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

  • Peppermint, Mentha piperita Peppermint is a hardy perennial that will grow just about anywhere. It has a voracious habit of spreading, so plan to plant it where it has lots of room! You may even want to grow it in its own bed to prevent it from crowding out your other herbs. Peppermint will grow from 12 to 24 inches. Drying is most effective for preserving the leaves. Harvest the stalks and leaves when they are young. The most popular uses of peppermint are as a culinary flavor ingredient but it has many medicinal uses. Among them were brewing a tea to be use for indigestion, relieving cramps, sore throats, and as a stimulant. Peppermint is a companion to cabbages.
  • Rosemary, Rosemarinus officinalisRosemary is a bushy, hardy perennial that is another of the multiuse “physician’s plants.” Rosemary prefers full sun and grows to a height of 3 feet if not trimmed. Harvest the small leaves on the stem when they are about 1 – 2 inches long. Rosemary is best dried for future use. Rosemary has a pungent aroma and is used as a flavorful culinary ingredient. Use Rosemary directly in salads, herbal blends, to season meat or infused in vinegars and oils. Rosemary teas have been used for improving memory, a mouthwash, hair rinse, and to reduce the pain of arthritis.
  • Rue, Ruta graveolensRue is an evergreen perennial with a bitter taste. Rue needs moderate to full sun and grows to a height of about 18 inches. Harvest its leaves before the seed head forms or it will be too bitter to use. Rue may be frozen or dried for future use. Its leaves are used fresh salads and food ornamentation. Rue has a long history as a strewing herb and a medicinal herb. Rue has been used as protection against contagious diseases, insect repellant, relief of sciatica and as a sedative.
  • Salad Burnet, Sanguisorba minorSalad Burnet is an evergreen perennial that will grow in moderate to full sun. Average height is 12 – 24 inches. Its leaves have a light cucumber flavor and are a nice addition to a salad. Leaves may be dried for future use. Salad Burnet was a staple in a Shakespearean garden. In addition to its use as a salad green, it was used as a flavoring for wine and cordials. The leaves were steeped in water to produce a tea sweetened with honey that was used to cure gout and rheumatism. A paste of honey and salad burnet was used as an astringent and to ease the pain of body sores.
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