Herb of 2008: Calendula

Herb of 2008: Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

However you refer to it:

  • Calendula
  • Mary’s Gold
  • pot marigold
  • poor man’s saffron

…intriguing legends and herbal history surround this plant.

Calendula offers beauty with flowers varying colors and shapes.

This herb also beautifully multi-tasks, offering many uses:

  1. as a lovely addition to tussie-mussies
  2. for exceptional color and flavor in cooking
  3. blending brightly into a handmade potpourri from the garden trims
  4. and use in medicine, through the ages

Part of the fun of knowing about the chosen “Herb of the Year,” is learning more about it herbal legend, lore and many uses.

Here is an online guide by the Herb Society of America, designed to provide an overview of the cultivation, chemistry, botany, history, folklore and uses of Calendula.

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Gardener’s Inspiration: Fall Table Décor

Pumpkin Flwr Cntrpc  Gardener’s Inspiration: Fall Table Décor and Displays

Table Décor Ideas for the Season We Just Love:

Serve dip or herbed spread in a small, hollowed out pumpkin, with crudités and whole wheat crackers, from a rustic serving tray.

Ladle your pumpkin soup from a clean, hollowed out larger pumpkin!

Feature a seasonal flower arrangement in a hollowed out pumpkin, or place setting-sized arrangements in hollowed out mini-pumpkins or gourds.

Gardener Inspiration: Centerpiece with Fall Flair

Fall Cntrpc Gardener’s Inspiration: Fall Flair with Natural & Found Items

This is a really quick Festive Fall Idea we enjoy:

Using your Preserved Fall Leaves, scatter them on a 36″ length of “fall”(color or design, hemmed or just folded under) fabric down the center of a table; arrange selected garden harvest-type items (ie – squash, pumpkins, etc.), accented with pretty spicy-scented votive candles.

Using an apple corer, hollow-out a candleholder space in some of the gourds, pumpkins or apples for votive candles. 

CAUTION: Be sure the item you use as an improvised candle holder is stable and placed in such a way that it will remain in its intended position, to avoid a fire hazard! 

Lemon Balm is Official Herb of 2007

Lemon Balm  Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.) is a lemon-scented member of the mint family. A native to southern Europe, it is a perennial that will over-winter in hardiness zones 4 to 5.  

As it grows, the lemon balm plant develops multiple branches, growing to a height of about two feet. Leaves are often 2 to 3 inches long, oval to almost heart shaped, shiny and wrinkled texture with scalloped edges. Small light blue to white flowers appear in late spring through midsummer.

 

Lemon balm has a delicate lemon scent and flavor. It is often used as a culinary, cosmetic and medicinal herb.

 

Fresh sprigs are used as garnishes for cold drinks and on salads and main dishes.

 

Fresh or dried leaves make a refreshing iced or hot tea.

 

Dried leaves are used as an ingredient in potpourri.

 

Lemon balm essential oil is used in aromatherapy and in creating perfumes.

 

 

And more Home Gardening Info

 

More Horticultural and Plant Use Info

  

Medicinal Uses for Lemon Balm

 

History, Cultivation and Medical Uses

 

My favorite lemon balm recipe and an herbal leaflet for you.

Making Potpourri from Your Garden – Final Part of VII

Potpourri        Displaying and Enjoying Your Decorative Potpourri

           

Best shown off in open containers, dry-method potpourris may be both an aromatic and a decorative touch to your surroundings. When properly blended, these fragrant mixtures retain delicate colors and scents of the plant materials used. As such an accessory, coordinate the container with the room, furnishings, and overall scheme. Suitable containers for displaying potpourri are virtually limitless, and many are already somewhere in your home!  Some ideas: baskets, bottles, bowls, jars, pottery, shells, vases.

Inspirations for creative displays: layer potpourri in varied bands in glass jars; place potpourri in a silk flower-filled vase; incorporate miniatures to create a theme or scene in a chosen container.      

Make small sachets with the potpourri blend: as lovely enclosures in gifts and cards, these make them more special; also tuck under furniture cushions. 

Spicy Potpourri: add dried apples and/or orange slices, or decorative (non-edible) gingerbread cutouts to your potpourri blend.

