An herb garden is twice blessed, for you can give as much as you receive from it.
Here are some suggestions for using your herbs in many delightful and unusual ways. Remember that many flowers, too, are herbs; so do not be surprised to find roses, violets and other blossoms among the suggested ingredients.
Remember when you harvested, you marked some of the herbs for potting. Of these, some you planned to keep for your own enjoyment, the others to put back into your herb garden next spring. You probably will want to pot some herbs for gifts. Be as generous as you can, for you will be delighted at the pleasure they will bring. House plants make cherished prizes and imaginative gifts at any time.
A friend in the hospital will enjoy a plant that is not only lovely to look at, but also fragrant to smell and delicious to nibble. Potted herbs are among the best sellers at bazaars and benefits. Get small plastic pots and use some of the smaller plants for this purpose. As the giver you, too, will profit from this project, for you can enjoy the herbs lined up on the window sill as they await gift days.
Many years ago costmary was known as “Bible leaf” because of the custom of using it as a bookmark in Bibles and prayer books.
Costmary, or any large fragrant leaves such as those of rose geranium, tansy, lemon verbena, or borage, still make charming bookmarks. If, like the women of olden days, you wish them chiefly for fragrance, then press and mount them on cards. Done this way, however, the herbs will soon crumble, so when making bookmarks for gifts, it is better to press them between blotters or tissues between the pages of a heavy book.
When the leaves are dry, place them between two pieces of heavy transparent plastic cut to the size and shape you wish. It is safest to anchor the herb with a bit of glue before putting the second piece of plastic in place. Either seal with glue or punch holes around the edges and lace with yarn or embroidery floss. I prefer the bookmarks which are laced together, so that some of the fragrance can escape. This is a project which your children will enjoy.
Place Cards and Tallies
For a dinner, luncheon or card party you can make attractive place cards and tallies decorated with herbs. Cut plain cards twice the size you wish them to be when finished and fold in the center. On the outside cut a slit and insert a sprig of fresh or dried herb; you can attach the spray to the card with transparent tape of you prefer.
You can make a place card which doubles as a favor by attaching a sachet to a card. For benefits or bazaars, package these in sets of eight or twelve.
A quaint name for these bouquets is ‘tussie-mussies. ” For centuries they have been carried by those participating in the coronation ceremonies in England. Elizabeth II was handed a tussie-mussie as she entered Westminster Abbey. Long ago they were no doubt carried to ward off germs and to counteract unpleasant smells resulting from lack of adequate ventilation and plumbing. Today, however, tussie-mussies are valued for the sentiment of the meaning attached to the various herbs and for their charm in appearance and fragrance.
In the 15th century a favorite tussie-mussie was made of marigold (for happiness) and heartsease (for remembrance). Others were often used also. For example:
A red rosebud surrounded by forget-me-nots and southernwood signified undying devotion, remembrance and constancy.
A spray of bee balm, southernwood and Bible leaf (costmary) was tucked into the bodice of the Sabbath gown to be sniffed during the long Sunday church service.
Sage with white and gold camomile flowers symbolized long life, wisdom and patience.