The fluctuating thermometre has me wondering if spring will ever really arrive!  I have to confess to rescuing my rosemaries after putting all my faith into the sunshine over the past couple of weeks and then one last (hopefully last!) blast of blustery snow arrives!  It is always predictable but I can't help myself.

Many of the plants in my herb garden were starting to come out weeks ago. But the weather has been extreme here in Ontario. One day it is below zero Celsius and the next it is a balmy - almost too hot to garden - day! My lemon balm turned brown with the frost and the periwinkle was scorched by the sun!  

I hope you will enjoy reading this issue.  You will find plenty of  inspiration for  your garden projects for the coming season. While waiting for the mercury to rise, some of us still have time to plan what new ideas will take shape in our herb gardens.

How about a bed of purple passion or a Chocolate Garden? 

In this issue you will enjoy making Herbal Vinegars with Susun Weed to help you fill your pantry with summer's bounty both for nutrition and culinary usage. Travelling about with Heather Garrod and discovering some new rosy ideas with Maureen Rogers are also on the agenda. 

Back issues of the e-zine will now be listed on the archives page for the convenience of our readers. Here is where you will find a handy reference to past articles at your fingertips.

Happy Herb Gardening!
Janette Oliver-Rodgers


A Culinary Delicacy
May the queen of flowers, reign too in the kitchen!
By Maureen Rogers

   What's in a name? That which we call a rose
Would by any other name smell as sweet. 
              - Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Rose water and rose syrup, made from rose petals, are used in numerous Middle Eastern and Indian pastries and confections and are available from specialty stores and ethnic markets.  Rose petals are used in making jelly, butter, vinegar, syrup, tea cakes and desserts.  They are ideal for crystallizing and are good macerated with wine and fruit.  They are also used to garnish desserts and salads.  Rose petal sandwiches started with placing a hunk of butter with rose petals in a closed jar overnight. The delicately flavored butter was spread on thin slices of bread that were made into sandwiches with a few fresh petals showing around the edges.  Roses were also included in the liqueur Parfait d’Amour.  Lassi, an East Indian yogurt drink, is flavored with rose water.

To prepare flowers for kitchen use, rinse them and shake off the water.  Grasp the open flower in one hand so that the stem is pointing upward.  With a sharp pair of scissors, snip right below the stem, and the petals will fall freely.  Trim off any bitter white part at the base of each petal.  Greenhouse roses are not recommended because they most likely have been sprayed.  The more fragrant roses offer the most flavor.  Roses vary in flavour and the darker ones have a stronger taste than the lighter ones. The old-fashioned varieties are the best choice.  Good choices for edible roses include: R. rugosa, R. damascena, R. x alba and R. glanteria.

Crystallized Flower Petals

1 Tbsp gum Arabic

1 Tbsp warm water

20 rose petals, gently rinsed and patted dry

¼  cup superfine sugar

        In a small bowl, with a wooden spoon, thoroughly mix the gum Arabic with the water until smooth.  If small lumps remain, strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve.  With a clean, small, soft-bristle brush, paint both sides of a petal with a thin coat of the gum Arabic mixture.  Sprinkle each side lightly with superfine sugar.  Set petal on a metal rack to air dry.  Continue in this manner until all the ingredients are used. When the petals are completely dry, store them in an airtight container.  Use within 3 months. Gum Arabic can be found in most cake decorating supply shops.

Rose Petal Jam

4 cups rose petals

1¼  cups water

juice of 2 lemons

1 cup white sugar

2 Tbsp rose water

Gently simmer the rose petals in water for 15 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and sugar and bring again to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved.  Cook steadily for 15-20 minutes, until the jam starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and stir in the rose water.  Pour into sterile jelly glasses and seal. 

