Amazing articles on just about every subject...

Gardens - The Herb Garden

( Originally Published 1901 )

" To have nothing here but Sweet Herbs, and those only choice ones too, and every kind its bed by itself."


IN Montaigne's time it was the custom to dedicate special chapters of books to special persons. Were it so today, I should dedicate this chapter to the memory of a friend who has been constantly in my mind while writing it ; for she formed in her beautiful garden, near our modern city, Chicago, the only perfect herb garden I know, — a garden that is the counterpart of the garden of Erasmus, made four centuries ago; for in it are "nothing but Sweet Herbs, and choice ones too, and every kind its bed by itself." A corner of it is shown on page 108. This herb garden is so well laid out that I will give directions therefrom for a bed of similar planting. It may be placed at the base of a grass bank or at the edge of a garden. Let two garden walks be laid out, one at the lower edge, perhaps, of the bank, the other parallel, ten, fifteen, twenty feet away. Let narrow paths be left at regular intervals running parallel from walk to walk, as do the rounds of a ladder from the two side bars. In the narrow oblong beds formed by these paths plant solid rows of herbs, each variety by itself, with no attempt at diversity of design. You can thus walk among them, and into them, and smell them in their concentrated strength, and you can gather them at ease. On the bank can be placed the creeping Thyme, and other low-running herbs. Medicinal shrubs should be the companions of the herbs ; plant these as you will, according to their growth and habit, making them give variety of outline to the herb garden.

There are few persons who have a strong enough love of leaf scents, or interest in herbs, to make them willing to spend much time in working in an herb garden. The beauty and color of flowers would compensate them, but not the growth or scent of leafage. It is impossible to describe to one who does not feel by instinct "the lure of green things growing," the curious stimulation, the sense of intoxication, of delight, brought by working among such green-growing, sweet-scented things. The maker of this interesting garden felt this stimulation and delight ; and at her city home on a bleak day in December we both revelled in holding and breathing in the scent of tiny sprays of Rue, Rosemary, and Balm which, still green, had been gathered from beneath fallen leaves and stalks in her country garden, as a tender and grateful attention of one herb lover to another. Thus did she prove Shakespeare's words true even on the shores of Lake Michigan : —

" Rosemary and Rue: these keep
Seeming and savor all the winter long."

There is ample sentiment in the homely inhabitants of the herb garden. The herb garden of the Countess of Warwick is called by her a Garden of Sentiment. Each plant is labelled with a pottery marker, swallow-shaped, bearing in ineradicable colors the flower name and its significance. Thus there is Balm for sympathy, Bay for glory, Fox-glove for sincerity, Basil for hatred.

A recent number of The Garden deplored the dying out of herbs in old English gardens ; so I think it may prove of interest to give the list of herbs and medicinal shrubs and trees which grew in this friend's herb garden in the new world across the sea.

Arnica, Anise, Ambrosia, Agrimony, Aconite.

Belladonna, Black Alder, Betony, Boneset or Thorough-wort, Sweet Basil, Bryony, Borage, Burnet, Butternut, Balm, Melissa officinalis, Balm (variegated), Bee-balm, or Oswego tea, mild, false, and true Bergamot, Burdock, Bloodroot, Black Cohosh, Barberry, Bittersweet, Butterfly-weed, Birch, Blackberry, Button-Snakeroot, Buttercup.

Costmary, or Sweet Mary, Calamint, Choke-cherry, Comfrey, Coriander, Cumin, Catnip, Caraway, Chives, Castor-oil Bean, Colchicum, Cedronella, Camomile, Chicory, Cardinal-flower, Celandine, Cotton, Cranesbill, Cow-parsnip, High-bush Cranberry.

Dogwood, Dutchman's-pipe, Dill, Dandelion, Dock, Dogbane.

Elder, Elecampane, Slippery Elm.

Sweet Fern, Fraxinella, Fennel, Flax, Fumitory, Fig, Sweet Flag, Blue Flag, Foxglove.

Goldthread, Gentian, Goldenrod.

Hellebore, Henbane, Hops, Horehound, Hyssop, Horse-radish, Horse-chestnut, Hemlock, Small Hemlock or Fool's Parsley.

American Ipecac, Indian Hemp, Poison Ivy, wild, false, and blue Indigo, wild yellow Indigo, wild white Indigo.

Juniper, Joepye-weed.

Lobelia, Lovage, Lavender Lemon Verbena, Lemon, Mountain Laurel, Yellow Lady's-slippers, Lily of the Val-ley, Liverwort, Wild Lettuce, Field Larkspur, Lungwort.

