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

  • Lavender, Lavandula veraLavender is a shrubby perennial that will grow happily in poor soil as long as it has full sun. If not trimmed, Lavender will grow 3 – 4 feet tall. The leaves and flowers of lavender are used as aromatic strewing herbs, as culinary additions and medicinally. Lavender does not respond well to freezing, dry it for future use. If you are going to preserve the flowers, they must be harvested before they are fully open. They loose their aromatic properties quickly upon opening. The leaves and flowers are used to flavor oils and vinegars, used in salads and brewed into a tea. The tea has traditionally been used for calming coughs, soothing sore joints and toothaches and as an antiseptic. The scent of lavender is thought to repel mosquitoes, flies and moths. Lavender is best known today for its calming, soothing aroma.
  • Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalisLemon Balm is a perennial that averages 3 to 4 feet high if left untrimmed. It may be dried or frozen for future use. Harvest the leaves when they are 1 – 3 inches long. Its light lemony minty aroma and flavor made it a favored strewing herb in Shakespeare’s times. Use the leaves in teas, salads and for flavoring wines and vinegars. Medicinally, Lemon Balm’s uses included reducing fevers, curing gout, cleansing dog bites, repelling scorpions, to encourage longevity and to increase a nursing mother’s milk flow.
  • Parsley, Petroselimum crispumParsley is an annual that grows to approximately 12 inches in full sun. It may be dried or frozen for future use. The leaves should be harvested while they are still young to prevent bitterness. Parsley is used in salads and as a garnish. Chewing Parsley is thought to cleanse the breath. Tea made from parsley has been used as a diuretic, to ease the pain of arthritis, and as a stimulant.
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