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Herbal plants offered today are varied ...

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Jennifer Moore
You need this in your perennial border.

The plants offered to gardeners or non-gardeners at nurseries, garden centers and the corner store vary immensely.  They may be culinary herbs suitable for all sorts of savory dishes, or valued for their blooms or can be used medicinally.

In this article, we look at all three distinctions in all the plants listed.    As the plants are used for these different applications, this makes them  even more invaluable.  But, with all plants, be sure to look into their characteristics and properties before using them unwisely.

Calendula - Also known as Pot Marigold, this plant will bloom a firey orange and yellow for many months.  Not looking at all like a traditional marigold, but instead it has soft green leaves and a double-petalled, daisy-like bloom. It is an annual but it self-seeds so readily that one never needs to purchase any plants once it is in the garden.  It prefers a sunny location, grows up to 2 1/2 feet tall and is not particular about its soil needs.  It has many uses; the flower petals can be used in breads, potpourri and various creams and it also lasts as a cut flower arrangement.

Bee Balm - Also known as Monarda, this plant blooms in late summer in shades of pink, lavender and red.  Its leaves are dark green, rough and serrated with square stems holding up spidery pompom blooms.  It is a hardy perennial that spreads well, using underground runners placed just under the soil. It too, prefers a sunny location, grows up to 3 1/2 feet tall and is not fussy about what soil it grows in.  It does however, need a good air circulation to prevent it from mildewing and loosing its lower leaves.  It has many uses; leaves in green teas and potpourri, flower petals are edible for salads, tonics for fever, headache, and stomach aches, and wonderful blossoms for arrangements.

Feverfew  - A great plant with tiny white petalled flowers resembling chrysanthemums.  Being a member of the mum family, it is bitter tasting when eaten, yet powerful to take fever and headache away.  A perennial that self-seeds so well it is almost weed-like, but the seedlings are very easy to remove.  It prefers a part-sun to full-sun location, grows up to 3 feet tall and likes a humus-rich soil.  It will tolerate a poor soil but plants will be stunted.  It is long-lasting in cut flower arrangements, blossoms dry well for potpourris and it is wonderful to use as a remedy for headaches.

The following are simple recipes and tips to use for each of these very versatile garden plants:

Calendula Hair Rinse
Easy to make and best when used on blonde hair, bringing out magnificent highlights.
A handful of Calendula petals
1 1/4 cups water
2 tsp malt or cider vinegar
Place the petals into a large jar. Boil the water and  pour it over the petals.  Stir in the vinegar which helps its keeping qualities.  Let cool and use once cooled.  This infusion can be kept in the fridge for a short amount of time for further applications if made in large quantities.

Mosquito Repellant
It is said that rubbing freshly picked beebalm leaves on clothing will deter mosquitos.  If rubbed on the skin, some people may experience a mild rash.

Feverfew Headache Remedy
I know several people that use this plant and swear it relieves them of the pain.
Remove 2 - 3 leaves from the plant.  Place 1/2 teaspoon of white sugar into your mouth with the feverfew leaves and swallow.  The sugar will stop the bitterness.  Another alternative to the sugar is chewing fresh mint leaves with the feverfew leaves.

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