(The Herbal Connection Collection)

Lobster Salad a la Roses

2 cups cold cooked lobster

6 Tbsp salad oil

3 Tbsp vinegar

½  tsp rose water

¼  tsp minced fresh tarragon

salt and cayenne pepper to taste

pickled rosebuds

Marinate the lobster chunks in the other ingredients for at least an our in the refrigerator.  Serve on lettuce with a few additional pickled rosebuds tucked in.  (The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery)

The Rosehattan

1½  ounces whiskey

¼  ounce dry vermouth

¼  ounce sweet vermouth

3-4 drops rose water

1 candied rose petal

Shake the liquid ingredients with crushed ice and strain.  Drop a candied rose petal into the glass as a garnish.  (The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery)

And I will make thee beds of Roses
and a thousand fragrant posies.
           -Christopher Marlowe

Celebrate the rose!

The Trials of Travel
By Heather Garrod
Note to self: create a spray to clean small hands that have travelled over every surface in airport lounge- also to ward
off airborne bacteria from passenger in next seat with horrific cough.

     On a trip to Chile last spring, I learned a lot about what I didn't bring (and should have). Along with an anti-bacterial spritzer, my parched lips and cracked knuckles were a constant reminder of why I should have tucked a moisturizer (with healing herbs like calendula, chamomile or lavender) into my carry-on baggage. Airplanes are very drying, and a refreshing lotion or spritzer can make any trip more enjoyable.

Over the course of the next two weeks, I got my bearings and even managed to find natural sea salts in the local grocery store in Santiago. They were a wonderful treat after a long day's hiking around the city. We had brought lavender and tea tree essential oils as part of our first aid kit and used them in soothing baths for the children. 

Note to self: having that antibacterial spray would have been
a great foot refresher and handy for those well-worn sneakers we all had. 

I had packed a shampoo bar which was not only leak proof, but handy to repack and biodegradable. 

We're planning another trip this summer. Here's my preliminary list for natural travel: 
-sun protection (with zinc oxide to protect against both UVA and UVB rays)
-carbon capsules (we've found these effective for diarrhea and possible food poisoning)
-healing salve
-lotions/ lip balm (petroleum-free)
-antibacterial spray -baking soda (for poulticing bee stings and a soothing soak in the tub)
-pure essential oils of lavender (for sleepless nights) 
-ginger essential oil in almond or olive oil (the kids love this soothing tummy-stomach treatment)

** since we'll be travelling for three weeks with three kids: pack the



capture their nourishing goodness!
By Susun S. Weed
 A pantry full of herbal vinegars is a constant delight. Preserving fresh herbs and roots in vinegar is an easy way to capture their nourishing goodness. It's easy, too. You don't even have to have an herb garden
Basic Herbal Vinegar

Takes 5 minutes plus 6 weeks to prepare.

You will need:

glass or plastic jar of any size up to one quart/liter

plastic lid for jar or

waxed paper and a rubber band

fresh herbs, roots, weeds

one quart/litre apple cider vinegar

Fill any size jar with fresh-cut aromatic herbs. (See accompanying list for suggestions of herbs that extract particularly well in vinegar.) For best results and highest mineral content, be sure the jar is well filled with your chosen herb, not just a few springs, and be sure to cut the herbs or roots up into small pieces. 

Pour room-temperature apple cider vinegar into the jar until it is full. Cover jar with a plastic screw-on lid, several layers of plastic or wax paper held on with a rubber band, or a cork. Vinegar disintegrates metal lids.

Label the jar with the name of the herb and the date. Put it some place away from direct sunlight, though it doesn't have to be in the dark, and someplace that isn't too hot, but not too cold either. A kitchen cupboard is fine, but choose one that you open a lot so you remember to use your vinegar, which will be ready in six weeks.

Why Vinegar?

                           Apple cider vinegar has been used as a health-giving agent for centuries. Hippocrates, father of medicine, is said to have used only two remedies: honey and vinegar. A small book on Vermont folk remedies--primary among them being apple cider vinegar--has sold over 5 million copies since its publication in the fifties. A current ad in a national health magazine states that vinegar can give someone a longer, healthier, happier life. Among the many powers of vinegar: it lowers cholesterol, improves skin tone, moderates high blood pressure, prevents/counters osteoporosis, and improves metabolic functioning. Herbal vinegars are an unstoppable combination: the healing and nutritional properties of vinegar married to the aromatic and health-protective effects of green herbs (and a few wild roots). 

