Herbs at Hunny-Bunny Farm
Well this week at Hunny-Bunny Farm I will be concentrating on cleaning, planting, and generally organizing my herb garden, (formerly known as the rabbit garden). Here at Hunny-Bunny herbs have long been part of the garden but never in an organized way. Indeed, even way back in the late 1970’s when we were still living in Bergen County, NJ; we took classes presented by an ancient Quaker couple who taught about the uses of herbs in the Western Herbal tradition. Back then, in the 70’s, these devoted Quakers were ahead of their time as herbs had not quite become the fad that reached its heights in the 1980’s and 1990’s. We now have growing throughout our gardens and borders, in almost a feral condition, many herbs previously grown in their original garden beds but now found readily in the most unexpected areas.
Over the 30+ years that we’ve gardened with herbs we have collected many, many books on herbs, both culinary and medicinal. In our herbal studies we deliberately limited our endeavors to Western medicinal herbals rather than Chinese or ayurvedic (Hindi) herbs. These Eastern medicinal herbs are steeped in Eastern religious philosophy, particularly those dealing with the Chi, referred to as vital energy, but used interchangeably for the soul. This can be extremely spiritually dangerous, although many of the herbs used can be incorporated into a Western medicinal garden without attribution to chi.
That said we, in the West, primarily use herbs that are part of our
contemporary culture whether for flavoring or remedies. Things like comfrey, mullein, lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint, calendula, elderberries, raspberries, and so forth can be found in our gardens and used quite often for various purposes. My elderberry wine in addition to being a fine sippin’ wine is very useful for those suffering from colds or flu. Generally speaking, lemon balm, peppermint, and spearmint provide a cooling effect on a hot summer afternoon. In fact, most of the cordials and liquors so popular today had their origins in herbal tinctures of folklore, and so called folk medicine. A famous example of this is the cordial Benedictine which had its roots in the ancient medieval monastic herb gardens.
Most folk remedies were forgotten in the early half of the twentieth century, most especially as antibiotics and other big pharmaceuticals developed. Much like the growth of inorganic chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, the reliance of the general population turned to these as the panacea for all agricultural problems. It is only recently we learned of the overall deleterious effect of these chemicals on the overall soil, flora, and fauna … most especially man. We are right now finding out similar results with the overuse of antibiotics as “superbugs”, that is, bacteria which are resistant to antibiotics, are increasingly developing worldwide. So perhaps the culture and use of herbs will once again come into prominence.
Meantime, I will attempt to reclaim my herb garden and bring in some order, as well as, bring in some new species of culinary and medicinal herbs. For now I include some pictures of my garden in its “wilding” state and I will contrast these with some “after” shots next weekend.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.