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Tuesday, July 28, 2015


By Caroline Clemmons

Beth Trissel has had a conflict, so I’m filling in for her. Beth always has such beautiful photos and interesting blogs, I’m a bit nervous.

I’ve taken several of Beth’s workshops on herbs. From those came her book, PLANTS FOR A MEDEIVAL HERB GARDEN IN THE BRITISH ISLES. Don’t let the title fool you because most of the plants are found in the U.S. and many other countries.

Beth's book is available in print and e-book

One of the entries is the apple, which is universal, right? Beth says that the history of the apple is closely linked with the history of man. She mentions the Johnny Appleseed blessing, but doesn’t give the words, so I’m including them after the photo below:

Apples being gathered in an orchard
The Johnny Appleseed Blessing

Oh, the Lord is good to me, 
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun, and the rain, and the apple seed
The Lord is good to me.

When I read those words, the tune pops into my head from the Disney movie about Johnny Appleseed. But John Chapman, "Johnny Appleseed", was a real person who planted apples across the country. Today, there are many, many varieties of apples. I don't know how many were around when the great herbalist Culpepper was alive. Beth quotes A MODERN HERBAL:

"The chief dietetic value of apples lie in the mailic and tartaric acids. These acids are of benefit to persons of sedentary habits, who are liable to liver derangements, and they neutralize the acid products of gout and indigestion."


When we lived in a rural area, chickweed was a nuisance. I didn't like touching it to pull it from the lawn and only did so when wearing gloves. But the juice of this "weed" is valuable against scurvy. Boiled in lard, the plant becomes a soothing green ointment.

After the wet spring we had this year, fleas and other insects were abundant. We should have had a bounty of pennyroyal planted strategically around the yard. According to Beth, in addition to chasing fleas, pennyroyal smells lovely when trod upon.

My favorite flowers are various roses. Beth included them in her book. One uses the petals and the rose hips. Beth also shares that she gets old-time rosebud salve from the American-based Rosebud Perfume Company, founded in 1895 by George F. Smith. All their products are gluten-free.

Creeping Thyme

Many years ago when Hero and I lived between San Francisco and San Jose, California we grew a thyme groundcover which was very nice and had tiny lavender flowers. However, that dwarf groundcover was a newer variety. According to medieval herbalist Culpepper:

"Thyme is a noble strengthener of the lungs, as notable one as grows, nor is there a better remedy growing for whooping cough. It purgeth the body of phlegm and is an excellent remedy for shortness of breath. It is so harmless you need not fear the use of it. An ointment made of it takes away hot swellings and warts, helps the sciatica and dullness of sight and takes away any pains and hardness of the spleen; it is excellent for those that are troubled with the gout and the herb taken anyway inwardly is of great comfort to the stomach."

And we thought it was just pretty and smelled good.

If you read Beth's book, you'll learn a great deal about plants you may have thought only decorative or even a nuisance. She invites readers to "Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises."

The book is available in print and e-book. Buy link is

Photos from free commons


  1. Great job Caroline! Very interesting blog! I learned a lot I did not know!

    1. Thanks, Karren. I love Beth's herb classes and have taken two. She also grows old varieties of flowers, vegetables, and herbs in her home garden. Some of the seeds have been passed down for generations.

  2. What a great post! We have creeping thyme outside between flagstones and I have roses and a few other herbs. I am so going to order this book right now. Beth, thank you for writing it. Bye Caroline! ❌⭕️

  3. Thanks so much for filing in for me, Caroline, and doing such a wonderful post.

  4. What an interesting book and such a good resource for writers. Great post.

  5. What an interesting book and such a good resource for writers. Great post.

  6. Beth, I always enjoy your posts--especially the photographs.


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