Tag Archives: herbs

The Summer of Salvia

Get to know Salvia!
Salvia is a genus of plants related to the mint family (Lamiaceae). This huge plant family can be confusing because some of the relatives simply don’t look (or act)  like the others. Salvia varieties can be found as perennials, biennials and annuals. The heat of summer brings most Salvia’s into prime beauty in the garden and now is the time to get to know more about them.

This is sage
Most think of sage (Salvia) as the common herb that flavors turkey dressing for Thanksgiving dinner. As you discover this large family of plants, you will notice that there is much diversity. Culinary, medicinal, cosmetic, aromatic and useful in landscape design. Not all are edible, some are intensely fragrant, one is mind-altering when smoked, and some are just simply floriferous and nothing more.

Get to know some of the Salvia family:
Salvia officinalis: Commonly called garden sage; these are the ones you cook with and have the most desired qualities for skin care and remedies. They are shrubby, woody perennials that are hardy, drought tolerant and deer resistant.

salviatricolro

Lovely texture and color of Tricolor Sage

The leaf color and texture of golden sage (S. officinalis ‘Aurea’), purple sage (S. officinalis ‘Purpurea’) and Berggarten sage (S. officinalis ‘Berggarten’) also make them an attractive addition to a herb garden and landscape.

Sage is the herb of wisdom. Ancient herbalists praised it for improving brain function, and for memory and dementia. The Romans had a saying, “Cur morietur homo, cui salvia crescuit in horto?” (How can a man die who has sage growing in his garden?)  Historical usage has even made sage a synonym for the word “wise”.

The leaves are used fresh and dried. They impart a rich, earthy fragrance when the essential oils release from the plant. Highly astringent a topical wash for cleaning up oily, dirty skin. Sage is a strong disinfectant that when infused into water are a good addition to spray mists with lavender and mints. A hair rinse made with sage water or a leaf poultice will darken hair color and make hair smooth and shiny.


IMG_0101c manly herbal

Wisdom Toner and Aftershave
For this toner and aftershave, combine common garden sage with English lavender buds and allow to steep in natural witch hazel.
The witch hazel lends its cleansing and pore tightening properties to the skin renewing herbal mix. The recipe can be found on page 125 of the Herb Lover’s Spa book!


Red Sage: (Salvia miltiorrhiza) is one of the most reputable medicinally used sages. The root is used as an important tonic herb in Chinese medicine (Dan Shen). The roots are valued as a blood purifier and nerve calmative.

Sacred Sage (Salvia apiana) : A beautiful silvery, narrow-leaved sage that has a long history of use as food and medicine for native American tribes along the Pacific coast. Prized for use in smudge sticks for purification and religious ceremonies.

IMG_9578 pineapple sage

Pineapple Sage

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) A annual in most climates this large sage is most noted for its brilliant red flowers that are a hummingbird magnet in the late summer. The golden variety (Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’) will add striking foliage texture to the garden. The leaves have a fresh pineapple fragrance and can be used as a garnish or salads. Use the leaves in tea (the leaves lose their flavor when subjected to high heat, so they are best for sun tea mixes)

Salvia divinorum: I got to know more about this sage when kids in high school asked my daughter if her mom, the plant nerd, could hook them up with some Salvia. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/salvia.   Have you seen the “Gardening on Salvia” video? (Warning if you google the YouTube version, it has been hacked up with some nasty comments, the link is a cleaner version) The “Driving on Salvia” makes me LOL when the cat jumps on the windshield…but I digress.

Perennial and other floriferous Salvias
These are cultivars for long blooming color in the garden.
Popular Purples:
Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’
Salvia nemorosa ‘East Friesland’
Salvia x sylvestris ‘May Night’
Autumn sages (Salvia greggii):

IMG_2502salvia mash up

Purple Salvia mixed with Leonotis leonurus

Tender perennials typically only hardy to USDA Zone 7. These will bloom early summer to late fall. Look for the varieties ‘Lipstick’, ‘Furman’s Red’ and Desert Blaze Texas sage (Salvia greggii ‘Variegata’)
Other cool cultivars:
Hot Lips (Salvia microphylla)
Black and Blue (Salvia guaranitica)
There are many more! Explore more here: https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/perennial-salvia-plants
http://www.fbts.com/everything-salvias/

Annuals
Salvia ‘Amistad’: deep purple flowers that are almost black in the bud stage.
Salvia ‘Blue Victoria’, ‘Dwarf Purple’ and ‘Dwarf Red’ are common annuals used for long-standing color in container gardens and annual bedding.

 

 


Seasonings from the Garden

No68AIMG_0663cPerk up salads, make your own meat rubs and sweeten up your Iced tea with herbs from your garden. These recipes from my seminar at the 2017 Northwest Flower & Garden Show are perfect to make now while there is an abundance of herbs in the garden to harvest and preserve.

seasonings gardenHerbed Lime Rub
This is one of my favorites. I love a kick of lemon and lime on many things and this has just enough zip to it that it can be used as an all-purpose sprinkle on salads. Use as a dry rub to flavor meat as you are prepping them for the grill. Just the right zest for chicken and salmon.
1/3 cup Sea salt (coarse, grind)
1 teaspoon lime zest (add more to taste)
1 teaspoon dried Garlic granules
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian flat leaf parsley
Mix all ingredients well. Keep the blend chunky for meat rubs. You can grind this blend down (in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle) to a finer mix for use as a seasoning salt.

