5 Botanical Allies for Winter Wellness
By Sara Stewart Martinelli:
If you want to have a garden that’s both beautiful and useful, there are countless plants that can be strong botanical allies when dealing with the colds and flus of winter. Each of the below herbs can be easily dried by hanging, then stored for winter use to make teas. Even better, they can be blended to make an almost endless variety of personalized teas.
All of these plants should be easy to find in the spring and, with minimal care, should grace your garden for years to come. Enjoy their gifts!
1. Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)
Easy to grow, traditional marshmallow makes a statement in the garden with its long stalks of soft downy leaves and delicate light pink flowers. The dried leaves are full of mucilage and make an excellent remedy for irritated tissues of the digestive, respiratory, or urinary system. The plant needs moisture and sun.
2. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
With enthusiastic abundance, lemon balm will rampage through your garden like all of its other mint cousins. It’s a good thing the plant is so attractive, aromatic, and useful! Dried lemon balm leaves create a tea that has both anti-bacterial and anti-viral actions, and additionally helps to soothe the nervous and digestive systems. For a relaxing, soothing, and health promoting tea, lemon balm is a staple of the winter tea store. Plant it where you can appreciate its exuberant personality.
3. Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Hyssop is one of the lesser-known herbs because it’s rarely used for culinary or ornamental purposes, but it’s a must have for its winter medicine. Another member of the mint family, hyssop makes a tasty tea that is useful to alleviate the symptoms of cold, flu, congestion, and cough. Add honey to the tea for a soothing brew that will soothe a sore throat and calm a cough.
4. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Although rosemary can be a bit tough to grow in Colorado due to our dry and quickly changing climate, it’s the perfect herb to grow in a pot and bring indoors for the winter months. Use the needle-like leaves either fresh or dried for a great tasting tea that is both delicious and healing. The anti-bacterial properties make it a perfect ally for any cold or flu blend, and the strong aromatics help to clear congestion.
5. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Nothing beats echinacea in the garden. With tall, showy purple flowers, echinacea puts on a glorious display of color during the heat of the summer. Though the roots are the most effective, the leaves can be dried for a tea to brew at the first hint of illness. Echinacea helps boost the immune system and has a mild, pleasant flavor.
Sara Stewart Martinelli is a certified herbalist and professional tea blender. She owns five restaurants in the Boulder area and an organic farm. To learn more, visit www.threeleaffarm.com