Tag Archives: Plants

Interested in Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs?–Beth Trissel


Faerie-Folks , Are in old oaks .”

I am teaching an Herbal Lore Workshop, actually, several this year. The first is with Savvy Authors from Mar 11, 2013 – Apr 7, 2013.

For more information and to register for the workshop with Savvy click:  Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs

banks of herbs

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.

“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.

A Fragrant Connection to The Past Through Herbs&Heirloom FlowersRowan tree and red-thread

Put the witches to their speed.”

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac

“Where the yarrow grows , there is one who knows.”

If ye would herbal magic make

Be sure the spell in rhyme be spake.”

For Lovers (or Potential Lovers) of Herbal Lore–Beth Trissel


herb garden“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.”

“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.”

English country garden flowers and herbs“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.

“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.

“Plant your sage and rue together,

The sage will grow in any weather .”

“Snakes will not go  Where geraniums grow.”

Formal Garden, Flower Bed, Old Ruin, Gothic Style, Monastery, Abbey,  Church, herbs“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.”

herb garden with chairWoe to the lad  without a rowan tree-god.”

“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.”

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.

“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.”

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac

Faerie-Folks , Are in old oaks .”

***I’m teaching an Herbal Lore Workshop, actually, several this year. The first is with Savvy Authors from Mar 11, 2013 – Apr 7, 2013. For more information and to register for the workshop click:  Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs

“Parsley – the jewel of herbs, both in the pot and on the plate.” ~Albert Stockli


Parsley seeds must go to the devil and back nine times before sprouting.” ~Old Folk saying that stems from the length of time it takes parsley seeds to sprout.

“An honest laborious Country-man, with good Bread, Salt and a little Parsley, will make a contented Meal with a roasted Onion.” ~ John Evelyn (1620-1706)

“A prudent Victorian English girl would not cut parsley, as that would make her unlucky in love, or give it away, as that would give away her luck in love.” ~ From http://www.motherearthliving.com/Mother-Earth-Living/HERBS-of-LOVE

This year we have a thriving parsley plant (pictured alongside asparagus and black-eyed Susan and one close up image) and one that got buried under the dill and is not so content.  The kind of parsley we favor is the flat-leafed Italian variety, best for cooking. From the Kitchen Dictionary:  “There are more than 30 varieties of parley, but the most common are curly-leaf and the more pungent Italian or flat-leaf parsley. The flat-leaf has more flavor than curly parsley and is preferred for cooking, while dried parsley has little flavor at all. In ancient times parsley wreaths were used to ward off drunkenness. Chewing parsley will help with bad breath from food odors such as garlic”~

Read more: http://www.food.com/library/parsley-171#ixzz1RGqCyTOv

Parsley has an interesting and ancient history of use and much lore surrounding it which I find fascinating.   From my favorite source for antiquated herbal information: A Modern Herbal:

“There is an old superstition against transplanting parsley plants. (*I had no idea just how old this superstition was, but am aware of it.)  The herb is said to have been dedicated to Persephone and to funeral rites by the Greeks. It was afterwards consecrated to St. Peter in his character of successor to Charon.

In the sixteenth century, Parsley was known as A. hortense, but herbalists retained the official name petroselinum. Linnaeus in 1764 named it A. petroselinum, but it is now assigned to the genus Carum.

The Greeks held Parsley in high esteem, crowning the victors with chaplets of Parsley at the Isthmian games, and making with it wreaths for adorning the tombs of their dead. The herb was never brought to table of old, being held sacred to oblivion and to the dead. It was reputed to have sprung from the blood of a Greek hero, Archemorus, the forerunner of death, and Homer relates that chariot horses were fed by warriors with the leaves. Greek gardens were often bordered with Parsley and Rue.

Several cultivated varieties exist, the principal being the common plain-leaved, the curled-leaved, the Hamburg or broadleaved and the celery-leaved. Of the variety crispum, or curled-leaved, there are no less than thirty-seven variations; the most valuable are those of a compact habit with close, perfectly curled leaves. The common sort bears close leaves, but is of a somewhat hardier nature than those of which the leaves are curled; the latter are, however, superior in every way. The variety crispum was grown in very early days, being even mentioned by Pliny.

Turner says, ‘if parsley is thrown into fishponds it will heal the sick fishes therein.’

