Our mint list includes Lemon Bergamot and Orange Bergamot, and, yet neither is really a
Bergamot. Bergamot has come to mean citrus like after the true source of
Bergamot oil the tree Citrus aurantium bergmania commonly called the Bergamot
Orange. Bee Balms, or Monardas, are also called Bergamots for the same citrus
essence found in their oils. It is the Orange Bergamot tree that gives Earl Grey
Tea that special tang. Make a similar intoxicating brew by adding a bit of Orange
Mint to your tea.
Probably the most
important chemical reaction in the world. Using the carbon dioxide we breathe
out and water, plants make their food and our oxygen. Only plants containing the
green material chlorophyll can carry on photosynthesis. That is why variegated
plants are often slower growing or less vigorous than their all green counterparts. The
white or gold parts of the variegated leaf make less contribution to the health
and growth of the plant.
TOMENTOSE: Densely Woolly with matted hairs.
(Sounds a lot like Herb in the morning). In the botanical name for
we have the species name LANATA which means woolly. Tomentose must be an
advanced case of lanata. An odd thing about tomentose plants is that they are
very drought resistant.
PREBIOTIC: A food, like
chicory, that nourishes the good
bacteria that are already in the digestive system, causing them to grow. While
PROBIOTICS are live, active cultures of NECESSARY bacteria that are actually
ingested. An example of a food with probiotics is LIVE CULTURE yogurt.
A small garden tended by the housewife and her maids. From its worts (plants)
were made electuaries, which were the soothing herb-and-honey medicinals; robs
(rubs), hot drinks, salves, sweet washing waters, perfumes and other
"conceits." This definition comes from Helen Noyes Webster in
her book of 1939 simply titled Herbs. She was describing the colonial
gardens of America and the transfer of the still-room from England to America.
FINES HERBES: Thyme, along with
Bay and Parsley, is
one of the three traditional herbs used in Fines Herbes, a mixture
of fresh herbs usually added at the end of cooking. While the amount of each
herb varies, parsley is usually used in greater amounts because Thyme and
Bay are very strong. Today, these little bundles of cooking herbs may also
include three or four of the following: Basil, Chervil, Chives, Marjoram,
Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon. These are usually tied together and
removed later or chopped very fine and left to stew.
These cooking posies are not to be confused with
Bouquet Garni; the cheesecloth herbs. These herbs
can be used fresh or dried and sometimes include spices. Cooked in the dish in
their little bag, they are removed and discarded before serving the dish.
condensed water that is left behind when plants are steam distilled to make
essential oil. A little like waters made from roses and lavenders and
other herbs, except more pure and a little more concentrated. You can make
your own waters, just by steeping an herb in warm water and straining.
DORMANT BUD AND RESTING BUD:
not referring to your next door neighbors here, but to the buds that are coming
alive as spring weather urges them to wake up. Resting Buds are awakened
when their development is finished and other conditions are met. Dormant Buds
wake up when the weather warms up. At least they can wake up. Latent Buds
can be doomed to a non existence existence. These buds usually do not appear
unless the plant is pruned. Sometimes they are on very old wood and you really
can't tell they are there. Buds are held on twigs (of course) and there are a
couple of terms that refer to how the buds are held on these twigs. Terminal
buds are at the top and lateral buds are on the sides. Cut out the
top bud and the side buds shoot out. The bud on top has a rough time staying
there on most of my plants. Because pruning makes for healthy plants and bushy
buds. Wonder if that would work on the neighbors?
Knot Gardens are parterres, but not all parterres form a knot. The name
parterre (pronounced PAR - tare) is from Old French 'par terre' literally
translated 'on the ground'. It is a flower garden having the beds and paths
arranged to form a pattern. This precise and informative definition comes to us
from the site of
On this site you can visit their knot garden and their parterre. You can tell
someone has been pruning, pruning, pruning. (Just can't seem to get past all
ENTOMOLOGIST: A person who studies Odonta
(dragonflies) and Ephemeroptera (Mayflies). A bug guy/gal.
Here is a very interesting source of information on bugs with some great photos
COLORS IN CODE: You can probably guess that
the purpurea in Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) means purple. Here are some other
coded messages you might find affixed to the botanical names of plants. The
pronunciation follows each word in parenthesis.
coccinea (coe-sin'ee-a) means scarlet
coeruleum (see-rue'lee-um) means blue
flavum (flay'vum) means nearly pure
haematodes (he-ma-toe'dees) means blood
lutescens (loo-tes'sens) means becoming
nivalis (niv-aye'lis) means snow white
or growing near snow
niveum (niv'ee-um) also means snow white
punctata (punk-tay'ta) means the seven
dwarfs---just kidding--- it means dotted
rutilans (rue-ti-lans) means glowing
sanguinea (san-gwin'ee-a) means blood
virens (vie-renz) means green
virginale (vur-gin-ay'lee) means white
toxic substance, a napthaquinone (science talk), that has been
found in all parts of plants in the Walnut family, which includes walnuts,
pecans and hickories. Here is a clear cut case of which came first the Walnut or
the Juglone. The botanical name for the Walnut family is Jugandacea. While both
were created at the same time, man obviously named juglone after discovering the
toxic substance in the walnut tree
whose name was given to it long before there were laboratories.
