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Growing a Shakespearean Herb Garden 
by Wendelynn Gunderson June 22, 2005

The Shakespearean Herbs

  • Bay, Laurus nobilisBay is a bushy perennial that has culinary and medicinal uses it is temperature sensitive, so grow this one in a big tub that you can bring indoors if you live in the colder climates. Bay needs full sun. Pick the leaves when they are from 1 ½ to 2 inches long. Dry them for long-term use. The leaves only are used in cooking. Bay leaves are a repellant for fleas, moths, ants and many other bugs. Traditionally, Bay leaf oil was mixed with honey to create an acne relieving cream. Other apothecary uses for Bay include treating urinary problems, flatulence, ear pain, bee and wasp stings.
  • Box, BuxusBox was widely used as a planting for bordering the Shakespearean era garden. We know it today as the evergreen Boxwood shrub. It is a dense bush with small leaves. Box is a perennial and grows best in full sun. Attains a height of about 2 ft. The leaves were used in Shakespeare’s time as a strewing herb, one that was scattered around a room to help with controlling odors.
  • Broom, Cytisus scopariusBroom, also known as Scotch Broom, is an evergreen perennial that grows best in full sun. It attains a height of 10 feet if it is not trimmed regularly. Box thrives in poor soil with little water. The leaves are best harvested just before blooming for their medicinal and aromatic uses. This is another of the strewing herbs. Broom oils have medicinal value as astringents.
  • Calendula, Calendula officinalisCalendula is often referred to as a marigold. It is an annual and prefers full sun. There are many varieties to choose from and heights range from 6 inches to 2 feet. Dry or freeze for future use. In the garden, it repels several common garden pests. Calendula has both medicinal and culinary uses. The flowers and leaves may added to salads and soups for a salty taste. Teas brewed from Calendula were used for reducing fevers. Ointments or poultices made from its leaves and flowers were used for removing warts, relieving pain of a bee sting, and to reduce the swelling of a sprained ankle.
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