Gunston Hall Plantation in Virginia has a sampler herb garden without the lovely strolling paths found in Colonial Williamsburg. We grow the herbs that graced the 18th Century kitchen garden that once included a large variety of vegetables and flowers. The garden  reveals some of  the herbs used in cooking, medicine and in household tasks. The garden is composed of  two rectangular plots.

 In early spring the garden had just begun.

In early spring the garden had just begun.

 Spring garden

Spring garden

 Spring garden waiting for the hops to grow

Spring garden waiting for the hops to grow

Hops side of garden

Hops are growing up, around and down three sturdy poles.Down below horseradish is growing. In April the horseradish grew beautiful tiny white flowers that tasted a bit like horseradish, but milder. The flowers are gone, and now we're waiting for the hops to bloom. The red fence in the background leads to the kitchen yard.

Southernwood

Southernwood grows on the other side of the hops. People say it smells similar to cedar. It's easy to understand that it was used to keep pests away from the woolen clothes and from crops stored in the attic.

Rue presides on the opposite rectangular bed from the hops. The smell is quite intense and was used to fumigate areas. One caution about rue is to not touch the plant in the sunlight, especially when blooming. It can give you a nasty rash, and you will "rue" the day you did not heed the warning.

Mint side of garden

Mint heads the other end of the rectangular bed, opposite from rue. It begs to be picked, a small bouquet is better then one leaf, so that the plant spreads out instead of getting leggy. Since the picture the deer heard my invitation, and chomped down more then a few bouquets.

The Herbs Growing in the Garden

 Asparagus ( Asparagus officinalis)    

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

 

 Asparagus plant after the harvest

Asparagus plant after the harvest

(Salty herb, “Middle nature, neither warming or cooling” culinary and medicinal) [Sauer, 2001] Most prized spring vegetable of many Virginians.  Jefferson grew it in a special way, “littered (mulched) the plants with tobacco leaves and dressed (fertilized) with manure.” Medicinally asparagus was made into distilled water to help with “gravel stones” (kidney stones) and lumbago. [Hatch, 2012]

  Bay Laurel   (Laurus nobilis)

Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

(Pungent, warming and drying) Cultivated in Britain since 16th century. Wreaths or crowns were made of bay to bestow honor on heroes and poets. The modern word baccalaureate may come from this practice. Medicinally bay used to be given to people who had taken too many opiate medicines. [Grieves, 1971] Bay was used in cooking to flavor food.  Beef was made to taste like “Red Deare” where bay leaves were placed under and above the cooked beef. [Hess, 1981]

 Bee Balm ( Monarda didyma)  is  just ready to open up its red flowers. The leaf is not so strong tasting, and the deer seem to like to snack on the flowers.

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) is  just ready to open up its red flowers. The leaf is not so strong tasting, and the deer seem to like to snack on the flowers.

 Bee Balm comes in many colors and flavors.  Monarda fistulas  has the strongest flavor if you were to take a bite of the leaf, and the flowers are lavender.

Bee Balm comes in many colors and flavors. Monarda fistulas has the strongest flavor if you were to take a bite of the leaf, and the flowers are lavender.

(Pungent, warming & drying) “Also called Bergamot or Oswego tea, the citrus flavored leaves were used by the Oswego Indians as a tea. After the colonists refused to import British tea, they used Oswego tea as a substitute.” [Mary Ober] Medicinally Bee Balm helps keeps airways open when there is a cold or cough. [Kress, 2013]

 Catnip in the spring

Catnip in the spring

 Catnip in flower with the bees

Catnip in flower with the bees

(Pungent, warming and drying) Catnip was and is still used for fevers, colds and restlessness for both adults and children. It was considered the colic herb for centuries and is still used today. [Kress, 2013]

 Chamomile ( Chamaemelum nobile)

Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

(Bitter/pungent taste, warm and dry in nature) A tea brewed from dried flowers was used to calm nerves and to soothe upset stomach. Sauer’s herbal states, “…staying all manner of pains, for emolliating (moistening), for healing, for opening, and for dispelling windiness and vapors."
"For quartan ague, take one quart of good wine and put it in a new earthenware vessel that can be well sealed. Stand this for one hour over  glowing coals, then add half a handful of chamomile flowers. Seal it tightly, but do not let it boil." [Sauer, 2001, p. 91]

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

(Pungent, warming & drying)”The mucilaginous juices drawn out of the seeds when soaked in rosewater, then mixed with the water of fennel, will take away inflammation, redness, and pains in the eyes.” Clary Sage was also put in wine to flavor the wine and give warmth to an irritable stomach and cold head.  [Sauer, 2001, p. 105]

 Comfrey ( Symphytum officinale)

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

(Salty (mineral rich), cooling and moistening) Used as a wound herb externally and internally. “Surgeons ought to hold comfrey in high regard, because it is quite useful in treating all sorts of wounds, ruptures, and injuries.” Also known as “Knit Bone,” because it also healed broken bones. [Sauer, 2001, p. 115]

  Elderberry Bush (  Sambucus nigra)  at the Pioneer Farm at Mount Vernon

Elderberry Bush (Sambucus nigra) at the Pioneer Farm at Mount Vernon

(Sour (flowers), bitter (berries), cooling and drying) The flowers made into a tea encourages the body to sweat during a fever. The berries made an excellent wine and prevented colds and flu. [Sauer, 2001, p. 130]

 Elecampane (( Inula helenium )

Elecampane ((Inula helenium)

(Bitter/pungent,warm & dry in nature) "It possesses numerous balsamic components from which it draws its capacity to open, to dissolve, to ease difficult breathing, to stop coughing, to withstand poison, and to strengthen the stomach. A fine electuary (herbal medicine mixed with honey), using, one half pound of honey that is brought up to a boil and then scummed well.  This is good for coughs and asthma.” [Sauer, 2001, p 133]

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), beginning to produce its sweet seeds

(Pungent, warming, drying gently, strengthening the stomach) The distilled water is good for the inflammation of the eyes. Fennel leaves were pounded in a mortar with twice its weight