Friday, March 29, 2013

Award-winning Historical Romance Into the Lion's Heart On Sale!



IntotheLionsHeartI’m best known for my Native American themed historicals and time travels, but am even more versatile than that. My often overlooked historical romance Into the Lion’s Heart is set in Georgian England (1789) at the explosion of the French Revolution.
This  novella took as much research as a full novel and I labored long and hard over it. The story kicked off the historical romance line by The Wild Rose Press called Love Letters. The idea behind the line is that a letter is responsible for bringing the hero and heroine together. Amazing how many ways this can happen. And, of course, I’m rather taken with my particular twist.
The connection I feel to the past and those who’ve gone before me, especially after doing a lot of research into family genealogy, are the ongoing inspiration behind my work. I come from a lot of well documented English, Scots, and Scots-Irish people, with a smidgen of French in the meld–a Norman knight who sailed with William the Conqueror on the Rowland side. One line of the family goes directly back to Geoffrey Chaucer, all fascinating and compelling to me. In my first English historical, I more deeply explored my British ancestry.
Captain Dalton EvansStory Blurb:
Will the English captain save a woman the French Revolution would devour when he knows the truth?
As the French Revolution rages, the English nobility offer sanctuary to many a refugee. Captain Dalton Evans arrives in Dover to meet a distant cousin, expecting to see a spoiled aristocrat. Instead, he’s conquered by the simplicity of his new charge. And his best friend Thomas Archer isn’t immune to her artless charm, either.

Cecile Beaumont didn’t choose to travel across the Channel. And she certainly didn’t expect that impersonating her own mistress would introduce her to a most mesmerizing man. Now she must play out the masquerade, or risk life, freedom – and her heart.
2012 Reader’s Favorite Finalist
“This is a brilliant historical romance by Beth Trissel. You can feel her passion in the story, very well written and characters that you can feel. Into the Lion’s Heart will take you through a journey of love, and enough surprises to keep you hanging on. If you love a beautiful historical romance you will enjoy this story!” Rating: 5 out of 5 stars  Reviewer: Wanda for Romance Writers Reviews
“Into The Lions Heart is a historical romance novelette that is sure to delight the fancy of those who read this genre… If you have never read any of Beth Trissel’s books, this will be a great start and make you want to read more. I have always liked her style of writing and hope she does not change.” Rating: 5 out of 5 stars Reviewed by Lynn F. for Readers Favorite

clipper ship“I simply adored INTO THE LION’S HEART by Beth Trissel. I’m not an avid reader of historical romances or even the simply sweet romances, but this tale kissed a delicate smile on my face and I have to admit, my heart melted. Not only was the writing superb and in context with the time and place, but the plot itself was very well done.”  ~Five out of five stars and a Top Pick from The Romance Reviews, Reviewed by Erinne 




rosevine-1
***For a limited time, Into the Lion’s Heart is reduced to .99 in Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s NookbookThe Wild Rose Press, and other online booksellers.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Suspenseful Scottish Time Travel Romance Somewhere My Lass A Kindle Daily Deal



somewhere_my_lass_resized 2To visit Kindle Nation Daily and see the post about Somewhere My Lass click HERE.
I’m delighted that my suspenseful and unusual Scottish time travel romance,Somewhere My Lass, is getting special notice. As of today, the novel has 22 five star reviews at Amazon.
Story Blurb:
Will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?
‘‘The MacDonald comes’ warns Mora Campbell when Neil MacKenzie finds the young Scotswoman lying unconscious at the top of his stairs after he discovers his murdered housekeeper slumped at the bottom. Mora’s claim that she’s his fiancé from 1602 and was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, through ‘the door to nowhere’ seems utter nonsense. Neil thinks she’s addled from the blow to her head until his life spirals into chaos and the avenging Highlander shows up wanting blood. Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past, but he must also remember. And fast.
Although Niall’s kinsmen believe he’s dead, and Mora is now destined to marry his brother, she’s convinced that if she and Neil return to the past, all will be right. The balance of the present and future are in peril if she marries another, and the Neil of the present will cease to exist. The only problem is how to get back to 1602. An ancient relic, the ultimate geek friend, and a little Celtic magic help pave the way back to the enormous challenge that awaits them. If they’re in time.~
***And YES, I am making headway on the sequel, Somewhere in the Highlands.
***To jump over to Amazon click HERE.