Herbal vinegars don't taste like medicine. In fact, they taste so good I use them frequently. I pour a spoonful or more on beans and grains at dinner; I use them in salad dressings; I season stir-fry and soups with them. This regular use boosts the nutrient-level of my diet with very little effort and virtually no expense. Sometimes I drink my herbal vinegar in a glass of water in the morning, remembering the many older women who've told me that apple cider vinegar prevents and eases their arthritic pains. I aim to ingest a tablespoon or more of mineral-rich herbal vinegar daily. Not just because herbal vinegars taste great (they do!), but because they offer an easy way to keep my calcium levels high (and that's a real concern for a menopausal woman of fifty). Herbal vinegars are so rich in nutrients that I never need to take vitamin or mineral pills. 

Why vinegar? Water does a poor job of extracting calcium from plants, but calcium and all minerals dissolve into vinegar very easily. You can see this for yourself. Submerge a bone in vinegar for six weeks. What happens? The bone becomes pliable and rubbery. Why? The vinegar extracted the minerals from the bone. (And now the vinegar is loaded with calcium and other bone-building minerals!)

After observing this trick its not unusual to fear that if you consume vinegar your bones will dissolve. But you'd have to take off your skin and sit in vinegar for weeks in order for that to happen! Adding vinegar to your food actually helps build bones because it frees up minerals from the vegetables you eat. Adding a splash of vinegar to cooked greens is a classic trick of old ladies who want to be spry and flexible when they're ancient old ladies. (Maybe your granny already taught you this?) In fact, a spoonful of vinegar on your broccoli or kale or dandelion greens increases the calcium you get by one-third.

All by itself, vinegar helps build bones; and when it's combined with mineral-rich herbs, vinegar is better than calcium pills. Some people worry that eating vinegar will contribute to an overgrowth of candida yeast in the intestines. My experience has led me to believe that herbal vinegars do just the opposite; perhaps because they're so mineral rich. Herbal vinegars are especially useful for anyone who can't (or doesn't want to) drink milk. A tablespoon of infused herbal vinegar has the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk.

What can I harvest for my bone-building vinegars?

     So out the door I go, taking a basket and a pair of scissors, my warm vest and my gloves, to see what I can harvest for my bone-building vinegars.

The first greens to greet me are the slender spires of garlic grass, or wild chives, common in any soil that hasn't been disturbed too frequently, such as the lawn, the part of the garden where the tiller doesn't go, the rhubarb patch, the asparagus bed, the coven of comfrey plants. This morning they're all offering me patches of oniony greens. Snip, snip, snip. The vinegar I'll make from these tender tops will contain not only minerals, but also allyls, special cancer-preventative compounds found in raw onions, garlic, and the like.

Here where tulips will push up soon, in a sunny corner, is a patch of catnip intermingled with motherwort, two plants especially beloved by women. I used catnip to ease menstrual cramps, relieve colic, and bring on sleep. Motherwort is my favorite remedy for moderating hot flashes and emotional swings. They are both members of the mint family, and like all mints, are exceptionally good sources of calcium and make great-tasting vinegars. Individual mint flavors are magically captured by the vinegar. From now until snow cover next fall, I'll gather the mints of each season--peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, bee balm, oregano, shiso, wild bergamot, thyme, hyssop, sage, rosemary, lavender--and activate their unique tastes and their tonic, nourishing properties by steeping them in vinegar. What a tasty way to build strong bones, a healthy heart, emotional stability, and energetic vitality.

Down here, under the wild rose hedge, is a plant familiar to anyone who has walked the woods and roadsides of the east: garlic mustard. I'll enjoy the leaves in my salad tonight, as I do all winter and spring, but I'll have to wait a bit longer before I can harvest the roots, which produce a vibrant, horseradishy vinegar that's just the thing to brighten a winter salad and keep the sinuses clear at the same time.

And what's this? A patch of chickweed! It's a good addition to my vinegars and my salads, boosting their calcium content, though adding scant flavor. In protected spots, she offers year-round greens.

