All about our herbs

We were weeding our herb wall on New Street last Friday and decided to make a list of all the herbs and take photos of them so we know what we’ve got and you know what’s there too. Feel free to pick some as you’re passing but please leave some for others too. Here’s some photos and more information about the 15 herbs we currently have in the wall plus strawberries and rocket – and you can click here to find out how you can get involved with the group looking after this wall and other planting projects around Honiton. Please note some herbs are not suitable for people on certain medications, children or pregnant women – please check before using them if you’re not sure. 

 

Bergamot is one of the North American perennial plants from the mint family and is also known as bee balm and Indian’s plume. Grown and used by Native Americans as a popular tea for both its taste and medicinal properties, now the plant is cultivated in Europe after seeds were sent over in the 1700s by John Bartam.

The fragrant oil of the Bergamot is used to treat skin eruptions, rashes and infections. It can also be used for relief from fever, nausea, headaches and sore throat. Also, the pulverized leaves of the plant are used to treat bee stings.

 

Our Borage or starflower plant (pictured on the right) is quite simply magnificent! The last day we were there weeding, the vivid blue flowers were an irresistible magnet for several bumblebees and it was lovely to see. It is a self-seeding annual and deadheading will keep it in bloom – so if you’re walking past and see dead flowers, please pick them off to keep it flowering for longer.

Uses include as a summer drink, in cooking and as an oil.

 

Chives are the smallest and most delicate member of the onion family. They have long, thin green blades that are hollow inside. They have a mild, grassy flavour similar to baby spring onions or young leeks. Ours are flowering at the moment and the attractive mauve flowers are edible, make a pretty garnish, and are a favourite of bees and other pollinating insects.

Chives can be used in many recipes including potato salad and omelettes. The medicinal properties of chives are similar to those of garlic, but weaker.

 

Our Coriander (right) has really pretty white flowers at the moment so don’t look for the same thing you are used to buying in the supermarket! It’s planted in the biggest wall area near the junction to Jerrard Close.

Simply give the leaves a little rub and you will recognise the familiar smell. Since ancient times coriander has been enjoyed in many cultures for its culinary and medicinal values. Cooking uses are endless and when we can bear to chop down the flowers, we should get many more leaves to share!

Our Feverfew is also looking pretty this June with its daisy like yellow and white flowers. These plants have been known for centuries as a natural cure for migraines (but certain people including pregnant women should not take it). It belongs to all 4 of the main herb categories: aromatic, ornamental, culinary, and medicinal and like many of our herbs attracts bees, butterflies, and birds.

Feverfew has also been used as an effective insect repellent and even as a key ingredient in room fresheners.

Did you know Lavender is part of the mint family and has many uses? You can bake with it, drink it, use it as a insect repellent or use it in aromatherapy. Lavender Oil has been used for centuries for treating common ailments like preventing blistering on minor burns and curing athlete’s foot. It’s also good for helping you relax or sleep.

We have just one lavender plant at the moment in the small wall nearest the new Wetherspoons.

 

Lemon Balm is a common but underappreciated garden plant with a long history of medicinal use. It’s a member of the mint family and makes a very refreshing lemon balm tea.

Try making lemon balm wine or summer salad with the leaves. The crushed leaves, when rubbed on the skin, are used as a repellant for mosquitos. Lemon balm contains eugenol, which kills bacteria and has been shown to calm muscles and numb tissues

 

We’ve tried to keep most of our Mint plants in one section of the wall to stop them spreading so they can be found behind the left bus stop. Mint has antiseptic qualities and can be made into homemade mouthwashes. It can also aid digestion, clean wounds and is used in tonics and cough mixtures. It is a vermin deterrent – rats and mice dislike mint.

Make your own mint tea, real mint sauce or minted fresh green pea soup. Really the uses of mint are endless – here are more ideas!

 

Oregano is a pungent green herb with a great affinity for a variety of foods. Oregano is closely related to marjoram. It is characteristic of many Greek dishes and in the UK is often sprinkled liberally on pizzas.

Oreganos are particularly high in antioxidants, which doctors believe may explain the low incidence of heart disease in Greece, where the local variety rigani is used prolifically in cooking. Try making pesto, oregano brussel sprouts and cuban black bean and potato soup with fresh oregano picked from our community herb wall.

 

Our Curled Leaf Parsley has done well this year considering it is from the Mediterranean  and our summer has not been that hot! You can pick some to add to your soups and salads. It contains lots of vitamin C and vitamin A, iron, iodine, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals. Try making parsley soup or these parsley recipe ideas from HFW or these perky parsley recipes. 

Parsley also has medicinal uses as a diuretic, antioxidant and an antirheumatic.

 

 

There were already a couple of established Rosemary plants in one of the middle sections of wall (behind the bus stops) when we started on the garden in 2012. We’ve just tidied them up a bit and enjoyed their beautiful lilac flowers. Rosemary is used as a decorative plant in gardens and has many culinary and medical uses. It is a symbol of remembrance.

There are many recipes using rosemary like roasted rosemary potatoes, habanero, rosemary and cheddar bread and rosemary shortbread.

This is our little Sage plant, another member of the mint family.  It is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic, digestive and diuretic. Good for night sweats, hot flushes, digestive problems, oral health and memory loss. The ancient Greeks and Romans first used sage as a meat preservative as well as a memory enhancer. It was also used to stop wounds bleeding, to clean ulcers and sores and for sore throats. Try making sage and cheddar scones or 45 things to do with fresh sage!

Santolina or Cotton Lavender is a herb is a native of Southern France and the Northern Mediterranean area. The leaves have a chamomile like aroma, and the dried foliage is used to blend in herbal tobaccos, and both leaves and flowers are a favourite in pot pourri.

Dried cotton lavender leaves are a successful deterrent to moths and other insects. Put a few stems in your drawers or wardrobe. Santolina is also a great addition to herbal crafts.

 

 

Tarragon is also known as dragonwort and while there are some ancient traditional medicinal uses, its most common use is as a culinary herb. It’s more common in continental than in English cookery, and has long been cultivated in France for culinary purposes.

Tarragon is also a good herb to use in infused oils and there are many recipe ideas to try out too.

 

 

Thyme is one of the plants which was already in the wall when we took it over last year, it just needed weeding. It’s so pretty the way it creeps all over the edges and it is flowering at the moment. There are different types in our herb wall.
Fresh thyme has one of the highest antioxidant levels among herbs and is packed with minerals and vitamins, potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. Try making thyme tea or make your own fresh bouquet garni.
As well as 15 different types of herb we also planted strawberries and rocket in the spring (2013). We’d love you to add your own comments below if you’ve had time to look at the garden on the wall. What do you think? Have you had time to make something nice with the herbs you picked? Let us know what you’ve made. 

3 thoughts on “All about our herbs

  1. Thanks for linking to my Thyme Tea article. Once you start making fresh herbal teas you’ll always be on the lookout for a few edible ‘weeds’ to pluck on your walks. Enjoy!

  2. lovely idea, I know in Newcastle they did something similar where my sister lived, only with fruit and veg, when they were ready, they were free for people to pick and eat!

  3. Hi Lorraine – they do it in quite a lot of places now. We do need more people to be involved here in Honiton though – in order to keep our projects looking good, lots of weeding to do! Contact us if you can help.

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