Monday, March 25, 2013

March in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia



daffodils in March snow“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~Charles Dickens,  To this famous quote I add, ‘and then it snowed.’
“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  ~Mark Twain
I heartily agree, and so I worked in my gardens on Saturday, quite mild out really, and daughter Elise  helped, which was greatly appreciated by this weary gardener. We got the peas and early greens…lettuce, bright lights Swiss chard, spinach, pok choy…plus radishes and assorted kinds of beets planted. *All heirloom seed. I added three Crimson rhubarb roots to the patch of red rhubarb. Only the traditional ‘been here forever’ green variety is reliably robust, but we keep trying. And then Sunday, Palm Sunday, (the little children were so precious at church waving their palms) it began to snow about mid afternoon. Same thing happened last Sunday. By this morning we have at least ten inches of the white stuff covering everything.
Elise went out yesterday with her camera at the start of the snow and took some lovely shots. Our old red barn with pussy willow in foreground.
snowy pussywillow by the old red barn on march 25
“Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, “An Easter Hym
I hope the snow clears out by next weekend, which is Easter. Too early this year for me, but there it is. And I do love Easter whenever it comes.
“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.” ~Ruth Stout
This is one of my most favorite spring quotes. I fully agree with Ruth Stout and have done so. I am also attempting to practice her no till gardening method. Image below of the seeds (packets are on the stakes) I planted on Saturday before Sunday’s snow with the pussy willow, wheelbarrow, and barn in the pic.
Seeds I planted the day before the snow on March 24th
“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” ~Proverb
“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  ~Doug Larson
Luca in the snow March 2013“Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment.”  ~Ellis Peters
“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”  ~Mark Twain (And so say all of us!)
“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring.  Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?”  ~Edward Giobbi
To this I add, I hope I will have help with my gardens. Image of our rescue farm dog, Luca, at the start of the snow. We have two rescue farm dogs.
“The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend.” ~Terri Guillemets
Amen to that!
pussywillow against the barn in March 25 snow
We rooted pussy willow shoots in the garden last spring and were amazed that they all took off, and now we have a dozen blooming willows to move and give away to good homes. Some we will plant by the farm pond, but they cannot remain where they are because pussy willows grow far too large, even when pruned to keep in a garden.
Oh look, it’s snowing again.
“Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there;
Tomorrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair,
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!”
~L.H. Bailey
“First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus —
Crocus.”  ~Lilja Rogers
snpw crocus on march 25th

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems." ~Rainer Maria Rilke









*Images of past springs in The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  
Photographs by my mom, Pat Churchman
"Where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing."
~Albert Laighton
"And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest."
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, "The Sensitive Plant"







*Virginia Bluebells in my garden, flowers given to me by my dear grandmother.
"I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring.  Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature's rebirth?"  ~Edward Giobbi
"The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day."
~Robert Frost







*Poppies and iris in the garden.
"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything."  ~William Shakespeare
"Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there;
Tomorrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair,
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!"
~L.H. Bailey
"If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
 and stay that way later in the fall."  ~Nadine Stair







*Country Lane in the valley.
"Spring in verses,
Verses in spring."
~Violet Gartenlicht
"Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; 
now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire."  ~Virgil







*A country roadside not far from our farm.
"The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring."
~Bern Williams
"Spring is when life's alive in everything."
~Christina Rossetti
"The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven--
All's right with the world!"
~Robert Browning

















*My parent's yard.
"A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King."
~Emily Dickinson
"Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil."
~Bishop Reginald Heber
"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils."
~William Wordsworth
















*Stone wall with daffodils at my parent's home


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

“The spring has sprung, the grass is rizz. I wonder where them birdies is?” ~A.A. Milne




Actually, the birds are singing away outside my door, but I like the quote and that's how it goes.To declare the Shenandoah Valley in the full bloom of spring is a tad premature, but we are poised to burst forth. The early plants already are. And, like the happy kitty above, I say bring it on! This has seemed an exceedingly long and tiresome winter.

