Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer

Half a Hundred Herbs Week 28 – Hyssop

pink hysspoHyssop is a relative of rosemary and lavender, which means it is strongly scented, and likes things hot and dry, and not too rich. For years I had problems with it dying off over the winter, because it got too wet underfoot for its liking, so now I make sure I have plants overwintering in the greenhouse, where I treat it mean – cold doesn’t seem to bother it too much, – and move it outside when the weather improves. The flowers are long-lasting, and come in blue and white as well as pink. And bees love them.

The taste is something else again, a bitter, tangy, minty dark taste that I’m not too sure what to do with. It is supposed to ‘cut the richness’ of meat like pork or game, and it is an ingredient of chartreuse, not that I’m likely to try that any time soon. medicinally it ‘cures upset stomachs’, reducing flatulence, and I suspect, is just what you need for a night of over-indulgence. The Bible doesn’t exhort you to purge yourself with hyssop for nothing! I’m going by notes in the herbal I started when I was sixteen, and I think, from it’s recommendations for herb tea with honey for coughs, catarrh and rheumatism, it must have some anti-inflammatory properties.

I bought a blue hyssop and took cuttings earlier this year. They’ve done well:

blue hyssop and so have the mixed seedlings I sowed in April, though the slugs have had more than their share. I’m hoping that there will be some white ones among them, which I can use in the world’s smallest knot garden. I’ll be planting that in September, so watch out fot those photos!mixed hyssop






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