Herbal Wedding Ideas Part V

Rose Pnk   PRESERVED MEMORIES:

Wedding Wreaths, Bouquets, Tussie Mussies, Nosegays. Boutonnieres, Corsages,

Candles, Centerpieces, Arrangements,  Potpourri, Favors,

Ringbearer’s Pillow, Flower Girl’s Basket, anything carried by wedding party, Cake Toppers,

any decorations.

 

Even some of the larger pieces can be trimmed down, and parts preserved in a meaningful way. 

There are services around the country that specialize in preserving floral memories.

 

Perhaps you could try your hand at this, using silica gel, available at many craft and floral supplies stores.

 

Disassemble the bouquet (or floral item), and cut all stems down to 2 inches in length. Following the package instructions, bury each floral piece in the silica gel. When all pieces are well covered with the silica gel, seal the container. In about one week, they will be preserved, and upon removal from the silica gel, should be sprayed with either clear plastic or shellac for protection from humidity or even possibly shattering. Display out of direct sunlight, indoors.

 

 

However you choose to preserve your herbal-floral remembrances, it is critical that the preservation process be done as quickly as possible. Keep the flowers cool and dry, prior to beginning of this process.

 

When the preservation process is completed, florals may be reassembled as they were originally arranged (photos taken help), or create a meaningful design incorporating them, as another memory. 

Herbal Wedding Ideas Part IV

Rose Pnk    Helpful Hints and Tips for Planning an Herbal Wedding or Event: 

 

CHOOSE CERTIFIED ORGANIC FLOWERS AND HERBS:

 

For any potpourris, table decorations around foods, and food garnishes. Prime examples: rose petals, lavender, culinary herbs. Make sure the flowers you use as garnishes are edible. Fortunately, herbs may generally be easily grown without the use of chemicals, however it is worthwhile to check the “organic” licensure of your supplier before ordering.

 

 

SOURCES:

 

Purchase cut flowers in season from local farmer’s market, local florist, area garden clubs, grocery/health food stores, grown in your own garden, or growers who specialize in cutting, conditioning and shipping herbs.

Making Potpourri from Your Garden – Part VI of VII

Potpourri     Special Hints for Making Potpourri:

 

*Do NOT use any plastic bowls, jars, or utensils, as they absorb and retain odors.

*Do NOT use wooden spoons, as they absorb oils and fragrance.

*Do NOT use kitchen equipment to mix potpourri, returning it to kitchen afterward,.for safety.

*Use amber or dark glass jars for storing potpourri, while aging.

*Using two small bottles (up to about 4oz size), add high quality grain alcohol, using one to clean the eye droppers, to remove any traces of oil.

*If using essential oils (not fragrance oils), when the alcohol is changed in the small jars used for previously for cleaning, adjust alcohol with addition of desired essential oil, to make a cologne! .

 

CAUTION:  Orris root and orris root powder are commonly-used fixatives in potpourri formulas. Orris root, and the very finely powdered orris root may cause allergic reactions. Great caution in handling this material in blending, as well as the finished potpourri is recommended.

Making Potpourri from Your Garden – Part V of VII

Potpourri     Creating Potpourri Blends

 

A potpourri may also be created beginning with a base blend, a complete potpourri in its own right, with a predominating scent (ie, citrus, floral, herb, spice, woody, etc.). In this case, botanicals are added for color and texture, for eye appeal. The formula for this type of potpourri:

 

“Scented Base” + Fixative + Essential Oils/Fragrance Oils + Botanicals for Color/Fragrance = Finished Potpourri

 

 

           Blending Essentials

 

No special or expensive equipment is necessary to make potpourri, however it is recommended the supplies you use to mix and store be dedicated just to this process:

 

Glass or glazed ceramic bowls for mixing potpourri blends

Glass or stainless steel measuring cups

Stainless steel spoons, for mixing 

Glass jars with tight-fitting lids to store potpourri while aging (recommend non-reactive lids)

Eyedroppers, for adding essential oils to potpourri blends

Mortar and pestle, to crush or bruise seeds

Blender, grain mill, spice grinder or coffee-type mill (thoroughly cleaned, if ever previously used)

A small sharp knife for slicing

Stainless skewers, to pierce fruit for pomanders

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