training of living trees and shrubs into artificial, decorative shapes. Densely
leaved evergreen shrubs are used in topiary; the best subjects are box, cypress,
and yew, although others--such as rosemary,
myrtle, holly, and box honeysuckle--are used
HIGH TEA: A tradition started in the late 1600's to
stave off hunger pains until dinner was served. Dinner was usually late.
Probably because they were all full from High Tea. Both the " beautiful bread" scones and crumpets are
traditional accompaniments with High Tea but usually something a little more
substantial is provided as well, like a little Welsh
SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE and SODIUM LAUREL
These are derived from petroleum and cause
foaming. They don't necessarily clean anything they just make it look like the
soap is working. These are really pretty harsh on the skin. These were the two
ingredients that used to be impossible to get away from in shampoo. Sometimes
there are a lot of natural herb extracts on the label before these, but keep
looking one of these will be there somewhere. Notice the company your
shampoo keeps. Maybe we should save the foam for the beer. What do you
Plants that have common origin
and similar characteristics. For instance, Lavenders Hidcote,
Davis are all Lavandula angustifolia cultivars. They come from Lavandula
angustifolia plants and have similar but not identical traits, Jean Davis is a
pink form and Munstead is a light purple.
(And we don't mean that stuff from the gas station) Water
between cells that is released when freezing occurs. This is what toasts your tender
plants. This is also what causes a lot of spring damage to new shoots that emerge during
nice weather and then get their water frozen in an end of the season frost. Bound Water is
the water that is held in the cell. One thing you can do to decrease the damage of cold
weather is to harden the cells so they don't let so much free water wander between them.
This means if you cut back on the fertilizing in late summer and the over watering in
fall, your plants will do better when freezing weather hits. Free Water seems like it cost
a lot to me.
The A HORIZON:
The upper layer of soil( there are also B and C
Horizon) which should be rich with humus and a dark brown to black
color. This is the layer the bulldozer moved to build your house. This is also
the layer most often destroyed by poor gardening practices such as chemical
fertilization and applications of herbicide.
HARDINESS: That quality which causes
plants to resist injury from unfavorable temperature. This term is often misunderstood. It
has nothing to do with the actual vitality of a plant or its ability to withstand sun or
drought. Hardiness deals only with the minimum winter temperature that a plant can
withstand. If I were a plant my hardiness level would be somewhere around zone Caribbean.
LIGHT INTENSITY: The quantity of light that affects how the
plant grows. For plants that grow in full sun there are often several layers of food
making cells, which causes the plant to grow faster. In the shade with less quantity of
light, there are fewer layers of food making cells. Plus, these cells are more succulent.
This is why lettuce, for instance, grown in a foggy coastal environment gets larger than
that grown in my full sun garden.
PARTS OF A STEM: 1.
xylem (pronounced zeye lum) makes up most of the stem and carries the
water and food from the root to the top part of the plant , 2. phloem
(pronounced flow um) is part of the bark of the stem and carries food up and
down 3. cambium (pronounced came be um) is
where all the growing is going on. The cells found
on the inside of the cambium become xylem and those on the outside become
phloem. It is like a big sandwich, with xylem as one bun and phloem as another
and cambium as the peanut butter in between. These parts are found in both woody
and herbaceous stems though not arranged the same way. Woody stems are easy to
tell, they are, well, woody and hard and usually brown, like in trees.
Herbaceous stems are soft and succulent and tend to die back to the ground in
cold winters, like scented geraniums.
Why is it we have to have so many names
for the same thing? Stems that aren't quite
normal (or modified) are given many different names, like
rhizomes, which are thick
underground stems that can make roots and shoots (Mint is famous for these);
corms, which are round stems that are used
for food storage (Saffron comes from the Crocus corm); bulbs,
which are also round stem storage facilities but can be distinguished from corms
by the layers of leaves around them (like our healthy Garlic bulbs); and finally,
tubers, which are irregularly-shaped, swollen underground
stems that both store food and contain reproductive powers (the most famous is
the root vegetable, the potato, which is not a root at all, but a tuber--or
modified stem). And, don't forget
the thorns and tendrils
which are really just more modified stems.
STOMATE: Tiny pores in
leaves that allow gaseous exchanges. These are on the under sides of leaves and
they are what let the plant breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen.
Isn't it nifty that we do just the opposite during our gaseous exchanges?
