Tread upon my Chamomile


Though the chamomile, the more it is trodden upon, the faster it grows; yet youth, the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears.’ Shakespeare, King Henry IV part 1

The romance of a large chamomile lawn releasing its fresh, green apple fragrance as it is walked on, is  part of my fantasy herb garden…then I think about all the upkeep keeping the weeds out of it and the wreck it would become as my dogs rip through it,  there it stays in the fantasy garden.    (Don’t we all have our garden bucket list?)

In reality, I planted chamomile in the stairs that lead to my upper garden. It has become more than just fragrant steps, it is gardening therapy. A few times a month in its growing season, I get out my sheep shears and have a bit of aromatherapy as I tidy up the steps. The fragrance is heavy in the air as it is snipped back down to a few inches. This is a garden chore where gloves simply won’t do, I love the scent and oily feel of the essential oil as it lingers on my hands.  It is said that chamomile grows faster the more it is stepped on, it also looks nicer when regularly trimmed like lawn grass. I do like the steps a bit shaggy  but the plants  really fill in much thicker when I keep it clipped.

More about this multipurpose herb

Botanical Name:

Chamaemelum nobile

Common Name: chamomile, ground apple

Culture: Zone 4.  Herbaceous perennial.  Full sun to part shade. Grows up to 12 inches tall and spreads by creeping rhizomes.  Best in well draining soil.

The plants will fill in better with regular watering and shearing.

Ornamental Value:

Chamomile has fern-like leaf shapes and small white daisy flowers. The most prized use in the landscape is as a substitute for lawn grasses. It spreads easily and fills in tightly when trimmed or lightly mowed on a regular basis. C. nobile ‘Treneague’ is a non-flowering variety best for use as green pathways and lawns.  The ornamental value of chamomile has been treasured for centuries as a verdant living carpet or garden bench that releases a tart green apple aroma when crushed.   Plant the double showy flowers of C. nobile ‘Flore Pleno’ as a groundcover under rose bushes. Chamomile is said to have a symbiotic relationship to promote healthy roses. Strong infusions of chamomile flowers and leaves used as compost tea are said to activate compost piles.

Traditional or historical herb use:

The botanical name is derived from Greek meaning “apples on the ground” describing its fragrance when walked upon. The precious oil extracted from the flowers is a bluish color, once distilled it contains azulene, an aromatic fatty substance that promotes rapid healing of skin. Its reputation has become very popular in modern-day for anti-aging and wrinkle treatments. Tea taken before bedtime will promote sleep and dispel nightmares.

(excerpt from- Herbs By Design, a guide to landscaping with herbs- coming soon)

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