Opportunity In Disguise

“Be careful what you wish for.” You might say my wish for more time to explore the things I love, minus the pandemic was granted. Although my heart goes out to those affected by the virus in any way, time to explore the many subjects associated with herbs has been plentiful. I have read books, articles, scientific papers, emails, and newsletters, gone on exciting virtual garden tours and herb walks, listened to podcasts, attended numerous webinars, zoom classes, and club meetings to my heart’s content.
Too much to share in one newsletter contribution, I hope some of what I write may interest you.

I’ll begin with tea. Tea recipes flooded my inbox daily. Teas for this or that, all to either soothe or lift your spirits during confinement. I found one particular tea, named the “last good nerve tea,” especially good hot or cold. Using garden herbs such as chamomile for stress, raspberry leaf, for its outstanding nutrients and vitamins, rose petals for floral notes and cinnamon for a sweet-spicy taste, it’s the perfect daily beverage.

Combine 1 T. each of chamomile flower, dried raspberry leaf, 2 T. organic rose petals, 1 Tsp. lemon balm leaf and 1⁄2 Tsp. cinnamon chips in a clean glass jar. Use 1 T. of herb mix to 1 C. boiling water. Steep for 5 min. Give it a try.

Stress relief brings me to the latest statistics which have shown sales of all things lavender are through the roof this year. It has been a good growing season for lavenders and their growers. Lavender’s calming properties have caused sales to triple during the pandemic. It continues to be a staple in my garden and around my house. Experimenting with different varieties is ongoing. If you grow it, share it with friends and neighbors. Help them stay calm.

Apparently bees love Covid-19, as does the whole natural world. Scientists and beekeepers have noted that bees have built beautiful honeycombs which they are packing full of an amazing amount of nectar. While we are not in our vehicles, the air is cleaner. Bee deaths are down, hives are healthier, floral aromas are stronger, so foraging is easier. Look forward to some great herbal honey this year!

Continuing to build my pollinator garden, my focus has turned to our native bees. Since I first saw a mason bee smash into a flower instead of landing gently to gather nectar, my interest piqued. Native bees don’t sting. No hives needed; they’re loners. All you need to start raising these bees are cute tubular homes strategically placed to face the morning sun with some afternoon shade.

I also crafted with botanical sun prints.
Once popular in Victorian Eng- land, sun prints, or cyanotypes are actually the first botanical blueprints. In a tray, arrange herbs on cyanotype (light-sensitive) paper (from Amazon), cover with acrylic or sheet of glass, exposed to bright sunlight for 2-5 minutes. Remove glass, pour water over your creation, rinsing for a few seconds, hang to dry and you will have a beautiful blue herb image, while the rest of the paper turns white.
I framed mine.

Try to look at this pandemic in a different light. It can be a time for observation, creating and broadening your mind. . . an opportunity in disguise. Please stay healthy and stay herbal.

By Cheryl Balster