Mosquito plant, Wild Mint, Motherwort, Mullein, Sweet Marjoram, Meadowsweet, Marshmallow, Mandrake, Mulberry, black and white Mustard, Mayweed, Mugwort, Marigold.


Opium Poppy, Orange, Oak.

Pulsatilla, Pellitory or Pyrethrum, Red Pepper, Peppermint, Pennyroyal, False Pennyroyal, Pope-weed, Pine, Pigweed, Pumpkin, Parsley, Prince's-pine, Peony, Plantain. Rhubarb, Rue, Rosemary, Rosa gallica, Dog Rose.

Sassafras, Saxifrage, Sweet Cicely, Sage (common blue), Sage (red), Summer Savory, Winter Savory, Santonin, Sweet Woodruff, Saffron, Spearmint, wild Sarsaparilla, Black Snakeroot, Squills, Senna, St.-John's-Wort, Sorrel, Spruce Fir, Self-heal, Southernwood.

Thorn Apple, Tansy, Thyme, Tobacco, Tarragon. Valerian, Dogtooth Violet, Blue Violet.

Witchhazel, Wormwood, Wintergreen, Willow, Walnut. Yarrow.

It will be noted that some common herbs and medicinal plants are missing; there is, for instance, no Box ; it will not live in that climate ; and there are many other herbs which this garden held for a short time, but which succumbed under the fierce winter winds from Lake Michigan.

Another name for the herb garden was the olitory ; and the word herber, or herbar, would at first sight appear to be an herbarium, an herb garden ; it was really an arbor. I have such satisfaction in herb gardens, and in the herbs themselves, and in all their uses, all their lore, that I am confirmed in my belief that I really care far less for Botany than for that old-time regard and study of plants covered by the significant name, Wort-cunning. Wort was a good old common English word, lost now in our use, save as the terminal syllable of certain plant-names; it is a pity we have given it up since its equivalent, herb, seems so variable in application, especially in that very trying expression of which we weary so of late — herbaceous border. This seems an architect's phrase rather than a florist's ; you always find it on the plans of fine houses with gardens. To me it annihilates every possibility of sentiment, and it usually isn't correct, since many of the plants in these borders are woody perennials instead of annuals; any garden planting that is not "bedding-out" is wildly named " an herbaceous border."

Herb gardens were no vanity and no luxury in our grandmothers' day; they were a necessity. To them every good housewife turned for nearly all that gave variety to her cooking, and to fill her domestic pharmacopoeia. The physician placed his chief reliance for supplies on herb gardens and the simples of the fields. An old author says, " Many an old wife or country woman doth often more good with a few known and common garden herbs, than our bombast physicians, with all their prodigious, sumptuous, far-fetched, rare, conjectural medicines." Doctor and goodwife both had a rival in the parson. The picture of the country parson and his wife given by old George Herbert was equally true of the New England minister and his wife:

" In the knowledge of simples one thing would be care-fully observed, which is to know what herbs may be used instead of drugs of the same nature, and to make the garden the shop ; for home-bred medicines are both more easy for the parson's purse, and more familiar for all men's bodies. So when the apothecary useth either for loosing Rhubarb, or for binding Bolearmana, the parson useth damask or white Rose for the one, and Plantain, Shepherd's Purse, and Knot-grass for the other; and that with better success. As for spices, he doth not only prefer home-bred things before them, but condemns them for vanities, and so shuts them out of his family, esteeming that there is no spice comparable for herbs to Rosemary, Thyme, savory Mints, and for seeds to Fennel and Caraway. Accordingly, for salves, his wife seeks not the city, but prefers her gardens and fields before all outlandish gums."

Simples were medicinal plants, so called because each of these vegetable growths was held to possess an individual virtue, to be an element, a simple substance constituting a single remedy. The noun was generally used in the plural.

You must not think that sowing, gathering, drying, and saving these herbs and simples in any convenient or unstudied way was all that was necessary. Not at all ; many and manifold were the rules just when to plant them, when to pick them, how to pick them, how to dry them, and even how to keep them. Gervayse Markham was very wise in herb lore, in the suited seasons of the moon, and hour of the day or night, for herb culling. In the garret of every old house, such as that of the Ward Homestead, shown on page 116, with the wreckage of house furniture, were hung bunches of herbs and simples, waiting for winter use.