Look down. The mugwort is sprouting, all fuzzy and grey. I call it cronewort to honor the wisdom of grey-haired women. The culinary value of this very wild herb is oft o'erlooked. I was thrilled to find it for sale in Germany right next to the dried caraway and rosemary, in a little jar, in the supermarket. Cronewort vinegar is one of the tastiest and most beneficial of all the vinegars I make. It is renowned as a general nourishing tonic to circulatory, nervous, urinary, and mental functioning, as well as being a specific aid to those wanting sound sleep and strong bones. Cronewort vinegar is free for the making in most cities if you know where this invasive weed grows. 

To mellow cronewort's slightly bitter taste and accent her fragrant, flavourful aspects, I pick her small (under three inches) and add a few of her roots to the jar along with the leaves. I cut the tall flowering stalks of this aromatic plant in the late summer or early autumn, when they're in full bloom, and dry them. The leaves, stripped carefully
from the stalks, provided stuffing (and magic) for our winter dream pillows; they are said to carry one into vivid dreams and visions. 

The sun is bright and strong and warm. I turn my face toward it and close my eyes, breathing in. I feel the vibrating life force here. Everything is aquiver. I smile, knowing that that energy will be available to me when I consume the vinegars I'll make from these herbs and weeds. As I relax against the big oak, I breathe out and envision the garden growing and blooming, fruiting and dying, as the seasons slip through my mind's eye....

The air grows chillier at night. The leaves fall more quickly with each breeze. The first mild frosts take the basil, the tomatoes and the squash, freeing me to pay attention once again to the perennial herbs and weeds, and urging me to make haste before even the hardy herbs drop their leaves and retreat to winter dormancy.

The day dawns sunny. Yes, now is the time to harvest the last of the garden's bounty, the rewards of my work, the gifts of the earth. I dress warmly (remembering to wear red; hunting season's open), stash my red-handled clippers in my back pocket, and take a baskets in one hand and a plastic tub in the other. 

My baskets are overflowing ...

     Then I'm out the door, into autumn's slanting sunshine and my quiet garden. My black cat bounds over to help me harvest and, after a while, the white cat emerges from under the house to purr and signal her satisfaction with my presence in her domain this morning.

My gardening friends say the harvest is over for the year, but I know my weeds will keep me at work harvesting until well into the winter. In no time at all my deep basket is full and I'm wishing I'd brought another. Violet leaves push against stalks of lamb's quarter. Hollyhock, wild malva, and plantain leaves jostle for their own spaces against the last of the comfrey and dandelion leaves. (I think dandelion leaves are much better eating in the fall than in the spring, much less bitter to my taste after they've been frosted a few nights.) The last of the red clover blossoms snuggle in the middle. Though not aromatic or intensely flavored, a vinegar of these greens will be my super-rich calcium supplement for the dark months of winter. 

My baskets are overflowing and I haven't gotten to the nettles and the raspberry leaves yet. They're superb sources of calcium, too. Ah! The gracious abundance of weeds, or should I say "volunteer herbs?" I actually respect them more than the cultivated herbs; respect their strident life force, and their powerful nutritional punch, and their added medicinal values that help me stay healthy and filled with energy. 

The main work of this frosty fall morning is to harvest roots: dandelion, burdock, yellow dock, and chicory roots. I've been waiting for the frost to bite deep before harvesting the nourishing, medicinal roots of these weeds. With my spading fork (not a shovel, please) I carefully unearth their tender roots, leaving a few to mature and shed seeds so I have a constant supply of young roots. I love the feel of the root sliding free of the soil and into my hands, offering me such gifts of health.

Burdock I admire especially, for its strength of character and its healing qualities. I settle down to do some serious digging to unearth their long roots. For peak benefit, I harvest at the end of the first year of growth, when the roots are most tenacious and least willing to leave the ground. Patience is rewarded when I dig burdock.
Eaten cooked or turned into a vinegar (and the pickled pieces of the root consumed with the vinegar), burdock root attracts heavy metals and radioactive isotopes and removes them quickly from the body. For several hundred years at least, and in numerous cases that I have witnessed, burdock root is known to reverse pre-cancerous changes in cells.

