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HERBS FOR SUMMER SOLSTICE: PART III

According to the Herbal Academy, “Of all the times of the year we celebrate plants, no other day is quite as magical as the summer solstice.” The solstice occurs annually between June 20th and June 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere, and it marks the first official day of summer, the longest day, and the shortest night of the year. The warm weather, singing birds, and blooming flowers bring hope and joy. Many ancient cultures have traditionally harvested herbs on this day, believing them to be at their greatest medicinal value.”

Red Clover Flower (Trifolium pratense): thrives in moist or dry conditions but drainage should be good. Slightly acidic soils with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5 are preferred. Plant in full sun or partial shade, although full sun provides the best yields. Sow the tiny seeds in a well-prepared bed from January to April or August to November. Plant seeds at ¼ inch deep or even scatter them on the surface of the soil and lightly dust them with earth. Keep them moderately moist until germination, which is generally 14 to 21 days. Water established plants regularly. Choose the site carefully, as red clover has a tendency to spread and become invasive. Cut back seed heads to prevent over-sowing of seeds and invasion of other beds. Otherwise, you can opt to till late summer planted clover in spring to increase soil fertility.

Red Clover is highly nutritive and rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B and C, calcium, chromium, magnesium, thiamine, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. As an alterative, red clover helps the body assimilate nutrients, remove metabolic waste, and ease skin conditions, chronic inflammatory conditions, and degenerative diseases. As a lymphatic and diuretic, red clover keeps fluids moving through the lymphatic system and eliminates waste via the urinary system. It also stimulates and nourishes the liver to keep the blood well-filtered. Red clover can be used as an infusion, tincture, and it can be consumed as food in salads, soups, and stews, vinegar infusions and herbal honeys. It is also excellent as a topical preparation such as a balm, salve, or massage oil.


Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus): has white flowers, each with 5 separate petals and 5 sepals, as well as ovate shaped leaves with serrated margins. Leaves are typically pinnate and compound, arranged in an alternate pattern. Leaves are commonly green on top with a white/grey coloring on the bottom. Plant in early spring once the ground thaws out and can be worked. Raspberries grow best in a sunny position but will also grow in a partially-shaded spot. The more sun, the more fruit. The planting site needs rich and well-drained soil, great air circulation, and shelter from wind. Avoid a wet area, as well as a windy spot, as raspberries do not like to stand in water nor totally dry out. Before planting, soak the roots for an hour or two. Dig a hole that is roomy enough for the roots to spread, and keep the crown of the plant 1 or 2 inches above the ground. Canes should be spaced 18 inches apart, with about four feet between rows. Fill the soil back in, and tamp it down with your foot. Once the canes are planted, cut them down to 9 inches tall to encourage new growth.

Red raspberry leaf is an astringent herb and is often used to tighten and tone relaxed tissues in the digestive and reproductive organs. Known as the woman’s herb, red raspberry is naturally high in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamins B, A, C, and E. The high levels of B vitamins make it useful for relieving nausea, soothing leg cramps, and improving sleep.


Rose (Rosa rugosa): choose a location that will get a lot of sun, and can handle the plants growing to a height of 5 feet. Plant roses where they will receive a minimum of 5 to 6 hours of full sun per day. Morning sun is especially important because it dries the leaves, which helps prevent diseases. Rugosa roses will grow into a very dense and thorny shrub, so don’t plan on using it too close to any walkways or paths. Brushing up against the rose bush can be unpleasant and prickly. Dig a hole large enough for the roots of the rose seedling, and plant it to the same depth as it was in its original pot, then give it a generous watering. Rugosa roses are extremely hardy, and are known to grow in the wild in the most inhospitable places. Water it regularly until it starts to produce new growth and get established. Once growing well, only water it during a drought. To get the hips to form, leave the dead rose blossoms on the bush. It may not look that attractive but it’s necessary to let the plant produce its fruit. If growing roses for the hips, do not cut the flowers to bring inside. Just enjoy them on the plant.

Rose petals and rosehips can be used to make tea. Rose petal tea is full of Vitamin C which boosts immunity, and can help ease the pain of menstrual cramps with its lovely floral flavor. Rosehip tea has a tart, fruity flavor and is packed full of nutrients such as Vitamin C, calcium, and zinc. Rose hips have been used to treat influenza, colds, to help strengthen the heart, and arthritis pain. Studies have shown that rose hips have anti-inflammatory, disease-modifying, and antioxidant properties.Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria): also known as “Queen of the Meadow” meadowsweet loves to grow in damp meadows and banks. It grows from 3 to 7 feet tall. The individual flowers are quite small but have five petals and many stamens, typical of the rose family. The leaves are dark green on top with a whitish and downy color on the underside. They grow as leaflets that are three to five lobed on the terminal leaflet. Meadowsweet blooms from June to September and boasts creamy white flowers. The flowers are strongly aromatic and sweet smelling.

