Clary sage and columbine

Aquilegia vulgaris podsIt’s been so long since I posted, but I want to get back into the swing of things. I’m going to be writing shorter posts for a while, just stuff I’m doing day to day. This morning I harvested a bunch of columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) seeds from my garden. I love the way the seedpods look – they remind me of the hands of Thai temple dancers. Here they are leaning over a self-seeded patch of Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkakengi v. gigantea) and a little lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) here and there. This year I’m going to try the berries inside the Chinese lantern pods for taste. They are edible, related to the ground cherry, but many members of that family produce berries that are either insipid or kind of funky. I hope I will be adding seeds for Aunt Molly groundcherry this fall. That variety tastes pretty darn good, like pina colada.

Clary sage tinctureI also strained a clary sage (Salvia sclarea) tincture I made for a friend. I used 95% alcohol on this, because it works so quickly and really extracts almost everything from the plant material. I love the color of a clary sage tincture. It’s interesting how different herb tinctures turn out to be different colors. I just made a bunch of mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) tincture also, and in contrast, it is a dark green, almost the color of old-fashioned fatigues. And the henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) tincture I made is a greyish green, the color of forest gloom. Clary sage leaves are quite beautiful. I think I like them more than even the showy bracts (“flowers”). This is a plant that deserves a place in any witch’s garden. Just finished what I hope are the final edits on the clary sage chapter in my book. I took the opportunity to discuss tincturing in that chapter and covered a number of menstrua that are not usually discussed or even mentioned in witchcraft writings – wine and vinegar – and some other tips. A little more advanced than the Witchcraft 101 approach.

Campanula or Adenophora who knowsI’m so enjoying my garden this year. I’ve got lots more in pots, including several different species of belladonna and henbane, and the perennials came back full blast, especially the valerian. Now that is turning to seed and the ladybells are blooming.  I have no idea where I got the ladybells–they might be from an old pack of rampion I tossed. Some people really hate them because of the way they spread, but they don’t seem too evil in my garden, and the bees love them–and so do I. I have always been fond of bell-shaped flowers. The queen of the meadow (Eupatorium purpureum) and the wild sunflowers (Helianthus maximillianii) are getting really tall. I am looking forward to their blooms. Hope your summer garden is making you happy!

2 comments to Clary sage and columbine

  • You’re writing a book? Ooohh that sounds fantastic. I love the colour of the Clary Sage tincture too, it’s lush, green and positively screams summer. I’m going to try and get some Clary Sage up and growing. My project for the next six months is to try and get my herbal garden to where I dream it will be.

    • Alchemist in Charge

      Sounds like a neat project. I have been living here for seven years and I feel like my garden is close to where I want it to be. Had a good year in terms of flowers so far. I hope I will finally have the book done this October.

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