The report on the seeds I've started in my little greenhouse is that many of them are coming up, though not all. It's said that parsley has to go to the devil and back again seven times (and he keeps some for himself) before those seedlings emerge. And I have more seeds I need to start. But I will. I'm using the large yogurt containers to begin the seeds and will transplant them into the small yogurt containers and whatever else I can find. I'm recycling, and we're eating a lot of yogurt these days, also begging the containers from friends and family. If the cost of shipping were cheaper I'd ask you to mail me yours. 

As to my gardens, before the snow that hit on Sunday and into Monday, I was able to work outdoors and pull a whole wheelbarrow full of overwintering weeds. Yes, they always manage to survive the harshest weather. I'm taking stock of what else made it through and considering which plants didn't and should be replaced or grow something different in that spot. I am expanding my herbs, so look for more fragrance this year. 

For those of you who love gardening and country life, I recommend my nonfiction book, Shenandoah Watercolors, was 2.99, now only .99 at Amazon. The book is also available in print with beautiful pics of the valley and mountains taken by my talented family. And Happy spring!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Signs of Spring in the Shenandoah Valley

Heavy wet snow fell last night and the trees are laden, my crocus buried. But late Saturday afternoon after the rain showers ended, the day turned mild and I pulled some overwintering weeds from one of my flower borders.  A whole wheelbarrow full. While happily bent to my labors, I heard the sweet trill of a meadowlark, my favorite songbird.  Silent today. But when the sun shines and the weather softens again, I will hear it sing. This crazy weather is typical of March in the Shenandoah Valley.  A cold snap follows on the heels of a wonderfully balmy day or two.  This March has been on the colder side and quite wet, which is just as well with our tendency toward summer droughts, so we'll take the moisture while we can. 


Ducks and geese love all the puddles that come with the rain, and our pond is finally full again after dwindling to a sad state in past summers. Happy quacks resound against the fussy geese fighting over nesting sites.  These battles, and the meadowlark singing, are among the first signs of spring. And the pussy willow blooming. I picked a lovely bouquet of pussy willow on Saturday too.

Back to the meadowlark, my goal is to ever actually see one of these elusive birds again. Theoretically  this shouldn't be such a challenge what with our meadows and all.  Once or twice, I’ve glimpsed a yellow flash  and spotted the bird perched on a fence post before it flew.  Mostly, they hide in the grass and skim away to another spot before I get a good look, calling all the while from various positions in the meadow. 
One spring daughter Elise and I were determined to track down the evasive songster and tenaciously followed its calls, even climbed over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture and picked our way along the little creek, but never caught up with that bird, or birds.  There may have been more than one.  So unless I catch another rare glimpse, I must content myself with their beautiful trills.  Birds like this need tall grasses and untidy hedge rows for nesting.  Bear that in mind in your own yard and garden.  Keeping everything trim and cultivated robs our feathered friends of habitat.  It’s also a good excuse for a less than perfectly kept landscape.    A little wilderness here and there is a good thing.
Images of early crocus before the snow and Elise and me on a walk about the farm, two years ago. A cow is saying hello. They follow us like pet dogs.
***We have the Eastern Meadowlark.  For more on that variety click here.
For more on the Western Meadowlark~
*Royalty free Image of meadowlark–until we can finally photograph one.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Herb Gardens of Colonial America and Williamsburg

Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?” ~ Old English proverb

"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden." ~Thomas Jefferson


As much as I converse with sages and heroes, they have very little of my love and admiration. I long for rural and domestic scene, for the warbling of birds and the prattling of my children.  ~John Adams

"Though an old man, I am but a young gardener."~Thomas Jefferson

"Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God." 


