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The power of healing plants

Many plants that can help us maintain our wellbeing are so easy to grow and we may already have them in our garden.

Lemon balm

“It’s very easy to grow – once you have it in the garden you’ll never get rid of it. It’s a herbaceous perennial which grows vigorously and has a hawthorn-like leaf. You harvest the leaf tips from May to mid-summer and make a tea out of it. Tip on boiling water, let it steep for three minutes and when it’s cool enough, drink it. It has a citrus zing to it which cleanses the palate and is uplifting. It’s also good for improving circulation.”

Rosemary and thyme

“Grow them hard, don’t overwater or overfeed. Don’t grow in a rich garden compost, grow them in a soil-based compost like John Innes No 2 which is less fertile and has a more mineral-rich structure to it. The plants will stay dwarfed but will be more concentrated in their components. Put them in the sun to intensify the oils. Rosemary and thyme can break down fats in the body, they serve as a remedy for bad fats. So if you’re eating fatty barbecued meats, take some sprigs, crumble them in your hands and throw them over the meat, not so they burn but so they are warmed.”

Black peppermint

“It’s the most potent form of mint. Grow it at the back of a herbaceous border and let it run forward. When it starts to invade other plants, rip it out and use the bits you’ve ripped out in salads or in tea, as a digestive promoter and to alleviate bloating. Alternatively make it into a compress, hold it on the skin and use it on sunburn. Keep it wet. Mint doesn’t like to dry out. It will also need feeding.”

Lavender

“Lavender is anti-bacterial, so it’s good to wash your hands in a tea made of lavender. It’s good for fungal infections, if you’ve hit your finger while gardening and you have bleeding under the fingernail, it will clean the skin and cuticles.”

Tansy (Tanacetum – a member of the Aster family)

“This produces tiny yellow flowers with ‘shaving brush’ heads. The leaves are an insect repellent. It will grow to 4-5ft and is very good if you’ve got pets because at this time of the year there are lots of tics and fleas about. Harvest the leaves and take a bunch and wipe them down the side of the cat or dog, just behind their ears. It’s a sun-loving perennial, so grow it in sun at the back of the herbaceous border, combined with aconitums, Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium) and eupatoriums which will shore up the tansy.”

Local garden centres:

Ashton Hall Garden Centre | Bay View Garden Centre | Carr Bank Garden Centre

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