Tuesday, June 22

Lavender & Chamomile

I am enjoying, for the first time in a good dozen years, having a bit of garden of my own. My gardens are usually herb gardens because other people in my family like vegetable gardening more, and because I am more interested in herbs and their histories and possible uses. Besides, less pesty creatures and weeds tend to get around in herb gardens than in vegetable gardens. My corner is full of herbs of different sorts, some of which I haven't had time to use yet and
some of which have not yet taken off like I wish they would (you can't have everything). For the present, though, the blooming lavender and chamomile are giving me enough to do on my weekends.

These are my four lavender plants (two English and two French). We just planted them in late summer of last year and they have been remarkably happy in their partially sunny spot. The Wagnerian mutant on the left of the photo is lemon balm.

I use a cheap dish tub to harvest the plant and to place below them on their drying rack so that whatever bits do fall off won't make a mess on my workspace. This is the same one I use to wash my yarn and set the twist in it. Usually there are two blooming seasons (or at least I think so) and this is the first one. This is the third weekend I've come out to pick lavender; because I have such a nice setup with a dehumidifier already in the room (one of the ones used for air than for food) and a nice, dark, cool place (basement is always cold) my handfuls of lavender tend to dry in about a week so I can just take the flowers off the dry stuff and hang the new stuff and call it a day. I spend maybe two very lazy hours playing with my garden per week. It is a nice break from housework.


The chamomile is quicker to do because there is less of it and the plant as a whole is more compact. This variety is called German chamomile, which is the milder version as opposed to Roman chamomile. Most American home gardens will probably have German chamomile. It smells like apples and makes a sweet, calming tea. You make it when people feel ill or unhappy or sad or angry or frustrated or crampy or colicky. It soothes but does not solve. More often than not it is what is wanted, anyway. I use the trays from an old food dehumidifier without the heating element for the chamomile, and am more careful since the oils are more delicate and they'll be more likely used as tea rather than in a pillow or sachet.

These are the cats, who call what they are doing "helping".

Then the lavender and chamomile both end up at my workspace in old McCann's Steel-Cut Oatmeal cans with ziploc bags inside them, until I want to use them in one of the various things they are good for. I like my desk, down here. It is where I keep my knitting needles.

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