I love old-fashioned gardens, particularly those with herbs. I grow many heirloom flowers and herbs, even included a lovely garden in my Colonial American historical romance novel set during the American RevolutionEnemy of the King.

Herbs and old-time flowers are in all my stories, more or less,  but back to the plants. (Image from our garden.  Photo by daughter Elise, as are all others taken of our garden from last year before the big wind tore through and knocked everything down. I'll have to discover whether any of these heirloom apricot hollyhocks survived later this spring.)

Not only were the colonists acquiring native plants and the knowledge of their uses from American Indians, but they brought cherished plants with them from The Old World (seeds, rootstock).  By the mid to latter 1700′s, the variety of herbs and vegetables grown encompassed all those known to the Western World–or potentially could have.

The colonial kitchen garden was planted outside the back door, so these vital herbs were at the ready.  In addition to using the herbs fresh, many plants were bound together in bunches and hung upside down to dry from the kitchen rafters.  Dried roots were stored for later use. Tinctures and decoctions made from plant leaves and stems were administered in liquid form.


“Throughout colonial New England, on rural farms and in small villages, the dooryard was the focal point for many daily projects. Generally sited to receive the warm southern sun, and protected by the barn and other outbuildings from bitter northwest winds, this area was used for such activities as washing clothes, making soap and candles, chopping wood and processing meat.

The colonial woman’s dooryard garden, along with her larger vegetable gardens, was expected to provide many of the foods, flavorings, medicines and chemicals necessary for a largely self-sufficient household with little cash. Plants such as madder and woad were used to dye cloth, southernwood and pennyroyal served as insect repellents, basil and sage improved and sometimes masked the flavors of food. Since most households were isolated from medical care, herbs such as yarrow, angelica, feverfew and valerian were used to treat common ailments or aided in childbirth.”~


*For more on planting your own dooryard garden refer to the informative link above.


I’ve read of tansy grown outside the back door to repel ants from coming into colonial homes.  Tansy is an attractive, robust herb with gold button flowers.  Be warned that it needs space, forming dense clumps. The sap attracts ants so maybe the idea is the ants cluster around the tansy and stay out of the house.
Imagine the rich blend of fragrances in a colonial kitchen, the spicy scent of  dried herbs mingled with wood smoke from the hearth, the stew simmering in a big iron kettle and savory meat roasting over the flames. Delightful.  Also mentioned in my Colonial American romance novel as well as some herbal cures and treatments.


Colonists often mentioned what plants they were growing when they wrote to friends and relatives back home in Europe. Many of these letters survive and have served as a guide to planting the reconstructed gardens. Archaeologists have found seeds from some of the original plants in Williamsburg, and can do soil analysis to tell exactly what type of plant was grown in a particular spot. While most of the trees, shrubs and plants seen today in Williamsburg are authentic to the Colonial period, astute observers will notice an abundance of crepe myrtles, pruned as trees in the Southern tradition. That’s because John D. Rockefeller, who financed the restoration, loved crepe myrtles and wanted them in the restored city. And since he was paying the bills …”

“Many of Williamsburg’s gardens reflect the Dutch-English patterns, popular during the reign of William and Mary. This garden style, characterized by geometric symmetry within an enclosed space, was common in England in the late 17th and early 18th century. The emerging trend toward naturalistic gardens in contemporary England did not appeal to the settlers in Virginia, where a natural landscape did not need to be re-created. To them, a garden was nature tamed, trimmed and enclosed. Like many travelers, the colonists attempted to reproduce the homes they had left behind. Frequently they brought seeds of favorite plants and bulbs to rebuild a version of their old gardens. Garden paths were made of gravel, crushed oyster shells and bits of broken brick. Walkways paved with brick would have been too expensive.

