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 impacted every facet of life before modern times, (I can’t emphasize that enough) and the plants have changed little over the centuries. When I hold an aromatic sprig of rosemary in my hand, I’m touching the same herb beloved by the ancients. Some heirloom roses hail from the glory days of Rome.
(Image of medieval monastic ruins and herb garden)
To further that sense of oneness, and for their many uses, I grow a variety of herbs. I suppose they’re most well known for their flavorful addition to many foods and herbal teas…Parsley, basil, sage, chives, sweet marjoram, oregano, thyme, and dill are several in my kitchen garden. Lavender and scented geraniums, to name a few, are wonderful for their scent alone.
Ladies once wafted the delicate perfume of toilet water. Porcelain bowls filled with colorful potpourri scented musty parlors. Medicinal herbs comprised the bulk of ones health needs, and still do for some individuals. I take olive leaf and Oregamax extract in capsule form and drink freshly brewed green tea (two quarts a day) to build my immunity, and have had amazing success with these allies in battling chronic leukemia.
(Image by daughter Elise of lavender, dill, and cosmos in our garden)
Then there’s the mostly forgotten language of flowers. Herbs were tucked into nosegays not only for their beauty and fragrance but their significance…such as rosemary, the herb of remembrance. A sprig of thyme symbolized courage. Violas, also called ‘heartsease,’ were used in love potions. And so on.
Before plunging into novel writing, I had a cottage industry styled herb business. I also gave talks on herbal lore to local groups, much as Julia Maury does in my ghostly. murder mystery romance novel Somewhere My Love. Herbs play a big role in that story in other ways, too. Plus, I was active in the local garden club, but found it too much on top of all my writing groups. And I was one of the only members in that club who actually did her own landscaping, such as it is, and got down and dirty. Still do. Others hired landscape designers. Daughter is Elise is a huge help to me now and has been by my side in the garden since infancy. The grandbabies are coming along to ‘help.’
(Image of violas in our garden)
Speaking of family support, with the assistance of my long-suffering mother, I used to grow herbs and flowers for making dried wreaths and potpourri to be sold in the fall. Herbal and heirloom flower seedlings were raised in the small greenhouse my hubby built me and sold in the spring. However, 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. Seems I developed every allergy latent within me by exposure to all these pollens. (Herbal wreath very like the ones we made)
Note, If you’re allergic to ragweed, avoid an herb called Sweet Annie and the Artemisia family. But I’m considered in the top ten percent of allergy sufferers in the nation. What are the odds? After being run indoors and my gardening severely curtailed, I took up writing and have used my love of plants in my novels. I’m still an avid gardener, though with shots, meds, and limits.
I’ve also fallen into giving herbal lore workshops after an author discovered all the posts on my blog and invited me to conduct my first class for her online group. If you’re interested in learning more about herbs, their lore and historic medicinal uses, I’m giving a November workshop for From the Heart Romance Writers. Registration runs through Oct. 28th, unless they make exceptions for latecomers, and is open to the public. For info visit: http://fthrw.com/online-workshops
**For those of you who have taken my recent British herbal lore workshop, this upcoming one in November will be broader and include American herbs.
(Image of me in one of my many gardens with two furry assistants, Lance and Luca. The herbs in the foreground are rosemary and thyme. Behind them are heirloom zinnias. And yes, I live on a farm.)