Herb Garden Design Plans: Essential Plants for a 21st Century Healing Garden

Step outside your door and enter a tranquil sanctuary filled with healing herbs.

| June/July 2009

  • This herb garden is modeled after the healing gardens common in Middle Ages monasteries.
    Gayle Ford

Apothecary rose (Rosa gallica officinalis). This beloved rose grows 3 to 4 feet tall and bears crimson-magenta blooms in late spring through early summer. The plant can spread by suckers, so prune unwanted growth regularly. One favorite cultivar (R. gallica ‘Versicolor’), known as Rosa Mundi, has blooms of mottled white and pink. Petals once were used in cooking, cosmetics and medicines (to treat sores, coughs, colds, tension and more); rose hips are high in vitamin C.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis). This carefree annual has bright yellow to orange ray flowers, reaches about 18 inches, and blooms prolifically from spring through summer. It is easily propagated by seed. Petals can be used for skin lotions, salves and poultices.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). This hardy perennial or biennial grows 2 to 3 feet, with white daisy-like flowers. The leaves are used to treat migraines and other pain.

Aloe (Aloe vera). There are many other species of Aloe, but because most cannot tolerate frost, the plants usually are grown in pots. Grows to about 2 feet, with attractive, spiky leaves that contain a soothing gel. Apply the gel to skin cuts and burns.

Garlic (Allium sativum). This delicious medicinal herb is a bulb related to onions. Tuck cloves into any spare garden spaces to ensure a plentiful supply. Plant either in fall (for next-summer harvest) or in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked (for fall harvest). Garlic is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and has been shown to lower blood pressure.

German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). This sweet-smelling annual grows to about 2½ feet and has aromatic foliage. When taken as tea, its daisy-like blooms aid digestion and promote sleep. Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), a low-growing perennial, can be used in similar ways.

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