Some favorite kitchen and medicinal herbs from Colonial America:

Basil, also called St. Josephwort, was grown for commercial use in Virginia before the American Revolution.

Used as a flavoring,  particularly in salads and soups, pea soup, the clove fragrance of basil improved the taste of foods.  Also a strewing herb.  And the leaves were dried for use in snuff  to relieve headaches and colds.  I love the fragrance and flavor of basil. Several vintage varieties of basil are emerging from the pots I seeded last week in my small greenhouse.

BEE BALM: 

(Image by daughter Elise)
Used for bee stings. Bee Balm is a member of the mint family. It is native to North America but colonists soon sent seeds to Europe for their friends to plant and enjoy. Tea brewed from its leaves was called Oswego tea and used as a substitute for china tea after the 1773 Boston Tea Party.

I am a big fan of bee balm, growing it with more or less success depending on the season.  The flowers really do attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  I set out new plants every year and have done so again this spring with high hopes that they will spread as they have done in the past but not so much in recent years. Too much drought, I suspect, even though I try to water.

CARAWAY: 

The roots were cooked and eaten like carrots, and the seeds chewed or added to cheese, fruit and baked goods.  Caraway seed is an aid to digestion. I’m not a fan of caraway.  No, not even a little bit, but included it for those of you who are, plus it’s historical.
(Image of colonial kitchen)

CATNIP:  

A tea brewed from the leaves was used to treat stomach ache and head colds. Catnip was also steeped in wine and imbibed that way. If a woman wanted to increase her fertility she might soak in a catnip sitz bath. Catnip will take over the garden if you let it, but I like the scent, and the plant, though kind of weedy, is appealing in full flower. Very cheery.
Of course, cats are big fans of catnip.They get quite intoxicated by the scent. Although this kitty seems rather relaxed. I have cats who literally roll on the catnip in the garden and nibble it. They also like the related herb catmint, pictured below. I’ve grown catmint for years and the same plants are still there blooming faithfully each year, about late spring.     
   
Chamomile:

“Camomill is put to divers and sundry uses, both for pleasure and profit, both for the sick and the sound, in bathing to comfort and strengthen the sound and to ease the pain of the diseased.” ~John Parkinson

Another herb commonly grown in Colonial Williamsburg was Chamomile, a lovely herb.  I grow both the lower ground cover variety and the annual reseeding kinds, known as Roman and German chamomile. In early summer the Roman chamomile forms a mat covered with daisy like flowers and the scent is delightful.  I clip off the faded flowers for regrowth and fresh blooms, but the best show is early on.

In early America, the flowers brewed into a tea were used to treat stomach complaints and dispel cold and aches.  A sugary syrup made with the flowers was thought to treat jaundice and dropsy.  Chamomile flowers in the bath are an aid to skin irritations.  It’s known as the gentle soothing herb. Chamomile is a strewing herb and insect repellent.  It’s also just darn cheerful.  A very happy herb to grow.  Lifts the spirits just to look at it and the fragrance is appealing, soothingly nice.

Chives:  

Who doesn’t like chives?  As long as you don’t get too carried away adding the chopped stems to food.  Chives flavored dishes and the flowers added color to arrangements in early America.  Onions and garlic figured prominently in treating many colonial ailments and were thought to offer protection from evil spirits.  I grow and like chives.  The purple blossoms are pretty in late spring.  I also grow a variety called garlic chives that are white when they flower later in the season, quite pretty, and add good flavor in cooking.  They also reseed freely so bear that in mind.

DILL: 

A favorite in our garden, partly because the caterpillars of the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies feed on the leaves and make their chrysalis on the stems, fun to watch, but also because dill smells wonderful and tastes good.  Colonial Americans grew dill to flavor stews and pickles, also for its healthful properties.  Again, another soothing herb.
They also used it to treat hiccups. But I don’t know if that works.  I don’t know that a lot of what they did worked.  It all depended on the herb and whether that plant actually possessed the properties colonists thought it did. (This image of dill in our garden is growing along with an old-fashioned poppy I got seed for from Monticello).

