Yarrow, the Battlefield Boo Boo Butter

Yarrow (Achillea millifolium) is a decorative plant native to the temperate zones of North America, Europe and Asia and is commonly found in fields, pastures and ditches.  It’s use as a medicinal herb goes back thousands of years and the plant comes with a rich folklore history.  How many plants can claim a god keeps it in his first aid kit?  Well, actually quite a few.  But legend has it that the Achillea in Achillea millifolium is due to the god Achilles’ use of this plant to heal his soldiers’ wounds in battle (Ranson, 1954).  Historical and contemporary use of this plant include as a styptic to slow and stop bleeding and a vulnerary to promote wound healing, as well as a diaphoretic, astringent, tonic, stimulant and mild aromatic (Grieve, 1971).  These properties let to its use as to stop nosebleed, calm bleeding hemorrhoids, treat rheumatism and toothache, as a gargle for sore throat, to reduce blood pressure, and for relief from colds, bronchitis, coughs, asthma, fevers and catarrh (Grieve, 1971)(Dawson, 1980).

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The Milk Flowers of Spring, AKA Snowdrops!

Galanthus_nivalis_close-up_aka We’ve seen the first hard frost and the hardiest of the nursery stock has finally giving up the ghost for the season.  For me this is both a peaceful time of year and the time I start getting antsy.  The buzz, buzz, buzz, of plant growth and insect activity is quiet.  Below the soil the plants are still perking away slowly, getting ready for spring.  But I can’t SEE them.  By late December or January I’m rereading garden magazines and my seed catalogs are more thumbed over than a 14 year old boys secret Playboy stash. Thank goodness for snowdrops (Galanthus spp.).

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Interview on Lewistalks: Herbs and Sci Fi

A local new source just published an interview with me for Blooming Artichoke Herbary, as well as my husband, Tom Gondolfi, and his publishing company.  To learn about our joint efforts with herbs and the written science fiction word here is the article for your enjoyment.

Tom and Colleen Gondolfi: Passionate About Science Fiction and Herbs

 

Cats vs. Catnip

018At Blooming Artichoke we grow lots of different perennial herbs.  Some are easy plants to grow, some are more exact and difficult, but catnip (Nepeta cataria) has to be the most challenging of the lot because it calls out to all its destroyers within sniffing distance.

First of all, I love cats.  I’ve been a certified crazy cat lady my whole life.  I love plants.  And I have the plant geek certificates and stack of dirty garden gloves to prove it.  There are just times when those two loves do not work well together.  Catnip and furballs are a good example. 

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Feed the Bees…Plant an Herb!

Monarda punctataAnyone watching the news and/or their garden is aware of the challenges facing our honey bee and bumblebee populations.  Be a bee friendly gardener by adding pollinator friendly plants into your garden to give the bees (and other pollinators) a reliable food source free of chemicals.

Nothing says “hiya Bee!” like an herb.  Herb gardens are abuzz with the sound and sight of happy bees enjoying pollen and nectar from flowering herbs.  This isn’t a one way street either, all that bee activity is making sure that your whole garden is being well pollinated and productive.

So, out of all the herbs to choose which should you plant?  That depends on garden conditions such as available sunlight, soil type, water availability, etc.  But ideally, your choices should provide successive blooms throughout the season with a mix of annual and perennial plants.  The following are some suggestions for bee favorites.

Plant Name                                      Bloom Time                           Garden Needs

Agastache foeniculum                        July-Sept                                   Average; full sun/partial shade

Allium tuberosum                              Late summer                             Average; full sun/partial shade

Angelica archangelica                         May                                            Biennial; shade/partial sun; moist

Borago officinalis                                 All summer                               Annual/biennial; sun…self seeder

Eupatorium purpureum                    late summer/early fall             Average; full sun

Foeniculum vulgare                            Mid to late summer                 Average; full sun

Galium odoratum                               Spring                                         Moist soil; full sun to full shade.

Hyssopus officinalis                            June to September                   Average; full sun

Matricaria chamomilla                       June to September                   Average; full sun to partial shade.

Lavendula spp.                                    June to August                          Average; full sun

Melissa officinalis                                June to August                          Average; full sun to partial shade

Mentha spp.                                        July to August                           Average; full sun to partial shade

Monarda fistulosa                              June to September                   Average; full sun

Nepeta cataria                                    June to September                   Average; full sun to partial shade

Origanum vulgare                             July                                             Average; full sun

Rosmarinus officinalis                       June to July                               Average; full sun

Salvia officinalis                                  June                                            Average; full sun

Symphytum officinalis                      May to June                               Average; full sun to partial shade

Tanacetum parthenium                    June to August                          Average; full sun

Thymus spp.                                      June to August                           Average; full sun

Don’t forget about the “weeds” around the place that bees love too, like dandelion, clover, and plantain. Dandelion flowers are one of the first blooms to appear each spring and are therefore a valuable food source for bees at a time when the larder is definitely lean.

It should go without saying that having prepared this feast for the pollinators it is NOT okay to then garnished it with chemicals.

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