Tag Archives: Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs

“There’s Rosemary That’s for Remembrance. Pray, You Love, Remember.” ~ Hamlet


“There’s rosemary and rue. These keep
Seeming and savor all the winter long.
Grace and remembrance be to you.”
William Shakespeare

I love rosemary both for its scent and wonderful history.  I’m never without at least one modest plant.  My current specimen is making a come back from a winter in my chilly sun room, and I’m rooting a few cuttings.

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs says:  “For centuries people thought that a rosemary plant would grow no higher than 6 feet in 35 years so as not to stand taller than Christ.  Another story tells that the flowers were originally thought to be white but changed to blue when the Virgin Mary hung her cloak on a bush while fleeing from Herod’s soldiers with the Christ child.

Rosemary possessed powers of protection against evil spirits, or so people thought.  In the Middle Ages, men and women would place sprigs under their pillows to ward off demons and prevent bad dreams.

“There’s rosemary that’s for remembrance. Pray, you love, remember.” ~ Hamlet

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, mostly just because. I rarely cook with it, but love its scent and the wealth of history behind it. Known as the herb of remembrance from the time of ancient Greece, it appears in that immortal verse by Shakespeare.  My fascination with herbs plays a significant role in my historical/light paranormal romance Somewhere My Love, as does Hamlet, for that matter.  I always wanted to write a murder mystery with a focus on herbs and parallels to a Shakespearean play, and so I did.

Regarding Rosemary, Maud Grieve in A Modern Herbal says,
“The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.

At weddings, it was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride, being first dipped into scented water.  Anne of Cleves, (*4th wife of Henry V111 and one who survived him), we are told, wore such a wreath at her wedding. A Rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribands of all colours, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year’s gift…

In early times, Rosemary was freely cultivated in kitchen gardens and came to represent the dominant influence of the house mistress, ‘Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.’

The Treasury of Botany says:
‘There is a vulgar belief in Gloucestershire and other counties, that Rosemary will not grow well unless where the mistress is “master”; and so touchy are some of the lords of creation upon this point, that we have more than once had reason to suspect them of privately injuring a growing rosemary in order to destroy this evidence of their want of authority.’

Rosemary was one of the cordial herbs used to flavour ale and wine. It was also used in Christmas decoration.
“Down with the rosemary and so,
Down with the baies and mistletoe,
Down with the holly, ivie all
Wherewith ye deck the Christmas Hall.” —HERRICK.

“As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship, whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language.”
Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) British writer, statesman and philosopher

Miss Ainslie gathered a bit of rosemary, crushing it between her white fingers. “See,” she said, “some of us are like that it takes a blow to find the sweetness in our souls.”
Lavender and Old Lace
-Myrtle Reed (1874–1911)

The Lure of Herbal Lore


“Faierie-Folks Are in Old Oaks.” ~ Old Herbal Saying
“Where the yarrow grows there is one who know.”~