Dandelion and chicory are my allies for long life. They support and nourish my liver and improve the production of hydrochloric acid in my stomach, thus insuring that I will be better nourished by any food I eat. I make separate vinegars of each plant, but like to put both their roots and their leaves together in my vinegar. A
spoonful of either of these in a glass of water in the morning or before meals can be used to replace coffee. Note that roasted roots used in coffee substitutes do not have the medicinal value of fresh roots eaten cooked or preserved in vinegar.

Yellow dock is the herbalist's classic remedy for building iron in the blood. Like calcium, iron is absorbed better when eaten with an acid, such as vinegar, making yellow dock vinegar an especially good way to utilize the iron-enhancing properties of this weed. (It nourishes the iron in the soil, too, and is said to improve the yield of apple trees it grows under.)

And at that thought, I awaken from my reverie and return to spring's sunshine with a smile. The white cat twines my legs and offers to help me carry the basket back inside to the warmth of the fire. The circle has come around again, like the moon in her courses. Autumn memories yield spring richness. The weeds of fall offer tender green magic in the spring. What I harvested last November has been eaten with joy and I return to be gifted yet again by the wild that lives here with me in my garden. 

Making Herbal Vinegars 

-It is vital to really fill the jar. This will take more herb or root than you would think. 

     A good selection of jars of different sizes will enable you to fit your jar to the amount of plant you've collected. I especially like babyfood jars, mustard jars, olive jars, peanut butter jars and juice jars. Plastic
is fine, though I prefer glass. 

     Always fill jar to the top with plant material; never fill a jar only part way. 

     Pack the jar full of herb. How much? How tight? Tight enough to make a comfortable mattress for a fairy. Not too tight and not too loose. With roots, fill jar to within a thumb's width of the top. 

     For maximum strength herbal vinegar, snip or chop herbs and roots. For maximum visual delight, leave plants whole.

     Regular pasteurized apple cider vinegar from the supermarket is what I use when I make my herbal vinegar. Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar can also be used. Note that unpasteurized vinegar forms
vinegar "mothers." Vinegar mothers are harmless. (Actually, they're of value. I've seen vinegar mothers for sale for fancy prices in specialty food shops.) In a jar filled with herb and vinegar, the vinegar mother
usually grows across the top of the jar, clinging to the herb, and looking rather like a damp, thin pancake.

     Rice vinegar, malt vinegar, wine vinegar, or any other natural vinegar can be used, but they are much more expensive than apple cider vinegar and many have taste which overpower or clash with the taste of the herbs.

     I don't use white vinegar, nor do I use umeboshi vinegar (a Japanese condiment). 

The reason that most recipes for herbal vinegar tell you to boil the vinegar is to pasteurize it! I do not find it necessary to heat the vinegar as it is already pasteurized and the final vinegar tastes better if the herbs are not doused with boiling vinegar.

Plants That Make Exceptionally 
Good-Tasting Herbal Vinegars

Bee balm (Monarda didyma) flowers, leaves, stalks
Bergamot (Monarda sp.) flowers, leaves, stalks
Burdock (Arctium lappa) roots
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) leaves, stalks
Chicory (Cichorium intybus) leaves, roots
Chives and especially chive blossoms
Dandelion (Traxacum off.) flower buds, leaves, roots
Dill (Anethum graveolens) herb, seeds
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) herb, seeds
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis)
Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) flowers
Ginger (Zingiber off.) and Wild ginger (Asarum canadensis) roots
Lavender (Lavandula sp.) flowers, leaves
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) new growth leaves and roots
Orange mint leaves, stalks
Orange peel, organic only
Peppermint, Apple mint (Mentha piperata and etc.) leaves, stalks
Perilla (Shiso) leaves, stalks
Rosemary (Rosmarinus off.) leaves, stalks
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) leaves, stalks
Thyme (Thymus sp.) leaves, stalks
White pine (Pinus strobus) needles
Yarrow (Achilllea millifolium) flowers and leaves