HYSSOP:

 A popular medicinal herb in early America.  I used to grow hyssop but it died out and needs replanting.  The fragrance is potent and not altogether pleasing, but the plant is pretty.  The blooms come in pink, white or blue.  I prefer the blue color.  The colonists used hyssop tea mixed with honey and the herb ‘rue’ as an expectorant.  That doesn’t appeal to me.  I’d rather use the bruised leaves, as they did, applied with sugar to a “greene wound.”  Hyssop was thought to fight infection and to kill head lice when soaked in oil.  An oil of leaves and flowers was applied to arthritic joints.  Also used as a strewing herb.

PENNYROYAL:

Strewing herb. Flea and mosquito repellent.  I love the pungent scent of pennyroyal. After several failed attempts, pennyroyal has formed a low, fragrant mat in our garden and is spreading nicely. At least, it was, until this past winter. A few tiny patches have survived and I’m hoping it will make a comeback. It's so very delightful. (This pic isn't pennyroyal, but an image of a butterfly on flowering catmint as mentioned above)

MINTS: 

We have a variety of mints on a determined march to the sea in our yard and garden but we love the intoxicating scent and mint tea is a huge favorite, so we pull only a little of it out.  In colonial America, they drank spearmint to comfort the nerves.  I should also think as an aid to the stomach which the mint family is rightly known for.  In cooking, mint was boiled with fish or dried and added with pennyroyal to puddings and green peas. Also a strewing herb. And I can certainly see why! (Image of apple mint)

PARSLEY: 

I like the flat leaf variety and grow it.  Parsley was used in early America to dispel the gamey taste from wild meats, like venison. The boiled roots were thought to remove “obstructions of the liver” and to promote urine production. 

(This image of parsley in our garden shows it growing beside asparagus and black-eyed Susans.)

ROSEMARY:

A pot of this herb grows in my window in winter, out in the garden now.  Rosemary was important in colonial times and popular in Williamsburg. An oil made from the flowers was applied to restore eyesight and remove spots and scars on the skin. Compresses of the leaves and oils were used for the head and heart to relieve painful joints and muscles, or “sinews.”

Rosemary was often potted up and kept inside for the winter. The farther north you live the less likely you are to see rosemary in flower.  I seldom get the plants to that size.  Rosemary isn’t happy inside in winter here, but clings to life. This year I've actually managed to get two plants to survive the winter in sheltered spots outdoors, with protection.

HOREHOUND: 

Used to make a cough syrup. Often used with honey and other herbs. Mixed with plaintain for snakebites. Soaked in fresh milk to repel flies. The leaves are used for flavoring beer, cough drops, honey and for making tea.  I have grown horehound and the plants definitely need room to spread.  I love horehound drops.  It does sooth the throat.

LAVENDER

Strewing herb and insect repellent.  Essential in English lavender water.  Recipes found their way to colonial America, as did the plants.  Lavender blossoms have long been dried and used in sachets and potpourri to freshen clothes, linens, rooms,  and to repel insects.  An excellent site on English Lavender Water and more on the herb. *Used to rinse hair.


“This light, refreshing potion is perhaps the oldest known and most frequently used lavender product. Recipes for it were exchanged by women of the Roman era, books throughout Europe and Colonial America. Ours is classic English lavender infused with fresh floral and citrus notes.”

I definitely want a bottle or two. I love lavender, am forever planting new varieties trying to get some to survive our winters.  We have heavy soil, so am amending that and someone suggested growing the lavender in among stones that hold heat to warm the plants.  *Images of lavender in our garden.  The wooden stakes we use not only help support sagging plants but also discourage large farm dogs from sitting on them.  So we use a lot of stakes and large sticks fallen from various trees.  Also called ‘marking sticks’ so we remember where we’ve planted a row of seeds or new seedling. (image of lavender from our garden)

SAGE:

A favorite in our garden, sage has been grown for untold ages, as have all these herbs.  Sage was a culinary favorite in colonial America, and soon gained popularity with Native Americans, and was an important  medicinal herb for a plethora of illnesses.  As a spring tonic to cleanse the body, colonists fasted on sage with butter and parsley. Sage brewed into an ale was given to women to aid in delivery.  Sage has may other uses, as a tea sweetened with honey for sore throat or as a gargle.  Sage reduces perspiration and was used for fevers. And so on. (Image of fuzzy sage and larkspur in our garden).