The plain-leaved parsley was the first known in this country, (*she’s speaking of Great Britain) but it is not now much cultivated, the leaves being less attractive than those of the curled, of a less brilliant green, and coarser in flavour. It also has too close a resemblance to Fool’s Parsley (Anthriscus cynapium), a noxious weed of a poisonous nature infesting gardens and fields. The leaves of the latter, though similar, are, however, of a rather darker green and when bruised, emit an unpleasant odour, very different to that of Parsley. They are, also, more finely divided. When the two plants are in flower, they are easily distinguished, Anthriscus having three tiny, narrow, sharp-pointed leaflets hanging down under each little umbellule of the white umbel of flowers, whereas in the Garden Parsley there is usually only one leaflet under the main umbel, the leaflets or bracts at the base of the small umbellules only being short and as fine as hairs. Anthriscus leaves, also, are glossy beneath. Gerard called Anthriscus ‘Dog’s Parsley,’ and says ‘the whole plant is of a naughty smell.’ It contains a peculiar alkaloid called Cynapium.

Stone Parsley (Sison), or Breakstone, is an allied plant, growing in chalky districts. S. Amomum is a species well known in some parts of Britain, with cream-coloured flowers and aromatic seeds. The name is said to be derived from the Celtic sium (running stream), some of the species formerly included growing in moist localities.

Of our Garden Parsley (which he calls Parsele) Gerard says, ‘It is delightful to the taste and agreeable to the stomache,’ also ‘the roots or seeds boiled in ale and drank, cast foorth strong venome or poyson; but the seed is the strongest part of the herbe.’

Though the medicinal virtues of Parsley are still fully recognized, in former times it was considered a remedy for more disorders than it is now used for. Its imagined quality of destroying poison, to which Gerard refers, was probably attributed to the plant from its remarkable power of overcoming strong scents, even the odour of garlic being rendered almost imperceptible when mingled with that of Parsley.

The plant is said to be fatal to small birds and a deadly poison to parrots, also very injurious to fowls, but hares and rabbits will come from a great distance to seek for it, so that it is scarcely possible to preserve it in gardens to which they have access. Sheep are also fond of it, and it is said to be a sovereign remedy to preserve them from footrot, provided it be given them in sufficient quantities.”~

“But he that dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.”~Anne Bronte


“The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.”

*Roses from my garden

“You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.  ~Emma Goldman

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.  ~Beverly Nichols

“A single rose can be my garden…a single friend, my world.”
“Perfumes are the feelings of flowers.”
 ~Heinrich HeineThe Hartz Journey
“Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk
undisturbed.”
“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”
“A profusion of pink roses bending ragged in the rain speaks to me of all gentleness and its enduring.”  ~The Collected Later Poems of William Carlos Williams
‘”People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”

For The Birds


“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
Lou Holtz

Some of the cheeriest, downright euphoric, birds in this world are gold finches. And I don’t know how they’ve managed it, or if they’re responsible, but sunflowers have taken over my entire garden except for the plot where I’ve pulled them out and planted vegetables.  This gradually expanding patch is absolutely hedged in by sunflowers.  I don’t know if the birds flung extra seeds all over the ground, or how all these sunflowers came to be, but I’ve never known a garden to be overrun like this.  (*Mom took this pic of a gold finch at her house.)

I plan to leave swathes of sunflowers, maybe even create a maze, but also want to also raise corn, beans, tomatoes…people food.  However, the finches will be back in droves this summer, warbling in delight over the abundant seed heads.  Other varieties of birds also join in the summer-fest in my yard/garden.  I include many plants with them in mind.

From an informative article about landscaping to attract songbirds I found at Cornell Lab of Ornithology: “A diversity of plants can provide birds with a diversity of food in the form of flower buds, fruit, seeds, nectar, sap, and a wide variety of the insects that associate with those plants. Plants also provide nest sites and nest material, and protected hiding places. The larger the variety of plants you grow, the more different kinds of birds your yard will attract.

Select locally-native plants appropriate for the lighting and soil conditions of your property. Consider how big a new plant might eventually grow, and avoid the surprise of it taking over your yard. (*Our back garden is being overrun by a native clematis vine my daughter Elise and I refer to as ‘The Beast.’ We planted it along the fence which it has covered and that’s fine but now its reaching out greedy tentacles for more.  However, the birds love it.)

Plant locally native species. Plants native to your region and locality are more likely to thrive without pesticides or watering, plus they offer the foods best suited to the native birds of your area. (I don’t know if sunflowers were ever native here but they are now. *Blue bird in pic above.)

Year-round Attractions

To keep the birds coming back for more, select a variety of plants that will produce foods in different seasons. For winter residents and migrants that return early in spring, plants that hold their fruits throughout the winter (“winter-persistent” plants) are a vital food source.”

Of course, to this you also add bird feeders.  The article goes on in length so visit the Cornell site (linked above) for more specifics.  One thing it mentions that really appeals to me and makes me feel validated is that not keeping your yard and garden too tidy is super for the birds.  They revel in a good mess.~

“Dead Wood’s Good!

