Harvesting Herbs – Angelica

Herbs can transform ordinary foods and always enhance the flavour of your favourite dishes.  The amount used in cooking depends on individual taste and on the type of herb.  Strongly flavoured herbs such as bay, sage, thyme, oregano and rosemary should be used sparingly.  Herbs have also been used for centuries to promote good health but always consult a doctor first if you have a condition, which needs attention.

Chop your gathered herbs at the last minute so that the full flavour of the aromatic oils is captured in the dish.  Fresh herbs go well with vegetables and can often be used as a seasoning instead of salt.  Basil and savory are valuable to people on low-salt diets.  Many fresh herbs such as caraway, chervil, lemon balm, salad burnet, savory and sorrel are not readily available from the local fruit and vegetable market but can all be grown easily and quickly in your garden or on the kitchen window sill.  Remember that the flavour of dried herbs is more concentrated so you should use them in smaller quantities.

Today I’m starting on an alphabet of herbs to take us into winter.  The first one is going to be ANGELICA. See picture above from Wikipedia above.


(Angelica archangelica)

This is a biennial or perennial herb, which grows to 20 cms or more.  Leaves are feather-like and soft green, stems are round, ribbed and hollow.  Flowers are yellow-green in umbels, i.e. a clustr of flowers with stalks of nearly equal length, which spring from about the same point.  Best suited to cool climate areas where it can be planted in sun or semi-shade.  Shelter from strong wind is desirable because the stems are brittle.


It is said that Angelica was first used medicinally after an angel revealed its powers to cure the plague.  Carthusian monks first used the seeds in the making of Chartreuse and it is also used in Vermouth.


At one time houses were scented by the burning roots and seeds in order to purify the interior.


Angelica stems can be candied  In its candied form the stalks become bright green and look most attractive when decorating cakes. They can also be used instead of sugar when stewing sour fruits like rhubarb.  It is a useful plant because you can use the leaves, stems, roots and seeds.  Good value for effort in growing!

The edible roots  and can be served as a vegetable.

Include chopped leaves in salads. If you dry the leaves first, they can be used for pot pourri and herb pillows.

The tips can be cooled in jams and marmalade.

The seeds are used in flavouring gin and some liqueurs.  The roots can be dried then ground or powdered to use as a fixative in pot pourri.


Angelica is both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. The plant acts as an expectorant and can be used to relieve the symptoms of a cold or to soothe a cough.

Angelica stimulates the circulation is also used by medical herbalists in cases of nervous asthma, urinary infection and painful periods.

Angelica can help you to avoid flatulence and ease digestion. It stimulates and warms the digestive system.


  • Fresh herbs can be dried or frozen for winter use.
  • Basil, thyme, marjoram and nasturtium can be used as a pepper substitute.
  • Herbs can be used to replace salt intake: try lovage, thyme and marjoram.
  • Scatter edible flowers over salads: marigolds, nasturtium and the blue flowers of borage all look fantastic used this way.
  • Comfrey makes an excellent liquid fertiliser with a high potash content.  Steep leaves in hot water for 24 hours.  Bottle in an airtight container and dilute in the ratio of 1:10 leaves to water.

Source of the above: Environment Friendly Home Hints by Family Circle and

Traditional Herbal Remedies by Jenny Plucknett

Warning: Do not take Angelica if you suffer from diabetes.

Propagating geraniums – how to take geranium cuttings.

 Picture of man in shed from the internet.

The geraniums in the tub below are beginning to look a bit tired.  Time to take cuttings.

I decided to start with the red one in the pot. Look at the next picture.  Can you see the larger stalk on the right of the red geranium?

That’s the one I’m starting with. Cut it off with your secateurs, just below a growing tip. See next picture to make sure you know what I mean by a growing tip.

Now remove and discard all the lower leaves and any flower stalks that are still apparent.  If you do this then the growth will go into the making of new roots and not into the production of more flowers. The larger leaves would die anyway so they need to come off. Now you are left with a perfect cutting. This will become a new plant, which you can put in your border next year, but you have to keep it indoors all through the winter.

Find your compost.  I put mine in a large blue tub, which doubles up as a play piece for my grandson when he comes round.  He loves to dig in here and it is relatively free from germs.

Put some of the compost in a small flower pot.  This one is a four inch pot. Incidentally this is not very good compost. I bought it in the Supermarket and it was cheap, but it is quite woody and not ideal for this job. The best compost is John Innes no. 2 which is a much finer compost. However I’ve put it in here so you can see the difference.  This would not be suitable for sewing seeds into. For that job you would need a much finer compost.

Poke the cutting into the compost in the pot until the growing tip is covered.  I’ve left this one a bit proud so you can see what I mean. You will need to poke it in further than this one.

Notice that a caterpillar has had a chew at this leaf.  Make sure he’s still not on the leaf when you plant the cutting (for obvious reasons).

This morning I did several.  I planted them together in a tub in the garden. They should be fine in there for another month and will benefit from the sun and the rain.  It will also make them hardy.  When I come back from America in mid October, I will take some more pictures of these cuttings so you can see how they’re doing. By then they will need to be put in pots and brought indoors before the first frosts arrive.