THE VAPOURS: What all the
ladies used to get. Men could get them too, but they weren't allowed to admit
it. It is an old term that referred to the blues, even to the point of
severe depression or hysteria. Good thing the term fell out of use. Just
wouldn't sound right singing the vapours?
ABSCISSION LAYER: Question:
Why is it that we are always warned about gouging trunks of trees and leaving
holes for disease to enter and yet leaves pull off trees every year with
abandon? It is because of the abscission layer. At the base of the leaf stem are
super cells that grow really fast as winter approaches to close the hole left by
the falling leaf. Mother Nature thought of everything.
ESSENTIAL OIL: When is an oil not an oil? When it is an essential oil.
Really the term essence seems more appropriate. Those tiny little vials termed essential
oils are really the pure plant parts with nothing added. Usually they get these by
some kind of distillation process like steam. It takes a lot of plant to make a little bit
of essence. Be careful not to leave the lid off because they evaporate (ever see an oil
evaporate?) Infused Oil: This really is an oil. It is made by pressing or steeping herbs
in an oil either hot or cold. Sometimes the essential essence is added to the infused oil
to give it a boost. And while we can make infused oils at home (see The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
for instructions on how to make infused oils) and use them almost like essential oils,
there is a difference. Quality essential oils are checked for their specific chemical
components to make sure they are what they should be when we use them for what we use them
for. And, for that you need to read this weeks book selection, The Encyclopedia of
CHEMICAL LEAVENING AGENTS:
These are used in commercial baking powders. These include Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum
Phosphate (which is also used in cement, ink and explosives) and Monocalcium
Phosphate (which is also use in fertilizer and paint). Don't think Herb will
find any of these in his garden either.
AEROBIC AND ANAEROBIC COMPOST:
know from all those work out books and tapes that are stored somewhere in the
garage that aerobic means with air. It doesn't take a giant leap to figure out anaerobic
means without air. In compost, it means speed. Compost that is aerobic breaks
down faster because the bacteria that do the chewing up of those big
banana peels you threw in the pile like the air (me too). Compost that is
anaerobic, like at the city dump where it is buried and left alone, may never
decompose or at the very least takes a lot longer. That is why plastic that is buried
will be around for a long time under the sands of the dump, but the plastic on
the greenhouse degrades into little tiny shreds. Kind of seems backwards if you
buds inside seed organs without fertilization. A neat trick!
BUD BREAK: Resting Buds resume growth.
So that's a bud break!
CALLUS: Wound tissue which develops
from cambium or other exposed meristem ( Cambium and Meristem are the parts
of the plant that make new cells.
FLOWER MEANINGS: The Victorians
were so romantic they gave meanings to everything. Here are a few herbs and
what they meant.
Angelica stands for inspiration (if you ever tried
to germinate Angelica seeds you know you have to be inspired to keep at it).
Basil stands for good wishes. You will need good
wishes ( or some row cover) to keep the bugs from enjoying the basil before
Chamomile stands for patience,
especially if you are trying to make a lawn like all the books show.
ADAPTOGENIC: Helps the body to adapt
to stress and supports normal function. Amen to that!
ZEST: The flavorful colored skin of
the citrus fruits, minus the white underlying pith, which is bitter. It may
be grated or peeled and then minced or julienne. Just make sure it is from
AUXIN: Natural hormone produced in the
apical regions (the tips of the stems). Auxin inhibits growth of lateral
buds (those on the sides of the stem). This is why when you cut the top of
the stem, the side shoots grow.
GENUS: For instance, in a
(Capparis spinoza) the genus is Capparis, which just happens to mean Caper
in Greek. Just for your information, the plural of Genus is Genera.
SPECIES: There may be
more than one Capparis (a genus name) and maybe they don't all have flower buds we want to
pickle so we make a further designation to get the right plant. In this
case, it is spinoza, which as you can probably guess means spiny. So we know
when we see Capparis spinoza we are getting the one and only Caper Bush.
Just for your information, the species name is never capitalized.
CARBOHYDRATE: For plants this means
energy (just like it does for humans).
carbs are not used right away they are turned to sugars and saved for future
growth (for humans this means fat).
plant uses the sugar. Plants know when they need to make more carbohydrates
and don't ever store too much sugar. (Definitely not like humans) Are plants
smarter than humans? Scary, huh?
SARDONIC: Derived from the Greek Sardonios which means bitter or
scornful laughter: the primary reference is to the effects of eating a Sardinian
plant which was said to produce facial convulsions resembling horrible laughter,
usually followed by death.
The French term for herbs bundled together. A
traditional combination is 3 sprigs of parsley, 1 bay leaf and 1 sprig of
thyme. The milder the herb the more you use. The bigger the pot of soup the
bigger the Bouquet Garni.