Beans: Scarlet Runner beans produce edible pods and blooms although they are so lovely in a garden setting many plant them purely for ornamentals. A tower of Scarlet Runners in the garden adds height and color and they are gorgeous on an archway trellis. Scarlet Runner beans should be picked while small and tender. At least in most areas these beans are considered perennial. They will die to the ground with frost but put up again from the roots in the spring. Scarlet runners are native to Central America and introduced to the U.S. in the early 1700’s.
Bee Balm (Monarda): Blossoms may be substituted for oregano and the leaves and petals can be added to salads and fruit salads. In old herbals this may be called horseming, Wild Oswego Tea, or Wild Bergamot.
Borage: The leaves were cooked for greens and the fresh leaves were used in salads along with mint, sage, parsley, garlic, fennel and rosemary. Borage flowers garnished custards, salads, soups, etc. Its flavor is similar to cucumbers, and the flowers are a beautiful blue. It is a welcome addition to the herb or the flower garden.
Carnations: Carnations are edible as is dianthus. Petals have been used in making Chartreuse (A French liqueur) since the 1600’s.
Chamomile: Chamomile has tiny daisy-like flowers that would complement floral gardens and people once thought it possessed medicinal qualities.
Columbine: A 15th century manuscript listed columbine in its “herbs for potage”. When combined with six other herbs and drunk with ale it was supposed to ward off the pestilence.
Day lilies: Blooms may be eaten in a variety of ways and used as garnish.
Hens and chicks, aka houseleek, was used to counteract diarrhea, heal inflammation of the eyes, gout, hemorrhage, headache, and ulcers. Planting them on thatched roofs was thought to prevent lightning strikes. It was used to stop bleeding and treat burns and cuts.
Iris: Iris were thought to stop coughs and convulsions, relieve bites of “venomous beasts”, treat sun burn and provoke sleep. Roots were used in perfume, sachets, potpourris, etc. and the petals of purple iris combined with alum produced a pigment for Medieval artists.
Lavender: Its lovely fragrance has been used for centuries to scent clothing and linens and it is also used as a culinary herb.
Lily of the Valley: a half pound of the flowers soaked in a liter of wine then distilled was said to be, “more precious than gold”, in treating apoplexy and that mixture applied to the back of the neck was thought to give the person good common sense. I will be placing a huge order for this fragrant lovely ASAP.
Mallow: Mallows include hibiscus and Althea, and okra is also a member of this family of plants. Hibiscus is edible and can be used to make a tea. During the Middle Ages it was a common potherb with the added bonus of keeping witches away from one’s home. The leaves were used for greens and the young green tops were added to salads.
Marigold: Flower petals were used to add color to soups and drinks and medicinally to treat a number of complaints. Marigolds are often used as a substitute for expensive saffron.
Nasturtiums: Buds were pickled and used like capers, leaves are edible in salads, and the petals make a lovely garnish. This flower is often misspelled in old herbals.
Peony: During the Middle Ages the seeds were used as a spice to flavor food. From “Piers Plowman” we find an alewife saying she has, “pepper and peony seed and a pound of garlic and a farthingale worth of fennel seed for fasting days”. Medicinally, it was thought to relieve epilepsy, aid in delivering babies, etc.
Periwinkle, aka Vinca: Vinca was called, “joy of the ground” because it was thought to ward off wicked spirits. “Whoever carries this herb with him on the skin, the devil has no power over him”. – “Hortus Sanitatis”. “No witchery may enter the house which has this herb hanging over the door and if any witchery be already therein it will be driven out soon”. It was thought to stay the flux, ease toothache, and temper a fever.
Primrose: Primrose was a Middle Ages potherb used in salads and when combined with rice flour, almonds, honey, saffron, and primrose flowers, almond milk and powdered ginger made a dish known as “primrose”.
Rose: Petals scented water to wash the hands, dried petals were used to perfume clothing and linens, used in cooking, etc. Rosewater was popular in cooking and in some cultures remains a favorite flavoring.
Rosemary: I plan to transplant rosemary from a raised bed to my flower garden as soon as the weather cools. Like thyme it produces pretty flowers and both the flowers and the leaves and stems carry a welcome fragrance. It was used during the Middle Ages in food, to make a wash for the eyes, used in a wash for the hands at table, put in amongst clothing and linens to ward off moths, etc.
Sage / Salvia: It was used in potages (soup), salads, for sauces and in meat pies. It flavored chicken and other meats. It was so commonly used as a medicinal herb that people said of it, “Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden”.
Thyme: Thyme has lovely tiny purple flowers and a pot of thyme in a strategic place within a garden adds both visually and fragrantly to the display. Thyme, being one of the most often used culinary herbs needs no account of its use.
Yarrow: Was used at home and on the battlefield to stop bleeding, cure a headache, aleviate heartburn, etc. Yarrow tea supposedly was a remedy for colds.
Yucca: Petals are crunchy and mildly sweet. They can be put into salads or used as a garnish.