Herbalists use meadowsweet to treat a variety of conditions including pain, indigestion, heartburn, arthritis, gastritis, chronic ulcers, peptic ulcer, minor stomach upsets, and diarrhea. Meadowsweet has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and astringent actions. A simple meadowsweet tea is wonderful medicine. It is strongly aromatic, sweet, and slightly astringent. Use a heaping tablespoon per pint of water. Steep covered for 15 minutes. It will get noticeably more bitter with the longer steeping time. Meadowsweet also works well as an alcohol extract or tincture. Generally, a small amount of glycerin is added to help extract the tannins.


Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): requires only sunlight, good drainage and ample air circulation to thrive. A sandy, well-draining soil and 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight daily will have the plants off and running in no time. Grown in a sheltered area with a southern exposure, plants can survive short periods of temperatures in the low teens. Rosemary doesn't need a lot of water whether indoors or out, but it does need to be put in front of a sunny south facing window. If this is not possible, use artificial light. Heat is not critical. A cool room will do fine. Move the plants back outdoors once the frost-free date has passed.

Rosemary has a ton of health benefits, including helping to boost memory and mood, and decreasing inflammation? Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. It is rich in antioxidants, which play an important role in neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals. The aroma from rosemary can improve concentration, performance, speed, and accuracy. Rosemary contains an ingredient called carnosic acid, which is protective against brain damage, improves recovery, and can slow brain aging.


Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans): plant in spring once all chances of frost have passed. Space plants 24 to 36 inches apart. Grow them in a spot that gets abundant sunshine and has sandy well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 8.0. Improve the native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or rich organic matter. Water regularly for the first few weeks after planting, then only water during a dry spell. Good drainage is essential during the growing season.

Pineapple sage has the sweet taste of pineapple combined with the earthy flavor of sage. It has Adaptogenic, antioxidant, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, carminative, antimicrobial, diuretic, stimulant, and expectorant properties. It is also a good source of vitamin A and Vitamin K. Pineapple Sage relieves anxiety, lowers blood pressure, eases mental fatigue, stress, and depression.


St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): a pretty little shrub with cheery yellow flowers that have a burst of long, showy stamen in the center, the blossoms of St. John’s Wort last from midsummer until fall, and they are followed by colorful berries. St. John’s wort grows well in sand, clay, rocky soil or loam, and tolerates acidic to slightly alkaline ph. St. John’s wort adapts to both moist and dry soil, and even tolerates occasional flooding. It also withstands drought but grows best with irrigation during prolonged dry spells. Plant in a location with bright morning sunlight and a little shade in the hottest part of the afternoon. Water slowly and deeply after planting and keep the soil moist until the transplants are well-established.

St. John's wort boost mood, relieves symptoms of depression, calms anxiety, eases menopause-related symptoms and PMS, and helps with seasonal affective disorder, and smoking cessation. An oil made from St. John’s wort has also been used topically for wound healing and a variety of other skin conditions such as eczema and hemorrhoids.

Thyme: (Thymus vulgaris): plant in spring once the danger of frost has passed. Thyme grows well in full sun but also tolerates partial sun. It is an ideal herb that is very low maintenance. Space thyme plants 12 to 154 inches apart in a very sunny area with fertile, well-drained soil that is on the dry side, and has a pH close to 7.0. Before planting in-ground, improve the existing soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter. For best results, feed regularly with a water-soluble plant food. Keep soil moist and water when the top inch of soil becomes dry.

Thyme is an effective herbal tea ingredient that calms stomach problems and sore throat. Use its leaves to prepare tea, and if there are flowers, add them too. Thyme is easily dried, refrigerated, frozen, or preserved in oil or vinegar. The tiny leaves air-dry quickly. Add thyme to butter or mayonnaise to taste. Use thyme in dried beans, meat stews, and strong vegetables such as cabbage. Thyme is also great with any slowly cooked soup, stew, vegetable, meat, or sauce. Use lemon thyme in teas, on seafood, or in just about any dish calling for a lemony zing.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): grows from 1-5 feet tall, and has many rough, hairy stems sprouting from a rhizomatous root. Bipinnate leaves branch off the stem in a spiral pattern with larger leaves at the base of the plant and smaller leaves at the top. The leaves are finely segmented giving them a feathery look, and the creamy white, daisy-like flowers grow in flattened, terminal, loose heads, or cymes.

Yarrow can be used in fresh or dried form in teas, tinctures, oils, salves, and syrups. Rosemary Gladstar suggests using yarrow to increase circulation in order to open the pores and induce sweating as a way to gently lower body temperature. She also suggests it as a first-aid herb to slow internal and external bleeding, to relax cramping of the digestive and reproductive organs, and as an antiseptic wash for wounds.



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