The still-room was wholly devoted to storing these herbs and manufacturing their products. This was the careful work of the house mistress and her daughters. It was not intrusted to servants. One book of instruction was entitled, The Vertuouse Boke of Distyllacyon of the Waters of all Manner of Herbs.

Thomas Tusser wrote : —

"Good huswives provide, ere an sickness do come,
Of sundrie good things in house to have some,
Good aqua composita, vinegar tart,
Rose water and treacle to comfort the heart,
Good herbes in the garden for agues that burn,
That over strong heat to good temper turn."

Both still-room and simple-closet of a dame of the time of Queen Elizabeth or Queen Anne had crowded shelves. Many an herb and root, unused today, was deemed then of sovereign worth. From a manuscript receipt book I have taken names of ingredients, many of which are seldom, perhaps never, used now in medicine. Unripe Blackber ries, Ivy berries, Eglantine berries, " Ashen Keys," Acorns, stones of Sloes, Parsley seed, Houseleeks, unripe Hazelnuts, Daisy roots, Strawberry "strings,

Woodbine tops, the inner bark of Oak and of red Filberts, green Broom Cod," White Thorn berries, Turnips, Barberry bark, Dates, Goldenrod, Gourd seed, Blue Lily roots, Parsnip seed, Asparagus roots, Peony roots.

From herbs and simples were made, for internal use, liquid medicines such as wines and waters, syrups, juleps; and solids, such as conserves, confections, treacles, eclegms, tinctures. There were for external use, amulets, oils, ointments, liniments, plasters, cataplasms, salves, poultices ; also sacculi, little bags of flowers, seeds, herbs, etc., and pomanders and posies.

That a certain stimulus could be given to the brain by inhaling the scent of these herbs will not be doubted, I think, by the herb lover even of this century. In the Haven of Health, 1636, cures were promised by sleeping on herbs, smelling of them, binding the leaves on the forehead, and in-haling the vapors of their boiling or roasting. Mint was " a good Posie for Students to oft smell." Pennyroyal "quickened the brain by smelling oft." Basil cleared the wits, and so on.

The use of herbs in medicine is far from being obsolete; and when we give them more stately names we swallow the same dose. Dandelion bitters is still used for diseases caused by an ill-working liver.

Wintergreen, which was universally made into tea or oil for rheumatism, appears now in prescriptions for the same disease under the name of Gaultheria. Peppermint, once a sovereign cure for heartburn and " nuralogy," serves us decked with the title of Menthol. " Saffern-tea " never has lost its good standing as a cure for the "jarnders." In country communities scores of old herbs and simples are used in vast amounts ; and in every village is some aged man or woman wise in gathering, distilling, and compounding these " potent and parable medicines," to use Cotton Mather's words. One of these gatherers of simples is shown opposite page 12o, a quaint old figure, seen afar as we drive through country by-roads, as she bends over some dense clump of weeds in distant meadow or pasture.

In our large city markets bunches of sweet herbs are still sold; and within a year I have seen men passing my city home selling great bunches of Cat-nip and Mint, in the spring, and dried Sage, Marjo-ram, and other herbs in the autumn. In one case I noted that it was the same man, unmistakably a real countryman, whom I had noted selling quail on the street, when he had about forty as fine quail as I ever saw. I never saw him sell quail, nor herbs. I think his customers are probably all foreigners — emigrants from continental Europe, chiefly Poles and Italians.

