them

    Walk in harmony,


  2. Speaking of allergies. Several years ago I had a month off while we were in Galax, VA. We picnicked on the Blue Ridge Parkway every day of September. We would take our lunch and play croquet. We sat in some poison sumac. It didn’t affect me, but my wife Millie broke out. Later that year or the next I was digging out a stump in front of the house. She came out to watch and broke out from poison oak just from my digging.

    Your mention of toilet water potpourri reminds me of another project in pharmacy tech school. We extracted essential oils from oranges, etc. We even made rose water.

    In 2002 I was at Cape Canaveral over Christmas. I wanted something to use for a Christmas tree. I found a potted Rosemary that I decorated for my stateroom aboard ship.



  3. Your poor wife. Very interesting about your pharmacy tech school extractions. That would be fun. And I like the idea of a rosemary Christmas tree aboard ship.


  4. I have year round allergies, but they are worse in the fall than the spring. Rose-scented geraniums are a favorite of mine and I keep them indoors, where they thrive in my south window. I’ve actually been able to keep lavender in a pot in that location as well.

    Ragweed is what I’ve been tested as being the most allergic too–things like mums and daisies, which are forms of ragweed. Alyssum is another I cannot tolerate, so it’s probably in the same category. And don’t get me around ligustrum, a bush prized for its greenery and hardiness and, is, unfortunately, prevalent here in Louisiana.


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