Rosemary Smoked Salt
Aromatic salts make this the perfect mix for beef and heavy sauces using tomatoes. Nice strong herbal mix for use to season meats while grilling.
1 cup coarse smoked salt
1/4 cup dried rosemary leaves (whole)
1 tablespoon dried garlic granules
Mix all ingredients together. Crushed the mix slightly with a mortar and pestle to release the essence of the rosemary and garlic into the mix. Store in a glass spice shaker.

Lavender sel et poivre (salt and pepper)
An elegant salad seasoning. This lighter tasting mix can be used on chicken and pork to season.
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
3 tablespoons coarse French grey sea salt
Ground peppercorns to taste (approximately a 1/2 teaspoon).
Mix all ingredients together. Grind down if you want the mix to be finer and able to sprinkle through a shaker top. Store in a glass spice shaker.

For your Sweet Tooth

Rose-Lavender-Lemon Sugar
Perfect for iced tea to add sweetness and flavor. Use in baking and to dust the tops of warm sugar cookies fresh from the oven.
1/2 cup coarse raw sugar
2 tablespoons dried rose petals
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
1 tablespoon lemon powder
Grind all ingredients in a coffee bean grinder to mix well and create a fine textured blend. Store in a glass jar.

Mint Sugar
Use to sweeten tea or rim a cocktail glass
Mint sugar: Ratio: ground 1/3 dried mint leaves, 2/3 coarse grind sugar. Blend ingredients together in a coffee bean grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Store in a glass jar.

herb seasoning bundle editCreate your own Signature Blends
Store these dried herb mixes in tiny tins and label. Easy savory seasonings from the garden, perfectly gift-able too!

Tie small bundles of herbs together and allow them to dry. Once they are dry strip the leaves from the stems, mix in something that tingles the taste buds like salt, pepper or a citrus zest. Slightly crush together so that the essential oils from the herbs blend together in the mix.
Package the mix in small metal tins and label.

For chicken: Herbs-Lemon thyme and French tarragon. Add dried lime peel.
Pork: Sage, rosemary and French thyme. Add cracked black pepper
Beef: Oregano and Basil. Add dried garlic granules.
Seafood: Dried bronze fennel and lemon verbena. Add dried lemon peel.

Resource for bulk smoked and sea salts, peppercorns, garlic granules and jars www.mountainroseherbs.com 

Tins, bottles and packaging www.specialtybottle.com

 

 

 

 


Falling…

The season of two faces. The last gasp of summer heat, but a cooler feel in the night air.  Nature signals the changing seasons as colors flame and flowers fade.

As we cast our summer gardens aside, join me on my other blog Herb Lover’s Spa for ideas, inspiration and recipes for herbal harvests and how to use them.

webfallpumpkins


In Love with Lavender

a drift of color greets guests to the front door as it spills along a walkway.

Every season about this time, I feature an article in my newspaper column on growing lavender. The subject and fascination with this plant makes it one of my most requested herb talks. There is a romantic allure to the purple haze of blossoms in the garden this time of year. The festivals begin in mid-July and fragrance fills the air on a hot summer day as the essential oils are released.  The charm is not only about growing it in the garden.  The legend, lore and history of lavender can be just as enchanting as growing it.

I once heard it termed as the Swiss army knife of herbs and that is an apt description. It does just about everything a herb should do. The use of lavender buds and essential oil  dates back thousands of years.  It has recorded uses for over 2500 years, from medicine to cooking; it has stood the test of time. Many herbs go in and out of favor as their attributes are found to either not work or to be too powerful to be safe.  Lavender has never gone out of favor and is as popular as ever.  The essential oils are in all parts of lavender from roots to leaves, but the flowers are the only part that oil is distilled from. The aromatic oil of lavender has powerful natural ingredients that are prized in perfume but also for medicinal qualities.  The principal components of the oils depend on where it is grown but include properties that are antibiotic, antiseptic, skin renewing and healing, calmative, pain relief, insect repellant and nerve tonic. Culpepper’s historical herbal gives testament to many “interesting” healing properties including sluggish maladies, strengthening of the stomach, a gargle against toothache and to reduce the trembling and passions of the heart.

The name lavender is derived from the Latin lavare which means “to wash”.  It was used extensively in history by Romans as perfume for the bath. In areas of Europe and the middle east where it was native and plentiful is was used as a strewing herb; harvested stems were strewn across the floors of home and churches to cleanse and repel flies and mosquitoes.

English lavender and its cultivars are the most common grown in our gardens and of note; English lavender did not originate in England but was a plant introduction as it spread its way into France, Italy and Spain.  The first notation of lavender cultivated in England was in 1568, and has since become synonymous with English gardens. An air of Victorian melodrama comes with lavender lore as it was used as an aromatic spirit to prevent fainting spells and swooning.

Capture the use of lavender and its legendary attributes:

(Use caution on sensitive skin and test for allergies first!)

  On your next camping trip take a bottle of lavender essential oil: Dab it on bug bites for itch relief, dab on minor burns for fast healing and soothe a headache with one drop of oil on each temple and gently massage for 15 minutes.

 Mist sunburned skin with a cooling lavender water mist: To make a mist, simmer ½ cup of fresh lavender buds in 4 ounces of purified water for at least 15 minutes. (Do not boil, just simmer). Allow to cool, add 10 drops of lavender essential oil (found in health food stores). Place in a glass bottle with mister spray top. Shake well before use and mist on sunburned or itchy skin.

Fill a fabric sachet with dried lavender buds and place the car as an air freshener. The added aromatherapy properties have a calming effect for tense times in rush hour traffic.

 

(Recipes from the second in the series of Creative Garden Guides- “In Love with Lavender” by Susan Goetz

Booklets may be purchased by post or online. For more information www.thecreativegardener.com


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