The use of herbs as component parts of love philters and charms is a most ancient custom, and lingered into the nineteenth century in country communities. I knew but one case of the manufacture and administering of a love philter, and it was by a person to whom such an action would seem utterly incongruous. A very gentle, retiring girl in a New England town eighty years ago was deeply in love with the minister whose church she attended, and of which her father was the deacon. The parson was a widower, nearly of middle age, and exceedingly sombre and reserved in character — saddened, doubt-less, by the loss of his two young children and his wife through that scourge of New England, consumption; but he was very handsome, and even his sadness had its charm. His house, had burned down as an additional misfortune, and he lived in lodgings with two elderly women of his congregation. Therefore church meetings and various gatherings of committees were held at the deacon's house, and the deacon's daughter saw him day after day, and grew more desperately in love. Desperate certainly she was when she dared even to think of giving a love philter to a minister. The recipe was clearly printed on the last page of an old dream book ; and she carried it out in every detail. It was easy to introduce it into the mug of flip which was always brewed for the meeting, and the parson drank it down abstractedly, thinking that it seemed more bitter than usual, but showing no sign of this thought. The philter was promised to have effect in making the drinker love profoundly the first per-son of opposite sex whom he or she saw after drinking it; and of course the minister saw Hannah as she stood waiting for his empty tankard. The dull details of parish work were talked over in the usual dragging way for half an hour, when the minister became conscious of an intense coldness which seemed to benumb him in every limb ; and he tried to walk to the fireplace. Suddenly all in the room became aware that he was very ill, and one called out, " He's got a stroke." Luckily the town doctor was also a deacon, and was therefore present ; and he promptly said, " He's poisoned," and hot water from the teakettle, whites of eggs, mustard, and other domestic antidotes were administered with promptitude and effect. It is useless to detail the days of agony to the wretched girl, during which the sick man wavered between life and death, nor her devoted care of him. Soon after his recovery he solemnly proposed marriage to her, and was refused. But he never wavered in his love for her; and every year he renewed his offer and told his wishes, to be met ever with a cold refusal, until ten years had passed ; when into his brain there entered a perception that her refusal had some extraordinary element in it. Then, with a warmth of determination worthy a younger man, he demanded an explanation, and received a confession of the poisonous love philter. I suppose time had softened the memory of his suffering, at any rate they were married—so the promise of the love charm came true, after all.

Amos Bronson Alcott was another author of Concord, a sweet philosopher whom I shall ever remember with deepest gratitude as the only person who in my early youth ever imagined any literary capacity in me (and in that he was sadly mistaken, for he fancied I would be a poet). I have read very faithfully all his printed writings, trying to believe him a great man, a seer ; but I cannot, in spite of my gratitude for his flattering though unfulfilled prophecy, discover in his books any profound signs of depth or novelty of thought. In his Tablets are some very pleasant, if not surprisingly wise, essays on domestic subjects; one, on " Sweet Herbs," tells cheerfully of the womanly care of the herb garden, but shows that, when written — about 1850 — borders of herbs were growing infrequent.

One great delight of old English gardens is never afforded us in New England ; we do not grow Lavender beds. I have of course seen single plants of Lavender, so easily winter-killed, but I never have seen a Lavender bed, nor do I know of one. It is a great loss. A bed or hedge of Lavender is pleasing in the same way that the dress of a Quaker lady is pleasing; it is reposeful, refined. It has a soft effect at the edge of a garden, like a blue-gray haze, and always reminds me of doves. The power of association or some inherent quality of the plant, makes Lavender always suggest freshness and cleanliness.

We may linger a little with a few of these old herb favorites. One of the most balmy and beautiful of all the sweet breaths borne by leaves or blossoms is that of Basil, which, alas ! I see so seldom. I have always loved it, and can never pass it without pressing its leaves in my hand; and I cannot express the satisfaction, the triumph, with which I read these light-giving lines of old Thomas Tusser, which showed me why I loved it :—

"Faire Basil desireth it may be hir lot
To growe as the gilly flower trim in a pot
That Ladies and Gentils whom she doth serve
May help hir as needeth life to preserve."

An explanation of this rhyme is given by Tusser Redivivus : " Most people stroak Garden Basil which leaves a grateful smell on the hand and he will have it that Stroaking from a fair lady preserves the life of the Basil."

This is a striking example of floral telepathy ; you know what the Basil wishes, and the Basil knows and craves your affection, and repays your caress with her perfume and growth. It is a case of mutual attraction ; and I beg the " Gentle Reader " never to pass a pot or plant of Basil without " stroaking" it ; that it may grow and multiply and forever retain its relations with fair women, as a type of the purest, the most clinging, and grateful love.

One amusing use of Basil (as given in one of my daughter's old Herbals) was intended to check obesity : —

" To MAKE THAT A WOMAN SHALL EAT OF NOTHING THAT IS SET UPON THE TABLE:— Take a little green Basil, and when Men bring the Dishes to the Table put it underneath them that the Woman perceive it not; so Men say that she will eat of none of that which is in the Dish whereunder the Basil lieth."

I cannot understand why so sinister an association was given to a pot of Basil by Boccaccio, who makes the unhappy Isabella conceal the head of her murdered lover in a flower pot under a plant of Basil; for in Italy Basil is ever a plant of love, not of jealousy or crime. One of its common names is Bacia, Nicola — Kiss me, Nicholas. Peasant girls always place Basil in their hair when they go to meet their sweethearts, and an offered sprig of Basil is a love declaration. It is believed that Boccaccio obtained this tale from some tradition of ancient Greece, where Basil is a symbol of hatred and despair. The figure of poverty was there associated with a Basil plant as with rags. It had to be sown with abuse, with cursing and railing, else it would not flourish. In India its sanctity is above all other herbs. A pious Indian has at death a leaf of Basil placed in his bosom as his reward. The house surrounded by Basil is blessed, and all who cherish the plant are sure of heaven.

