By Angela England
This article is from the Spring 2013 issue of Body Sense magazine.
Herbs and plants are known to enhance mood, improve health, and provide a valuable connection with nature. Here are some of my favorite herbs or plants to grow; they are either valuable for their health benefits, easy to grow, or both, and can be used in teas and added to your favorite recipes. Hopefully you'll see a familiar friend on this list, or be intrigued by a new potential favorite.
A familiar, popular, and fragrant herb with scented leaves and flowers, lavender is known to relieve anxiety.
Hint: Lavender needs good drainage to grow well, so it performs well in container plantings.
In addition to its invigorating, citrus scent, lemon balm has proven antianxiety effects. Lemon balm is easy to grow and has tiny, attractive flowers as well.
Hint: Lemon balm tolerates lots of pruning, so don't be afraid to harvest and use it regularly. Just give it a little extra mulch and compost so it can continue growing lovely, fragrant leaves for you.
While typically thought of as a culinary herb, marjoram also has therapeutic benefits for pain relief and easing tension that often triggers tension headaches. In the garden, marjoram is a prolific herb that takes frequent pruning and harvesting.
Hint: Marjoram prefers quick drainage, so grow it in a raised bed or container garden, or mix the soil with a portion of sand.
This shrubby herb is one of my favorites and has a sharp fragrance that stimulates, invigorates, and aids in concentration. Rosemary is also popular as a hair or scalp treatment.
Hint: Never harvest more than half to two-thirds of the shrub in any given year if you want it to survive until the following year.
Thyme has a warming, restorative scent and can be used for disinfecting. It's also known to help lift the spirits of those struggling with moodiness. The herb is an easy-to-grow perennial in many climates.
Hint: Use thyme under and around other larger perennials in the garden landscape, as it makes an excellent ground cover.
Angela England lives with her husband and five children in rural Oklahoma. Author of Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (ALPHA, 2012) and founder of www.untrainedhousewife.com, she stays busy empowering others to live more intentionally. Find out more about her writing at www.angengland.com.
Create a Lavender Wand
Create these beautiful bundles to freshen up fabric, aid in relaxation, or give a child a magical new fairy wand.
Take an uneven number of lavender stems, leave the flowers at the top intact, and clean off any little leaves or buds along the bottom half of the stem. Work quickly, before they become dry and brittle.
Holding the stems with the flower heads even with each other, tie a long, narrow ribbon around the base of the flowers. Tie this tightly, so that it doesn't come loose or undone.
Taking two stems, fold them down over the knot and wrap the long end of your ribbon around them. Bend two more stems down, this time on top of the ribbon. Fold the next two down and wrap the ribbon on top of them. Keep folding the stems and weaving the ribbon over, under, over, under--until you have folded them all down. (The last fold will be three stems, but it will mark your place and work itself out in a minute.)
Work on the next row, alternating the stems--if you went over on a pair, go under. If you went under, go over. This will create a pretty pattern, as well as secure them tightly.
Circle around for a few rows, then switch to bending single stems. Keep the ribbon as close to the row above as possible, and the flowers inside. By pulling the ribbon progressively looser toward the middle and tighter as you get to the end of the stems, you will create an oval shape.
Toward the end, switch back to weaving pairs instead of single stems. When the flowers are gone and you are back to stems only, tightly wrap the ribbon around a few times, then tie it off. The tail can now be cut and the knot pushed inside the stem.
And there you have it! Your lavender wand will dry this way, and you will have fresh-smelling lavender for years to come.