Plants To Use When Making 
a Herbal Calcium Supplement

Amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus) leaves
Cabbage leaves
Chickweed (Stellaria media) whole herb
Comfrey (Symphytum officinalis) leaves
Dandelion leaves and root
Kale leaves
Lambsquarter (Chenopodium album) leaves
Mallow (Malva neglecta) leaves
All mints, including sage, motherwort, lemon balm, lavender, peppermint, etc.
Mugwort (cronewort) (Artemisia vulgaris)
Nettle (Urtica dioica) leaves
Parsley (Petroselinum sativum) leaves
Plantain (Plantago majus) leaves
Raspberry (Rubus species) leaves
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) blossoms
Violet (Viola ordorata) leaves
Yellow dock (Rumex crispus and other species) roots

Herbal Vinegars 
Where You Eat the Pickled Plants, too

Yellow Dock



Herbal remedies have surged in popularity and are flying off store shelves. For those consumers who are also parents, natural herbal remedies for children are also of interest. As parents, we all want what is best for our kids, many of us desire to give our kids healthy, safe and naturally derived medicines.

Many over the counter drugs for kids including vitamins, cough syrups, and pain relievers are laced with alcohol, artificial colours, and artificial flavours. In fact, it is almost impossible to find these products without all the bells and whistles that are suppose to make them more appealing to kids. After all, half the battle is getting them to take their medicines, right? Selecting the right products for your family, can be challenging for parents, especially when some kids seem to prefer the candy-like remedies.  .

Herbal manufacturers recognize the need for parents to find alternatives that are free of additives and preservatives. In the marketplace, you can now find herbal tinctures and extracts designed especially for the young consumers, but not all mainstream herbal brands have caught on to this new market ...yet!

Naturally sourced tangerine flavoured children's medicines seem to be just as popular as Blueberry Blaster or Strawberry Sam in our house. You may have to read a few labels first - but these "parents of colour and sugar induced hyper-active kids" friendly products are out there!

Most brands of tinctures contain alcohol as the extraction ingredient but some manufacturers of children's herbals are using vegetable glycerine in place of alcohol. In some cases, the alcohol is evaporated off and replaced with glycerine. Glycerine is naturally sweet so some manufacturers do not find the need to artificially sweeten the tinctures to help them go down more easily.

Herbal extracts or tinctures are preferred by many parents over caplets and herbal teas just for the reason that they are much easier to administer.

More and more combinations for colds and flus and minor complaints such as tummy upsets are being created to give parents the comfort of having a remedy designed exclusively for little ones. It takes all the guesswork out and gives parents the confidence they need to administer dosages and particular herbs for particular problems.

I predict you will see more herbal medicines being targeted at the younger consumer. For a little while, we may have the pleasure of choosing from several brands.  The demand will drive prices down as with any commodity.  It is probably not far off in the future that we will see kid's super heros pushing the herbs in those seemingly - ever growing larger mega retailers across North America! 

As recommended with all medications, you should check with your health care provider before using them. But if your regular GP is not too keen on herbs ... you may have to remind him or her that there is not much more than "fennel seed"  gripe water and "minty " oval drops available for colicky babies. Modern science hasn't cracked that one yet! But that's another story, as they say.

Here's a couple of easy to grow "tea" herbs that are kid-friendly. Include them in your herb garden.

These herbal teas are regarded as safe for children and can also be used as iced beverages, and sweetened with honey or stevia for the coming summer months. Blended herbal teas containing hibiscus flowers as the colouring agent are particulary popular with kids. It gives beverages a rich crimson colour  Remember - Red Rules! Green Drools!

Chamomile Matricaria recutita - Annual - Apple scented blossoms are soothing and calming. If your kids like this tea, you may find the liquid also useful as an anti-inflammatiory wash for skin rashes. I have used it myself for kids with poison ivy rashes.  Not recommended for children with hayfever due to the pollen in the flowers.

Sow the seeds directly in the garden in a sunny location. The daisy like flowers are aromatic and not bothered much by way of garden pests.

Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis - Perennial - Lemon scented leaves may also be used to make a summer cooler, alone or in combination with lemonade. This herbal tea is regarded as being helpful for nervous anxiety, alleviating headaches, flatulence, and colic.

Sow the seeds directly outdoors. Lemon balm doesn't seem to mind sun or shade. You will find that it is a very tolerant plant but it does much better with a bit of shade.  The plant should be trimmed and discouraged from flowering as you will notice a decline in leaf production. The foliage dies with the frost and should be trimmed away in spring.

