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The Country Enterprise Handbook
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The flower & herb gardens
...Growing flowers
>..- Varieties
...- Medicinal
...Pot Pourri
...Bouquet Garni

A good way to create a garden like effect is to plant a new lawn a chamomile lawn.

Raise some plants from seed and plant them in April. The plants need four inches between them. In the first season let the plants flower freely; from then on mow the lawn with the blades at the highest cut. Walking on this lawn releases a gentle perfume. Chamomile tea made from the dried flowers is good for insomnia and makes a hair rinse for fair hair. There is a good market for nicely packaged herb teas. Dried mint makes another excellent herb tea as does dried marigold. Marigolds are another attractive herb to grow.

Sage, rosemary, thyme and lavender are permanent plants. Established as a thick border, they give a herb area a feeling of permanence. You can make the internal layout complicated as in an Elizabethan knot garden or plan it on simpler modern lines. A central raised area could be planted with an exotic-looking herb such as bergamot. This is sometimes referred to as bee balm and if you choose a variety with red flowers, it is a striking plant. Dill is delicious with fish; angelica can be candied. Nasturtium seeds can be pickled like capers and lavender dried to make lavender sachets to perfume drawers and cupboards. Balm has a distinctive lemon flavour we use it in yoghurt or chopped in salads. Herbalists recommend its use for gastric disorders and migraine.

With such a wide variety of herbs to choose from, many people are using herbs widely rather than specifically. Continual use of a quantity of herbs in your diet is a form of preventative medicine (of course, it is important not to make too many claims for the herbs you produce. Although some people use them as a total alternative to modern medicine, such treatment could be dangerous) Bay leaves have been used to treat anorexia: perhaps a clue to this lies in the fact that the flavour of bay subtly enhances the flavour of food without being overpowering. Comfrey is grown in great quantities by some believers. You can revert to Tudor ideals and make bone-healing compresses from an infusion of the leaves. Comfrey can also be used for congestion: the roots and leaves should be well boiled and the cooking water reduced before consumption. The old names for this apparently boundless plant were knit bone and boneset. Apart from all this, comfrey leaves make excellent compost and they are produced in abundance if the plants are cropped three times a year. You can also force the young growths to eat like asparagus.