Mithridate was a favorite medicine of our Puritan ancestors ; there were various elaborate compound rules for its manufacture, in which Rue always took a part. It was simple enough in the beginning, when King Mithridates invented it as an antidote against poison: twenty leaves of Rue pounded with two Figs, two dried Walnuts and a grain of salt ; which receipt may be taken cum grano salis. Rue also entered into the composition of the famous " Vinegar of the Four Thieves." These four rascals, at the time of the Plague in Marseilles, invented this vinegar, and, protected by its power, entered infected houses and carried away property without taking the disease. Rue had innumerable virtues. Pliny says eighty-four remedies were made of it. It was of special use in case of venomous bites, and to counteract " Head-Ach " from over indulgence in wine, especially if a little Sage were added. It promoted love in man and diminished it in woman ; it was good for the ear-ache, eye-ache, stomach-ache, leg-ache, back-ache ; good for an ague, good for a surfeit ; indeed, it would seem wise to make Rue a daily article of food and thus insure perpetual good health.

The scent of Rue seems never dying. A sprig of it was given me by a friend, and it chanced to lie for a single night on the sheets of paper upon which this chapter is written. The scent has never left them, and indeed the odor of Rue hangs literally around this whole book.

Summer Savory and Sweet Marjoram are rarely employed now in American cooking. They are still found in my kitchen, and are used in scant amount as a flavoring for stuffing of fowl. Many who taste and like the result know not the old-fashioned materials used to produce that flavor, and "of the younger sort " the names even are wholly unrecognized.

Sage is almost the only plant of the English kitchen garden which is ordinarily grown in America. I like its fresh grayness in the garden. In the days of our friend John Gerarde, the beloved old herbalist, there was no fixed botanical nomenclature ; but he scarcely needed botanical terms, for he had a most felicitous and dextrous use of words. " Sage hath broad leaves, long, wrinkled, rough, and whitish, like in roughness to woollen cloth threadbare." What a description ! it is far more vivid than the picture here shown. Sage has never lost its established place as a flavoring for the stuffing for ducks, geese, and for sausages; but its universal employment as a flavoring for Sage cheese is nearly obsolete. In my childhood home, we always had Sage cheese with, other cheeses ; it was believed to be an aid in digestion. I had forgotten its taste ; and I must say I didn't like it when I ate it last summer, in New Hampshire.

Tansy was highly esteemed in England as a medicine, a cosmetic, and a flavoring and ingredient in cooking. It was rubbed over raw meat to keep the flies away and prevent decay, for in those days of no refrigerators there had to be strong measures taken for the perservation of all perishable food. Its strong scent and taste would be deemed intolerable to us, who can scarce endure even the milder Sage in any large quantity. A good folk name for it is " Bitter Buttons." Gerarde wrote of Tansy,

" In the spring time, are made with the leaves hereof newly sprung up, and with Eggs, cakes or Tansies, which be pleasant in Taste and goode for the Stomach."

" To Make a Tansie the Best Way," I learn from The Accomplisht Cook, was thus : —

" Take twenty Eggs, and take away five whites, strain them with a quart of good sweet thick Cream, and put to it a grated nutmeg, a race of ginger grated, as much cinnamon beaten fine, and a penny white loaf grated also, mix them all together with a little salt, then stamp some green wheat with some tansie herbs, strain it into the cream and eggs and stir all together ; then take a clean frying-pan, and a quarter of a pound of butter, melt it, and put in the tansie, and stir it continually over the fire with a slice, ladle, or saucer, chop it, and break it as it thickens, and being well incorporated put it out of the pan into a dish, and chop it very fine ; then make the frying-pan very clean, and put in some more butter, melt it, and fry it whole or in spoonfuls; being finely fried on both sides, dish it up and sprinkle it with rose-vinegar, grape-verjuyce, elder-vinegar, cowslip-vinegar, or the juyce of three or four oranges, and strow on a good store of fine sugar."

To all of this we can say that it would certainly be a very good dish—without the Tansv. Another mediæval recipe was of Tansy, Feverfew, Parsley, and Violets mixed with eggs, fried in butter, and sprinkled with sugar.