Leave dead limbs and trees in place if it’s safe and not too unsightly for neighborhood standards to do so. Insects that live in decaying wood are an important food source for birds such as woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches. Cavity-nesting birds such as bluebirds and many woodpeckers need old, hollow trees to nest in. To make a dead tree prettier, consider planting native vines, such as Virginia creeper, to disguise its trunk. (*Chickadee above)

Build a Brush Pile

Recycle dead branches to start a brush pile for your ground-dwelling birds, such as sparrows and towhees. It gives them hiding places and some protection from rain, snow, and wind. Start with thicker branches and put thinner ones over the top. Add your old Christmas tree if you have one.

(Yellow warbler above)

Leave a Mess!

If you don’t tidy up your yard and flowerbeds in fall, birds will love you for it. If you grow annuals, especially daisy-relatives such as purple coneflowers, black-eyed susans, and sunflowers, leave the dead seed heads on them when they fade—goldfinches, redpolls, and other seed-eaters will feast on the seeds. Instead of bagging up fallen leaves for disposal, rake them under your shrubs to act as mulch. They’ll harbor insects that ground-dwelling birds will find, too. And, come spring, those dead leaves, grasses, and plant stems will be a treasure trove for birds searching for nest material in your yard.”

*The above pic is of a redwing black bird near our pond.  They call frequently near watery sites.  I love their song.

“My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather.”  ~Terri Guillemets

My grandmother loved birds and always fed them, as do my parents–big bird lovers, and they belong to the local bird club.  I also love birds, as does my husband.  The old feeder I still use is one he built, and I’ve added a new one my sister gave me for Christmas.  If you aren’t already, please join me in feeding and planting with the birds in mind.  Your yard will be filled with song, among the gladdest and most blessed sounds in the world.  And abundant color and life.

“Have you ever observed a humming-bird moving about in an aerial dance among the flowers – a living prismatic gem…. it is a creature of such fairy-like loveliness as to mock all description.”  ~W.H. Hudson,Green Mansions

My Solution to World Peace


This will come as no surprise to those of you who follow my blog, but I strongly feel and emphatically declare the world would be a far better place if everyone had a garden.  I’m convinced when people are growing things, they’re much less prone to destructive behavior.  Granted, violent extremists (and serial killers) seem beyond redemption, but the rest of humanity would gain immeasurably from a connection with the earth.  To cultivate a garden is to commune with the essence of life and the source of all creation.

“The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there. ” ~George Bernard Shaw

I urge planting herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers in an outdoor plot–convert a patch of lawn if need be–or as part of a community garden. This is a particularly good idea because it brings together people of all ages, from the very young to the elderly, and provides wonderful learning opportunities for children while tapping into the storehouse of knowledge many older people have.   The interaction between those joined in the common purpose of producing food and beautifying their neighborhood helps cultivate the people along with the plants.

Above pic from the site How To Start A Community Garden.

Our church has a communal garden with small plots for those who ask for them.  Folks garden side by side, sharing trials and triumphs and learning together.  More churches could do this if they tilled up part of their yard and put in vegetable plots  instead of only grass.

Sacrilegious?  I don’t think so.

Back to the garden, think sustainable methods, like making compost, and practice organic gardening.   Encourage beneficial insects, butterflies, and song birds to make their home in your yard.  You’d be amazed how many you can attract just by planting a patch of sunflowers and zinnias.

Anything that rots and hasn’t been sprayed with herbicide or pesticide can be used as mulch, although it’s best to compost the material first.  Old hay or straw make good mulch without needing to break down before using.   Different parts of the country have various natural material that can be used.  Organic matter feeds the soil and encourage earthworms.   Remember, as I tell my children and now grandchildren, happy worms make happy dirt.  Worms are the gardener‘s friend.  Non-hybrid, heirloom seed can be saved for next year and shared with others, and old-time flowers can be divided and spread around.

If digging in the earth isn’t an option for you, try growing plants in pots on a patio, deck, rooftop, sunny windowsill, or under fluorescent lights.  These can be fairly inexpensive to set up.   I used to have a stand with long fluorescent lights suspended over it about 6-10 inches above the foliage.   Raise the lights as the plants grow.  You’ll need warm and cool fluorescent bulbs for good plant growth, but not the more costly ‘grow lights.’  Although they’re good too.

“No two gardens are the same.  No two days are the same in one garden.”  ~Hugh Johnson

A film I really enjoyed about how gardening can reform and transform prisoners is Greenfingers with Clive Owen.  The movie is based on a true story which makes it even better, and it’s a love story, another plus, and the fabulous Helen Mirren co-stars.  I also really like actor David Kelly.  He’s wonderful.  The gardens featured  are gorgeous and I never tire of looking at Clive.   This is a feel good movie.

“Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart. ” ~Russell Page

“What Can Kill, Can Cure.”~


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 vitue 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