June Wedding Herbs – Part I…

June is traditionally thought of as the “wedding month”. With that in mind here are some traditional June wedding herbs to plant, grow, harvest and even include in a wedding bouquet.

angelica Angelica –Angelica is a biennial perennial herb; meaning that it grows the first year and flowers in the second year. It will thrive for several more years if you clip off the flower stems before they bloom. The yellowish green leaves are large, becoming about 0.7-1m long, and are divided into 3 leaflets with toothed edges. Greenish white flowers bloom in umbrella like clusters at the ends of the bloom stalks which are 1-1.5m tall, hollow, and stiff.

Angelica likes moist, rich soil that is slightly acid, growing best in semi-shade. It can be grown from seeds, but they must be sown within a few weeks after ripening or they lose their ability to germinate. If you allow seeds to ripen on the stems, they will self sow readily. You also can propagate angelica from root cuttings.

In some Neo-Pagan new age beliefs, such as Wicca, Angelica is used to promote healing & protection against negative energies. It is used in herbal baths to remove curses and in Purification spells. The sprinkling of it all around the outside of the home is meant for protection, and it can be used in Neo-Pagan forms of healing or exorcism incense. Angelica is a common herb found in a “Witch’s Garden”.

image Elder – (Elderberries) – Elderberry bushes produce bluish-black fruit in bunches of little berries that are used in wines, juices, jellies and jams. The berries themselves are quite bitter, so they are rarely ever eaten by themselves. Growing elderberries is not all that difficult. They can tolerate different conditions such as soil that is in poor condition or soil that is too wet. However, they are not appreciative of a drought.

Elderberries require a cross-pollinator. Be sure you plant two or more cultivars near each other.

The plants prefer a well-drained loamy soil. Sandy soils require organic matter to be added, so plan on adding things if you have to. Plant them approximately 3 feet apart in rows that are four to five yards apart.

Berries will grow on the bushes the first year you plant them, but  will do  better the second year  and beyond. The first two years after planting elderberry bushes, you should let them grow wildly. Do not prune and do not bother picking the berries. After that, you can prune the elderberry bushes in the early spring by cutting them back and removing all the dead areas. This way, the bushes will grow and produce a lot of berries for you.

The folklore regarding the Elder can be wildly conflicting depending on the region. In some areas, the “elder tree” was supposed to ward off evil influence and give protection from witches, while other beliefs say that witches would often congregate under the plant, especially when it is full of fruit.

In some regions, superstition, religious belief, or tradition prohibits the cutting of certain trees for bonfires, most notably in witchcraft customs the elderberry tree; “Elder be ye Lady’s tree, burn it not or cursed ye’ll be” – A rhyme from the Wiccan rede.

image Feverfew – Feverfew is a perennial plant and is actually a species of chrysanthemum that has been grown in herb and medicinal gardens for centuries.

Seeds for growing feverfew herb are readily available through catalogs or found in the seed racks of local garden centers. 

The seeds are very fine and most easily planted in small peat pots filled with damp, loamy soil. Sprinkle a few seeds into the pot and tap the bottom of the pot on the counter to settle the seeds into the soil. Spray water to keep the seeds moist as poured water may dislodge the seeds.

When placed in a sunny window or under a grow light, you should be seeing signs of the feverfew seeds germinating in about two weeks. When the plants are about three inches tall, plant them, pot and all, into a sunny garden spot and water regularly until the roots take hold.

Cut it back to the ground after frost and watch for it to re-grow in the spring. It re-seeds fairly easily, so you might find yourself giving away new plants within a couple of years.

To the untrained eye this herb looks a lot like Chamomile, except its flowers are not conical but rather flat-topped and its leaves resemble those of Coriander. They have a peculiar, strongly aromatic but not exactly pleasant smell, which is why bees avoid it and it is generally very useful as an insect repellent.

Feverfew is planted around the house for purification and protection.  An amulet of feverfew can be worn to prevent all afflictions to the head and to keep one’s bearings straight.

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