The Minnow-Tansie of old Izaak Walton, a " Tanzie for Lent," was made thus : —

" Being well washed with salt and cleaned, and their heads and tails cut off, and not washed after, they prove excellent for that use ; that is being fried with the yolks of eggs, the flowers of cowslips and of primroses, and a little tansy, thus used they make a dainty dish."

The name Tansy was given afterward to a rich fruit cake which had no Tansy in it. It was apparently a favorite dish of Pepys. A certain derivative custom obtained in some New England towns—certainly in Hartford and vicinity. Tansy was used to flavor the Fast Day pudding. One old lady recalls that it was truly a bitter food to the younger members of the family ; Miss Shelton, in her entertaining book, The Salt Box House, tells of Tansy cakes, and says children did not dislike them. Tansy bitters were made of Tansy leaves placed in a bottle with New England rum. They were a favorite spring tonic, where all physicians and housewives prescribed " the bitter principle " in the spring time.

No doubt Tansy was among the earliest plants brought over by the settlers ; it was carefully cherished in the herb garden, then spread to the door-yard and then to farm lanes. As early as 1746 the traveller Kalm noted Tansy growing wild in hedges and along roads in Pennsylvania. Now it extends its sturdy growth for miles along the country road, one of the rankest of weeds. It still is used in the manufacture of proprietary medicines, and for this purpose is cut with a sickle in great armfuls and gathered in cartloads. I have always liked its scent; and its leaves, as Gerarde said, "infinitely

jagged and'nicked and curled " ; and its cheerful little " bitter buttons " of gold. Some old flowers adapt themselves to modern conditions and look up-to-date ; but to me the Tansy, wherever found, is as openly old-fashioned as a betty-lamp or a foot-stove.

On July i, 1846, an old grave was opened in the ancient " God's Acre" near the halls of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This grave was a brick vault covered with irregularly shaped flagstones about three inches thick. Over it was an ancient slab of peculiar stone, unlike any others in the cemetery save those over the graves of two presidents of the College, Rev. Dr. Chauncy and Dr. Oakes. As there were headstones near this slab inscribed with the names of the great-grandchildren of President Dunster, it was believed that this was the grave of a third President, Dr. Dunster. He died in the year 1659; but his death took place in midwinter; and when this coffin was opened, the skeleton was found entirely surrounded with common Tansy, in seed, a portion of which had been pulled up by the roots, and it was there-fore believed by many who thought upon the matter that it was the coffin and grave of President Mitchell, who died in July, 1668, of "an extream fever." The skeleton was found still wrapped in a cerecloth, and in the record of the church is a memorandum of payment " for a terpauling to wrap Mr. Mitchell." The Tansy found in this coffin, placed there more than two centuries ago, still retained its shape and scent.

This use of Tansy at funerals lingered long in country neighborhoods in New England, in some vicinities till fifty years ago. To many older per-sons the Tansy is therefore so associated with grewsome sights and sad scenes, that they turn from it wherever seen, and its scent to them is unbearable. One elderly friend writes me: " I never see the leaves of Tansy without recalling also the pale dead faces I have so often seen encircled by the dank, ugly leaves. Often as a child have I been sent to gather all the Tansy I could find, to be carried by my mother to the house of mourning; and I gathered it, loathing to touch it, but not daring to refuse, and I loathe it still."

Tansy not only retains its scent for a long period, but the " golden buttons " retain their color ; I have seen them in New England parlors forming part of a winter posy ; this, I suppose, in neighborhoods where Tansy was-little used at funerals.

If an herb garden had no other reason for exist ence, let me commend it to the attention of those of ample grounds and kindly hearts, for a special purpose—as a garden for the blind. Our many flower-charities furnish flowers throughout the summer to our hospitals, but what sweet-scented flowers are there for those debarred from any sight of beauty ? Through the past summer my daughters sent several times a week, by the generous carriage of the Long Island Express Company, boxes of wild flowers to any hospital of their choice. What could we send to the blind ? The midsummer flowers of field and meadow gratified the sight, but scent was lacking. A sprig of Sweet Fern or Bayberry was the only resource. Think of the pleasure which could be given to the sightless by a posy of sweet-scented leaves, by Southernwood, Mint, Balm, or Basil, and when memory was thereby awakened in those who once had seen, what tender thoughts ! If this book could influence the planting of an herb garden for the solace of those who cannot see the flowers of field and garden, then it will not have been writ-ten in vain.

Home | More Articles | Email: