THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Aug10

Jekka McVicar (the Wonderful)

Jekka McVicar

In July we were invited to visit Jekka’s Herb Farm and herbetum, a fantastic nursery just North of Bristol run by the wonderful Jekka McVicar.

It is the first time we had met her, although we bought her book ‘Jekka’s Complete Herb Book’ many years ago now (along with over 1 million other people who have a copy….) and it was an absolute pleasure – she is funny, down-to-earth and interested in how she can help you learn more about herbs, a group of plants that don’t always get the air time ornamentals and fruit and vegetables are allowed.

Here is a small selection of the notes we made and the ideas we learnt from our short visit, but rest assured we will be going again one day, as you should to – a tour of the herbarium is worth it for all the strange and exotic herbs you get to taste!

What We Learnt with Jekka McVicar

Oregano compactum is great for butterflies.

Different mint’s will all taste the same if their roots touch.

Stevia is considered a ‘novel’ food because it has not been used/eaten regularly by the food industry for 35 years. This wonder plant, that will provide a sweet and healthy alternative to sugar, becomes vatable when registered as a novelty food… and so doesn’t get grown and sold widely….

Herbs are plants of the people!

In Ayurvedic medicine an ill person was told to sit in the herb garden, the herbs would be in raised beds and then the people could breathe the fragrance in ‘at nose level’…

Tansy cake (made with Tanacetum vulgare) was eaten as a wormer at Lent. It also stops fleas if you rub it on your dog!

Lovage was used as a deodorant to line your leather boots and stop them smelling.

Sorrel can clear your palate (love Sorrel, a much under rated herb in the kitchen…)

People would make a drink of the most prolific herb – so formerly in London, Angelica, which grew along the banks of the Thames, would be made into gin. Juniper was a luxury item rarely used.

Bitter is a taste we don’t have enough of in our diets, but it is good for the liver and should be sought out – even as food producers try to make our fruit and vegetables sweeter!

Members of the Lamiaceae family need to be pruned after flowering – and there are a lot of herbs in this family…. see mint, oregano, hyssop, thyme, basil…

The scent of rosemary is good for your memory.

Lemon balm is good as a stress -reliever….

Celery seed and cider vinegar in hot water will help arthritis.

Filipendula (which is in our Seedballs) makes a great natural painkiller.

Pot marigold is not that tasty, but got its name from being added to the pot food was cooked in… hence the name pot herbs….

The root of Althea officinalis was used as a carbohydrate before potato. Incidentally, ‘officinalis’ gives you a clue to what the plant was used for – as a medicine.

Flax (linseed) should be eaten every day for good health. So get to it!

Our trip to see the herb farm and meet Jekka McVicar was brilliant and we highly recommend going – she is a treasure trove of knowledge and passion, so go, learn!

Buy the Herb Book by Jekka McVicar now!

 

Apr27

Beekeepers – Quick Notes On Plants For Bees

tulips for bees

Fine news for beekeepers today – a total ban on bee-harming pesticides has been announced! To celebrate, here is a list of plants we recommend as being brilliant for the bees: Helenium Sedum Echium vulgare Marjoram or Oregano Eupatorium (common name? Joe Pye-Weed. But don’t let that put you off!) Borage Nepeta Veronicastrum Teucrium Bonus plants for shady spots? Try hellebore, lamium and pulmonaria. Looking for a shrub to plant near your apiary? Phillyrea ought to do it. Although it is difficult to get hold of…. we are working on making it more available though, so check back with Modern …

READ MORE

Apr20

Thoughts On Modern Mint, April 2018

Hey Modern Minters, we have been busy already this year – so busy! Here is some of the topiary work we love doing so much…. A post shared by ModernMint (@modernmintshop) on Apr 5, 2018 at 9:48am PDT Whilst evenings (and some afternoons!) have been spent travelling the country giving garden talks to clubs, horticultural societies, WI’s and U3A’s. This is all fabulous fun but it has meant: We have not been consistent with our mailing list I have not finished the book ‘Helping The Honeybee’ I was due to get to the publisher by the end of February There …

READ MORE

Mar30

Helping The Honeybee, Southend On Sea Beekeepers

Helping the honeybee

This week I gave a talk – Helping The Honeybee – to the lovely beekeeping group at Southend on Sea. Here are some notes for those who didn’t have a chance to write down some of the ideas we spoke about and shared…. The Top Plants For Bees Helenium Sedum Echium Marjoram (which you will find in your seedballs) Oregano Eupatorium, also known as Joe Pye-Weed Borage Nepeta Veronicaastrum Teucrium Phillyrea If you want a hedge for around your apiary, you will not go too far wrong with planting the amazing, tough as old boots, Phillyrea. Read plenty more about …

READ MORE