As the roses begin to bloom, my aromatic ritual begins, I love making fresh batches of rose water. A canning jar filled with roses and water sits on the kitchen windowsill right now. The petals swirling as they begin to color the water a light pink. Soon all the healing graciousness of the roses will be infused into a liquid form. Calendula in the garden is a riot of color and spilling over with heavy bloom in the vintage wheel barrow planter by the raised veg beds, as I wait patiently as the lavender is just beginning to show buds and the chamomile is not far behind.
Do you know these flowering super healers? Here are a few favorites that are easy to grow and deserve a spot in every herb garden!
Calendula, pot marigold
Annual. Full sun to part shade. Easy to grow and start from seed. Grows 1 to 2 feet tall. Deadhead faded blooms to encourage repeat blooming.
Properties: soothing, astringent, and cleansing. Parts used: flower petals, use fresh or dried.
Notes: “Pot Marigold” should not to be confused with the garden-type Marigold (Tagetes). Use the petals of calendula fresh and dried to heal irritated and rashy skin. It is very gentle and soothing to all skin types. Invaluable infused in salves for first-aid preparations and the deep golden-orange petals add natural color to lotions and ointments. Recipes and more here!
Dry flower head whole on screens.
Chamaemelum nobile and Matricaria recutita
Zone 4. “German” (Matricaria recutita) is a tall-growing annual that heavily re-seeds if allowed. “Roman” (Chamaemelum nobile) is a low-growing carpet-like perennial. It grows up to 12 inches tall and spreads by creeping rhizomes. Full sun to part shade. Best in well-draining soil. Both chamomile flowers look similar and are used interchangeably in cosmetics; Roman chamomile will have a more intense fragrance. Grow the variety ‘Bodegold’ (Matricaria recutita ‘Bodegold’) for its high essential oil quality.
Properties: soothing, cleansing, emollient, reduces puffiness. Parts Used: flowers, use fresh and dried.
Notes: Sweet apple fragrance, very mild and healing to skin. Gentle for hair rinses, skin lotions and balms, and bath blends. Tea made from the flowers is well-known as a calming bedtime drink and soothing to an upset tummy. The expensive, deep blue oil extracted from the flowers is highly regarded for mature and aging skin to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Herbaceous to semi-evergreen perennial. Varieties grow from 12 inches to 4 feet tall. Full sun. Prefer dry, rocky soil and dislikes too much compost or richness. Must have well-draining soil to prevent the roots from rotting and brown rotting at the base of the plant. Use English varieties such as ‘Munstead’ or ‘Hidcote’ for a sweet fragrance or the hybrid cross intermedias such as “Grosso” and ‘Provence’ for heavy flower and oil production.
Properties: astringent, stimulating, cleansing, healing. Parts Used: Flower buds, use fresh and dried.
Notes: Known for its classic old-fashioned fragrance, super healing on burns, skin irritations, oily skin, and blemishes. Different types of lavender produce oils that have higher levels of camphor, making it good for cleansing and antibacterial properties. The diversity of lavender shows is all the ways to use it, including spray mists, teas, lotions and balms, bath blends, and sachets.
Zones 2-7. Shrub. Needs sun, rich soil, and good drainage—height 4 to 6 feet. Best old rose varieties for fragrance: ‘Frau Dagmar hastrup, Rosa rugosa ‘Hansa,’ rose du roi, damask roses (Rosa damascena) variety MME. Hardy or ‘Rose de Rescht’, Apothecary Rose (Rosa gallica ‘Officinalis’.) Rosa Mundi (Rosa gallica ‘Versicolor’)
Properties: humectant, cleansing, aromatic Parts used: flower petals, rose hips; fresh and dried.
Notes: Choose highly fragrant, multi-petaled roses and roses that produce good hips. The more fragrant the petals, the more essential oil is present. The apothecary rose is the traditional variety used for cosmetics and medicine. It is one of the oldest roses in cultivation with recorded history since 1300 AD. Historic medicals tout rose water was prescribed for many ailments, including “purification of the mind’. Use fresh, organically grown rose petals in bath blends, spray mists, lotions, and balms. Excellent for oily skin to cleanse, and its humectant attribute helps to hold natural moisture on skin without introducing oil.
Grab a signed copy of The Herb Lovers Spa Book to learn about more healing herbs to grow and over 45 recipes to make nurturing, fragrant blends, lotions, scrubs and more!