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Virginia Strawberry
In olden days strawberry leaves were added to cooling drinks and used in baths. According to Eleanour Rohde, strawberry wine was a favorite of Sir Walter Raleigh. But best of all uses is to eat the berries with sugar and the thick, clotted cream of Devonshire, called crême renversée in France. The wood strawberries served with white wine are luscious too.
It is no longer in the United States Pharmacopoeia, nevertheless the volatile oil distilled from the leaves is much used to rub on joints for rheumatic pains, for lumbago, sciatica, and similar complaints. It is also administered internally in the treatment of rheumatic fevers.
Hyssop is said to give a fine scent and taste to honey and should be planted near beehives. An essential oil extracted from the green portions is fragrant, and used in making melissa water, and in English eau de cologne, and, like clary sage, gives a note to perfumes today.
Elecampane is not a potherb or a perfume plant, but is included because of sentiment, and because, with its somewhat coarse, daisy-like golden flowers, it is a handsome plant for a background to the other herbs.
Florentine Iris
This exquisite iris is a hardy plant native to central and southern Europe, and in our own South it is almost a weed. It flowers about the third week in May and rises eighteen inches or more high. In spite of the fact that it is not new or in the least expensive its pearly iridescent color and delicate iris-like fragrance make it one of the most desirable irises.
Laurel, Sweet Bay
The laurel is native to the Mediterranean region where it grows to a tree up to forty feet high. Its glossy, evergreen, scented foliage is famous as composing the wreaths of victory and the tree has played an important role in Greek and Roman mythology. No one could call the laurel a herb, but the leaves are so constantly mentioned in recipes, and it is such a handsome plant, that we recommend every herb gardener to have at least two of them.
True Lavender
Lavandula vera produces the best oil. The deeper the color of the calyx the stronger the scent. In some dark flowers there is said to be a suggestion of jasmine. In France the oil is distilled from the wild plants, and in England, where the best of all lavender perfumes are obtained, the oil is extracted from cultivated plants.
Lovage is native to Europe, and according to Vilmorin the whole plant has a sweetish aromatic odor, which it did not have in my garden.
Lemon Verbena
The leaves of lemon verbena are used for flavor and perfume. Infused in a cold fruit drink such as barley water, lemon squash, and iced tea, they are said to enhance the flavor of the lemon in the drinks, and make it taste like fresh limes. The dried leaves are said by some to be good as teas, but we found them tasteless.
To make horehound candy, a popular domestic medicine, the fresh plants are boiled down until the juice is extracted, and then sugar is added and the whole boiled until it candies. It tastes bitter, but has a definite flavor of its own.
German Chamomile
The plant is an annual, and is much smaller and has coarser leaves than those of the Anthemis nobilis. The flower stems are glabrous, rising to seven or eight inches high, and bearing flowers three-quarters of an inch across.
Balm tea was thought to be good for fevers, headaches, and asthmas. It is said to be carminative and antispasmodic. The oil from the plant was in salves for healing wounds. According to Parkinson, the juice of it was made into a tansy with eggs, sugar, and rose water and given to women to bring on the afterbirth, others said it increased the flow of the milk.
Wild peppermint plants prefer a moist soil, but in the garden a deep soil which is a little moist is satisfactory. The largest supply of peppermint oil comes from America and Japan, but it is also cultivated in Europe.
Bergamot mint, lemon mint, and orange mint, is native to Europe and naturalized in America. It is deliciously fragrant and tastes of lemon. Although it is naturalized in America, no plants were to be obtained, so mine came to me from Edinburgh. These have a purplish corolla and are more reddish than most mints, have smooth flower stalks and decumbent smooth stems to two feet long.
Bee Balm
The bee balm is a handsome plant native from Quebec to Michigan, and south to Georgia. It has conspicuous, raggedy, red flower heads, and exceedingly fragrant leaves and flowers. The whole plant except the stems feels soft and woolly.
Sweet Cicely
The sweet cicely is native to the mountains of Savoy, and has become naturalized in England, Scotland, and Ireland. The leaves are fern-like, or tansy-like, much divided, each little division having its margins cut and being hairy.
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