“Faerie-Folks Are in Old Oaks” ~Herbal Quotes & Images

Intermingled with the lovely, poetic quotes are the simple Old herbal sayings. I enjoy both and hope you will take pleasure in this sampling.

What can kill , can cure.

The intense perfumes of the wild herbs as we trod them underfoot made us feel almost drunk.  ~Jacqueline du Pre

More in the garden grows , than the witch knows.

Sell your coat and buy betony.

Thine eyes are springs in whose serene And silent waters heaven is seen. Their lashes are the herbs that look On their young figures in the brook. ~William C. Bryant

No ear hath heard no tongue can tell, The virtue of the pimpernel

Treoil , vervain , st. John’s wort dill
Hinder Witches of all their will .

“The air was fragrant with a thousand trodden aromatic herbs, with fields of lavender, and with the brightest roses blushing in tufts all over the meadows…” ~William Cullen Bryant

“Here’s flowers for you; Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun, And with him rises weeping…”~William Shakespeare, 1611.

Where Rosemary grows , the missus is master .

Be silent as the sacred oak !~

Sow fennel , Sow sorrow .

And because the Breath of Flowers is farre Sweeter in the Aire (where it comes and Gose, like the Warbling of Musick) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for delight, than to know what be the Flowers and the Plants that doe best perfume the Aire. ~ Francis Bacon, 1625.

Only the wicked grow parsley.

Plant your sage and rue together,
The sage will grow in any weather .

Snakes will not go  Where geraniums grow.

My gardens sweet, enclosed with walles strong, embarked with benches to sytt and take my rest. The Knotts so enknotted, it cannot be exprest. With arbours and alys so pleasant and so dulce, the pestylant ayers with flavours to repulse. ~Thomas Cavendish, 1532.

Where the yarrow grows , there is one who knows .

If ye would herbal magic make
Be sure the spell in rhyme be spake

Woe to the lad  without a rowan tree-god.

When daisies pied and violets blue, and lady-smocks all silver white. And Cuckoo-buds of yellow hue, do paint the meadows with delight. ~William Shakespeare, 1595.

Rowan tree and red-thread
Put the witches to their speed

Eat an apple going to bed , make the doctor beg his bread .

The fair maid who , the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree ,
Will ever after handsome be .

What is Paradise? But a Garden, an Orchard of Trees and Herbs, full of pleasure, and nothing there but delights. ~William Lawson, 1618.

Flowers out of season , sorrow without reason .

He would live for aye , must eat sage in May .

One to rot , one to grow
One for the pigeon and one for the crow .

Women with child that eat quinces will bear wise children. ~Dodoens, 1578.

St. John’s wort and cyclamen in your bed-chambers keep ,
From evil spells and witcheries , To guard you in your sleep .

I borage , give courage .

“Good morrow, good Yarrow, good morrow to thee. Send me this night my true love to see, The clothes that he’ll wear, the colour of his hair. And if he’ll wed me…” ~Danaher, 1756.

No mistletoe , no luck .

Faerie-Folks , Are in old oaks .

“There’s fennel for you, and columbines; there’s rue for you; and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’Sundays.”
William Shakespeare, ‘Hamlet’

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.”
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac

***Royalty free images and some of our garden

6 responses to ““Faerie-Folks Are in Old Oaks” ~Herbal Quotes & Images

  1. How interesting that Shakepeare described lavender as “hot.” He must have meant how it would be warm from a sunny, summer’s field.


  2. There was a theory that some foods, etc were hot and others cool. Lettuce and cucumbers were cool, most meats and spices were hot ( heated the blood) Vegetables were considered either hot or cool though I have not found an explanation of why.

    I read a saying that said if you have a loaf of bread, sell half and buy a hyacinth to feed the soul. Quite a few ancient philosophers thought beauty was almost as necessary to a person as food. . Once one had sufficient food to survive, one needed to feast on beauty. One can find much beauty in plants and there are several sayings about the good that flower gardens provide.


    • Yes, interesting. I remember reading about the hot and cold value attributed to various foods, but don’t think of lavender as edible. Certain kinds can be, but that’s not its primary use. At least not for me. However, if it were eaten the flavor would be intense, so maybe that accounts for ‘hot.’ I love the hyacinth quote. There is so much in herbs and flowers…in their fragrance and beauty…that feeds the soul. Come to think of it, I do like a mild addition of lavender in tea.


  3. Wonderful, there are many here I haven’t heard before. I am always fascinated by the old ways & sayings , thank you for sharing. Ruthie


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