My fascination with herbs and herbal lore is largely prompted by my absorption with all things historic and the thrill of seeing, touching, tasting, and above all smelling the same plants known by the ancients. Herbs have changed little, if at all, over the centuries and offer us a connection with the past that precious little does in these modern days. It’s pure intoxication to rub fragrant leaves between my fingers and savor the scent while pondering the wealth of lore behind these plants. I hope my enthusiasm enriches your life with a deeper awareness of those people who dwelt on this earth long before us. With such a vast trove of plants to delve into, I’ve only done posts on a handful of herbs, but am working along on adding more. I also give online workshops on herbal lore and the historic medicinal use of herbs.
Regarding my resources, my favorite herbal ever, a massive two-part volume, is A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve first published in 1931. It’s not actually all that modern, but is in comparison to those of the ancient Greek and Roman naturalists, Pliny the Elder (Roman, 23 AD–August 25, 79 AD) Dioscorides (Greek, circa 40—90 AD) and Galen (Roman of Greek ethnicity AD 129-199/217 AD), or British herbalists John Gerard (1545–1612) and Nicholas Culpepper (1616-1654).
Interesting here to note that Pliny the Elder, whose 37 volume Natural History served as the basis of scientific knowledge for centuries, died on August 25, 79 A.D. while attempting the rescue by ship of a friend and his family from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The prevailing wind wouldn’t allow his ship to leave the shore. His subsequent collapse and death were attributed to toxic fumes. Go figure. His nephew, Pliny the younger, writer, historian, and Roman senator is also an important figure because of all the letters he left behind detailing events and persons.
Back to Maude Grieve and A Modern Herbal, apparently in the early twentieth century it wasn’t illegal to include instructions for growing and distilling opiates, but it is now so I won’t. However, despite her quaintness or perhaps because of it, there’s a wealth of information in her herbal.
I’m also quite fond of Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, by Rodale Press. I misplaced my original volume or foolishly lent it to someone, or perhaps it wasn’t mine to begin with and I returned it. All I know is it could not be found and so I bought another. Engrossing.
A little known volume I’ve found vastly useful regarding Native American plants and their historic uses is entitled Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants by Bradford Angier, published in 1978. This invaluable book was given to me by my dear late grandmother.
My collection is a rather random acquisition and I’m adding all the time, but I’ve learned a lot. OK, so those are my three faves out of all the herbals I’ve read, available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ve also come across innumerable online sites that I refer and link to as they arise.
somewhere_my_lass_final1 (1)In preparation for writing my light paranormal romance, Somewhere My Lass, I did a lot of research on medieval hospitals and came across some fascinating sites. For medicinal info on ancient British/Scottish practices found at the monastic hospital of Soutra outside of Edinburgh visit: A Day In The Life Of A Medieval Hospital.
 For more on medieval hospitals in general visit this site:

“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.

There’s Rosemary, That’s For Remembrance


“There’s rosemary and rue. These keep
Seeming and savor all the winter long.
Grace and remembrance be to you.”
– William Shakespeare (Winter’s Tale, Act 4, Scene 4)

I love rosemary both for its scent and wonderful history.  I’m never without at least a modest plant.  My current specimen is rather pathetic.    It’s been a long, cold winter on my window sill.  Even my sun space was too frigid this year.

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs says:  “For centuries people thought that a rosemary plant would grow no higher than 6 feet in 35 years so as not to stand taller than Christ.  Another story tells that the flowers were originally thought to be white but changed to blue when the Virgin Mary hung her cloak on a bush while fleeing from Herod’s soldiers with the Christ child.

Rosemary possessed powers of protection against evil spirits, or so people thought.  In the Middle Ages, men and women would place sprigs under their pillows to ward off demons and prevent bad dreams.

“There’s rosemary that’s for remembrance. Pray, you love, remember.” ~ Hamlet

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, mostly just because. I rarely cook with it, but love its scent and the wealth of history behind it. Known as the herb of remembrance from the time of ancient Greece, it appears in that immortal verse by Shakespeare.  My fascination with herbs plays a significant role in my historical/light paranormal romance Somewhere My Love, as does Hamlet, for that matter.  I always wanted to write a murder mystery with a focus on herbs and parallels to a Shakespearean play, and so I did.

Regarding Rosemary, Maud Grieve says in A Modern Herbal,
“The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.

At weddings, it was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride, being first dipped into scented water. Anne of Cleves, we are told, wore such a wreath at her wedding. A Rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribands of all colours, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year’s gift…

In early times, Rosemary was freely cultivated in kitchen gardens and came to represent the dominant influence of the house mistress, ‘Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.’

The Treasury of Botany says:
‘There is a vulgar belief in Gloucestershire and other counties, that Rosemary will not grow well unless where the mistress is “master”; and so touchy are some of the lords of creation upon this point, that we have more than once had reason to suspect them of privately injuring a growing rosemary in order to destroy this evidence of their want of authority.’

Rosemary was one of the cordial herbs used to flavour ale and wine. It was also used in Christmas decoration.
“Down with the rosemary and so,
Down with the baies and mistletoe,
Down with the holly, ivie all
Wherewith ye deck the Christmas Hall.” —HERRICK.

“As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship, whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language.”
– Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) British writer, statesman and philosopher

Miss Ainslie gathered a bit of rosemary, crushing it between her white fingers. “See,” she said, “some of us are like that it takes a blow to find the sweetness in our souls.”
Lavender and Old Lace
-Myrtle Reed (1874–1911)