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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Tudor Apothecary Garden: Pot Marigolds

Today, I felt like making some flowers. I had seen an excellent tutorial in AIM Magazine On-Line for making marigolds, which some of us know better as calendulas or pot marigolds. This plant's flowers are edible, which is why they are known as pot marigolds, but they were also an integral part of any medicinal garden in the medieval period.

The Latin name is Calendula officinalis, and the medicinal parts include the leaves and flowers. They were used as teas a wide variety of stomach ailments, for intestinal disturbances, against vomiting, fever, boils and abscesses, while a salve made from them was used for bruises, sprains and wart removal. Very useful, thus a patch is required in the eventual Apothecary Garden.

There are already some other plants I've made for the garden, mostly from kits I acquired in the UK and The Netherlands two years ago.

The tall plants at the back, which need an awful lot of hand-cut leaves still, are mullein or verbascum, useful against coughs, spitting blood, gripe and colic, while the fuzzy gray leaves were applied to wounds that were difficult to heal. The dark red plants at the left are black hellebore, which can be a serious poison but it is also used for heart ailments. Then we have dark pink coneflower, which pretty much everyone now knows as Echinacea, used for coughs these days, but originally it was used as a blood-purifier. The little plants in the foreground are lily of the valley; I am not entirely happy with the way they turned out, and will likely make them to my own design. Again, this plant is poisonous, but it has long been used medically in very small quantities.

Looking up medicinal plants is very interesting, and translating them into miniatures made of paper, wire, glue and sand is a challenge. The biggest challenge facing me is making up the foxglove kit; this requires me to roll teeny tiny hearts into a lipped tube shape with spots on the lip. Probably it will be one of the last kits to be made up!

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