Dried chamomile, lemon balm and some lavender flowers, in equal quantities, blended together also makes a lovely stuffing for sleep pillows!




By Jen L. Jone

sThe word purple originated from the Greek porphura which denoted a type of shellfish found in the Mediterranean. Around the ancient city of Tyre in south Lebanon, a reddish dye produced from this mollusc was highly prized and used for dyeing royal garments.

This red dye (actually a deep crimson between red and blue) from the porphura was thus called "Tyrian purple." The word porphura later came to mean the dye itself and then the cloth coloured with it ("royal cloth"). In this latter sense the word made its way into Latin as purpura and from there into Old English. From the association of the dye with royal garments came the phrase "Born to the Purple."

The Latin word purpurea is often used as the second part of a plant’s scientific name (the species name) in binomial nomenclature and means, appropriately enough, "purple." Hence we find for example Echinacea purpurea, purple coneflower, and Digitalis purpurea, foxglove. Sometimes purpurea denotes the variety as in Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurea,’ purple sage. 

A Few Plants to Consider for Your Purple Garden

Purple Foliage

Purple Sage - Salvia officinalis ('Purpurea")
Purple Perilla - Perilla frutescens
Purple Basil - (Ocimum) Several Varieties including 
DarkOpal, Ruffles, Rubin, Purple Bush

Purple Flowers

Lavender - For dark flowers - Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote" and Lavadula angustifolia 'Lady'
Beebalm - Wild Bergamot - Monarda fistulosa
Anise Hyssop - Agastache feoniculum

Don't let your passion stop there!

Try growing some purple runner beans!

Whether mauve, violet, lavender, or deep royal blue, they are "Born to the Purple" everyone!


The Lilac Scented Kitchen
Incredibly edible! 

By Janette Oliver-RodgersLilac (Syringa vulgaris) to many of us is that first scent of spring. You just knew that the end of the school year was insight when the classroom became fragrant with homemade bouquets of tulips and lilacs for the teacher.

But did you know that lilac is edible? Yes! You may not have thought of running right out to the garden to munch a bunch - but keep reading and you will be enticed to nibble a little the next time you are standing next to this delightful flowering bush.

Many would describe the flavour to be much like that of lavender. Don't we always use similarities when describing flavours? But like the lavender not all lilacs taste the same. Some are more floral rich and others sweet.

Lilac flowers can be candied like many other edible flowers and also used fresh as a garnish. If you have cooked with lavender, then you will find lilac to be of  similar useage in desserts, beverages and sweets. The taste of lilac lends itself to many recipes and may be used in salads, cakes, cookies, scones and much more.

From Taiwan comes a  Lilac Oolong (Bao Jong) Tea which is a very lightly oxidized oolong with an intoxicating floral aroma that comes from the tea leaves gently scented with natural lilac. "The aroma is wonderfully distinctive, floral and sweet; the taste is lovely intense floral, distinctive, sweet, mellow and refreshing.  The aftertaste exhibits a lingering hint of sweet.  An excellent cup." is how one tea drinker from California describes it. Lilac Oolong is available at specailty tea shops and retails for approximately $8 US for 2oz.

To indulge your friends with your new culinary lilac, prepare a yogurt dip with a cup of  vanilla yogurt, two teaspoons of honey and a little chopped lilac blossoms stirred in. Refrigerate for an hour and serve with cherries and strawberries and garnish the tray with the best looking blossoms. Another simple suggestion for trying some lilac is to blend some blossoms into some plain cream cheese and spread onto a pumpernickle or rye bread. Add a thin slice of cucumber to open faced sandwiches and serve at tea. You have to remember to use the "light" cream cheese - you never know, you may just like it and this way you can eat more than you planned on!

As with any edible flower, be certain that the flowers are free of chemicals and if you are not sure of the plant itself - ask someone to help you identify it.

Lilacs grow to be about 15 feet tall and you should always trim back the spent flowers to encourage more blooms for the following year. Grow your lilac in a well drained location that receives optimum sunlight. Lilacs are a beautiful addition to the edible landscape!