In the tub I have a selection of white, red, pink and peach cuttings.  It will be interesting to see which ones do the best.

These are cuttings of lychnis and Sweet Williams.  I’ll talk more about them another time.

After all that work, I reckon I deserved a nice lunch so I went into Oma’s kitchen and made myself a fry-up. Yummy!

What are you doing today?

In the garden with Oma – time to take cuttings!

I always take my cuttings in August so now I need to get busy.  I’ve already taken some Sweet Williams’ cuttings and they are doing very well. The lychnis too are fine but I have yet to get stuck in to plant wallflower seeds for next Spring.

Just look at this rhubarb leaf! I don’t exaggerate when I say it’s as big as an umbrella. If it started to rain, I could stand underneath it and keep dry.

The phlox are in full bloom just now.  They are so pretty and so prolific and welcome at this late summer time of the year. There’s a teasel in the bed too, cheeky!

This pretty pink rose is an old timer.  It’s been with me in the garden for a very long time.  So long that I’ve forgotten what it’s called!

This year it has thrived, other years it hasn’t done so well and I’ve threatened to dig it up, but I never do.

I think it’s done better this year because I’ve been fussing over the petunias, see picture below. I’ve made sure they’ve had lots of water and food and the rose has benefited from the extra attention. (Make note for next year – fuss over old rose more!)

Now back to my cuttings. Must get on and do them NOW.


In the garden – July 22nd 2012

I had to reach up really high to grab this beautiful climbing rose so I could take a picture of him. Holding him steady with one hand and taking a picture with the other is not easy, believe me but I am quite pleased with the result.  He is a little bit ragged round the edges owing to the rain this week, but overall he is surviving nicely and showing off his pretty colours, don’t you agree?

Don’t you just love the contrast in the colours below? The white of the feverfew with the blood red of the Sweet Williams is just gorgeous.

The potatoes are doing ok but the true test will be when I dig them up! I hope they are not rotten in the ground.  We have had the worst summer ever in England this year and that’s not just my opinion! Apparently we are importing a lot of vegetables from abroad now because we have just had too much rain.

The runner beans (on the left) have at last got some flowers – now we need lots of pollinating insects to get them going so they set. In the front are some tomatoes – not many flowers yet!!!

The runner beans look healthy enough and most years it is hard to get enough water to their roots, but this year I don’t think I’ve had to water them at all. I can’t believe we were in a drought situation at the start of April! We even had a hosepipe ban!

These Sweet Williams are that cerise colour which looks so good in a fashion show.

…and doesn’t the yellow contrast so well with the silvery green of the dogwood?

In the next picture we’ve got purple and white. White lifts every other colour and what would have been a dark corner is now ablaze. Even some liatris has got in with the feverfew.

Sunday is Gardening Day – July 15th 2012

During last week we have had far too much rain in the cottage garden. The climbing roses have been doing their best to hang on, but today I cut them back. With luck and if the weather is kind, we may see another flush in August.

The geraniums (pelargoniums) have also taken a battering but now, at last, I see some flowers.

The vegetables have suffered even more. The next picture shows the runner beans this time last year. Notice there are lots of flowers!

Now compare this year’s photograph… too much rain, not enough flying insects to pollinate the flowers.  Flowers? What flowers. We are still waiting.


Ivy on the balcony.

Feverfew is abundant just now.  It has a lovely, musty smell.

The daisies are hardy and seem to take whatever comes.  This year because of the wet conditions, they have grown very leggy.

Have a great week fellow bloggers.

Lady’s Mantle, Alchemilla Mollis, Sunday in the garden.

‘The botanical name of Lady’s mantle, Alchemilla mollis, means ‘the little alchemist.’  A hardy perennial, it has soft, fuzzy leaves with pleated edges that collect drops of dew, which explains how it earned the folk name of ‘dewdrop’ and ‘dewcup’.  This plant bears gorgeous yellow-green, loose and frothy-looking clusters of flowers in the summer, making it very popular in bridal bouquets and floral designs.

If you gather the dew that collects on the leaves of this herb, add it to spells and potions for a boost.  Or touch a dewdrop to your forehead for a herbal blessing.  Alchemilla Mollis was originally sacred to the Goddess, but as time went on, it became a popular plant in Monastic gardens and later became connected to the Virgin Mary.  This easy-to-grow herb is a wonderful addition to the magickal garden.  Work the flowers and leaves into spells for women’s magick, the earth goddess, healing and turning up the volume on your own herbal spells.  The elemental correspondence for lady’s mantle is water.  The planetary association is Venus. In the language of flowers, this herb signifies the comfort of protection.

Ellen Dugan


When I went into the garden this morning, it had been raining. Raindrops adorned many of the plants and shrubs and dripped from the trees, but the most beautiful were the lady’s mantles.  This year I intend to move some of them to fill up some empty spaces (choke – there aren’t many empty spaces!) but maybe I’ll find a few.

It is midsummer and what better time to work some spells for the good of other people. Alchemilla Mollis is the perfect choice to use at this time of the year.

Who knows,if you look really closely you might even see a fairy taking a shower as the wind disturbs the droplets.