Growing and consuming herbs and nutritive greens and berries is one of my greatest joys in life. There are a lot of herbs and berries that LOVE growing here in Colorado, and here are just a few:
One of my favorite, magical, must-have-in-my-garden herbs is Lemon Verbena. It’s not a showy herb, although I do love the wispy flowers it sends up. I grow it for the heavenly, mind-altering, divine fragrance and flavor of the foliage. Even the stems are incredibly fragrant. And the flavor is lemony and delectable, especially when infused with black tea and purple rose petals. So delicious!! My plants are growing with great abandon this year, so thankfully I should have plenty for tea and pillow-stuffing.
Lemon Verbena has an affinity for the mouth and throat, so it makes an amazing tea for a sore throat or dry scratchy cough. I have, on occasion, combined it with chamomile and plantain, steeped for 30 minutes and served with honey and coconut milk. Heavenly!
And where would I be without Chamomile?
Chamomile infused honey is divine! Also great for topical application if you can resist eating it. Makes a great canine calming remedy, too.
This strawberry plant is super productive and vigorous! It’s a Dutch hybrid that I got from Annie’s Annuals and Perennials. The strawberries are large and delicious! It’s taking off and sending out runners in all directions. I have two of the runners rooting into pots so that I can locate more plants in other areas of the garden where they can really spread out. I see some strawberry sherbet in my future!
So darn delicious!!!
I also acquired a beautiful little Alpine Strawberry from Annie’s. The fruits are small, and the flavor is quite concentrated. I collect a small handful of these every day. Usually I share with my husband. Sometimes I eat them all at once. And sometimes the dogs get a taste! Charming little fruits!
Smell, yet concentrated flavor and nutrition in these Alpine strawberries.
Here we have a gathering of nutritive and medicinal herbs: Violet, Plantain, Rosemary, Echinacea, Cannabis, Thyme, Stella Plantain and Lemon Balm are pictured here. We often chop these herbs into a salad. Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Echinacea and Thyme are often infused into a medicinal honey – sometimes all together. Always good to have on hand! And delicious! Great on pancakes!
One of my favorite herbs is Yerba Mansa (below). It’s actually quite easy to grow here in Colorado when watered well in it’s first year. It spreads by sending out long runners. This is a very powerful antibiotic herb that can be used in place of the endangered Goldenseal. Harvest a few clumps when the plant is in bloom, and tincture all parts, including the root.
Yerba mansa leaves and root.
A beautiful herb for respiratory imbalances is Elecampane, or Inula helenium. I grew this in Longmont, where it reached 3′ in height and bloomed for several months during late summer. Little did I know what would happen in my Berthoud garden…
Here it is in Berthoud (below) reaching six feet into the sky! Who knew??
The Elecampane root is the most commonly used part of the plant – very aromatic. The root can be dried and powdered, tinctured, or infused into honey. Another generous and valuable garden beauty! Give it room!
And then there is Verbena hastata…A beautiful and charming medicinal plant – classified as a neurotrophorestorative – it helps restore and tone the nervous system. Tincture the flowers and upper leaves to create a strong medicinal tonifying formula. These can also be dried and infused as a tea. Both tincture and tea are quite bitter. Combine with California Poppy, Skullcap and other nervine herbs for a wider-reaching formula to calm and support the nervous system.
The beautiful color, shape and tiny perfection of the Verbena hastata florescences is breathtaking. The entire plant has a calming energy, don’t you think?
Sunset Hyssop (Agastache rupestris) is a very fragrant plant with edible flowers that can be added to salads or even used to decorate cakes. An infused honey made with these delightful flowers is tasty and medicinal, good for sore throats and digestive imbalances.
The whole plant is fragrant, smelling something like root beer. Charming!!!
Rosa rugosa “Purple Pavement” from High Country Roses is just getting started. Classified as a zone 3 rose, it grows to 3′ x 3′, repeat blooms, is very fragrant, and produces large red hips in the late summer/fall. Once you have tasted rose hips, it becomes a priority to grow roses that fruit!
The bees LOVE rugosa roses!
Rugosa roses do not like chemical fertilizers, such as Miracle Grow. Use Age Old Grow Organic plant food! It’s amazing stuff. And of course, glacial rock dust and mycorrhizal inoculant.
The lavender spikes below are the flowers of Wood Betony (Stachys betonica), an herb that was highly prized during the Middle Ages. Considered a magical herb, it was used in protective spells as well as in herbal formulations to treat everything from toothache to “the bites of mad dogs”. Some herbalists recommend harvesting the leaves before the plant blooms, others harvest during the bloom cycle. I have dried the leaves and used them as a substitute for black tea. Quite tasty!
Wood Betony enjoys growing in my Colorado garden.
Bee Balm is another medicinal plant that is also quite pretty and floriferous.
Preparing flowers for an infused honey…. love the color and fragrance.
Echinacea, Valerian Flowers, Lemon Balm, Mallow, Oregano, Prunella, Bee Balm, Chamomile and a California Poppy…gathered to make a medicinal elixir with honey and brandy. We use this elixir as a preventative during cold and flu season, taking 1-2 droppers per day. In the case of cold, sore throat or flu, we up the dosage to 4 droppers throughout the day along with adding lots of fresh garlic to our food!
Coming next year: currants and other fruiting shrubs, plantings of Blue Mist Spirea for the bees, and Russian Sage and Red Yucca because we’re in Colorado and they like it here!
Blessings to you and your gardens,