THYME:

I love thyme.  We grow many varieties.  The species of thyme grown by the colonists was an upright, wild variety that survived the cold winters.  I need to find this one. The best I can do is the English thyme which seems to be hardier than the French. Some of the creeping thymes do well here. Colonists used thyme for melancholy, spleenic conditions, flatulence and toothache. (One of several kinds of creeping thyme we grow in our garden).

A wonderful sounding book that I would like to get is Flowers and Herbs of Early America~It’s a beautiful big hardback book and rather pricey so we shall see. Recommended by the Colonial Williamsburg Historical Society–available at the Amazon link above.

This past summer I purchased two lovely hardback books while visiting in Colonial Williamsburg:The Gardens of Colonial Williamsburg by Kent Brinkley and Gordon Chappell. And, Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way by Wesley Greene.

18th century methods for producing herbal remedies:

Tincture: herb is soaked in alcohol, strained and used.

Decoction: This method was used for tougher parts of the herb plants, the roots, stem and bark. The herb is boiled in water until water is reduced by 1/2 to 1/3.

Infusion: Immersing the herb in water as in tea.

Distilled: Infusing the herb with water, boiling same and catching the condensed steam. Makes a condensed form of an infusion.

We contemporaries must understand the basis on which decisions were made in early America. Colonists based portions of their world view on teachings of early Greek writers. Theories about alchemy and astrology and concepts such as the four cardinal humors influenced many of the colonists’ agricultural, dietary and medical practices. The four cardinal humors were the body fluids: blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. The conditions and proportions of these affected the physical and mental health of the individual.
There were thought to be four basic human temperaments:
  • Yellow bile or choler – hot and dry, characterized by a fiery nature and a bilious complexion.
  • Phlegmatic (phlegm) – cold and moist, characterized by apathy and a pale complexion.
  • Melancholic (black bile or choler) – cold and dry, characterized by depression and sullenness.
  • Sanguine (blood) – hot and moist, characterized by great appetites and capacities, and a ruddy complexion.
The educated colonist would study an herbal, a book containing the names and descriptions of herbs, or plants in general, with their properties and virtues. The earliest herbal written in the English language was published in London in 1525. Additionally, much knowledge was passed along from parent to child, since many colonists were illiterate.


Most herbals listed the qualities of temperature of each plant – hot, cold, dry and moist – paralleling the four elements – fire, air, earth and water. These characteristics were said to be reflected in the human temperament.

In almost all individuals one humor was thought to dominate the personality. There were certain potential health disorders or imbalances associated with each humor. For example, the sanguine person was believed to be amusing and good-natured, but prone to overindulgence. Diarrhea or gout could be a problem for such an individual, so cool, dry herbs like burdock or figwort were used to cleanse the system.
Overly cooling foods were given when a patient had a fever, but those same foods were considered unsafe if consumed by a well person. Foods had to be combined to produce the proper combination for a healthy person.

Melons were chilling, so they were served with ginger or pepper, warming spices. Lettuce was cold and moist, so hot and dry pepper, hot and moist olive oil and cold and dry vinegar dressed it. Vinegar, itself, was considered cooling, so it had to be enhanced with peppercorns, coriander seeds or other warmers. Otherwise, vinegar would “make leane” and cause melancholy.

Another old idea of the period was the “Doctrine of Signatures” or “Law of Similars”. This was the notion that a plant looked like the human organ or symptom of the disease it could benefit. Plants containing a milky juice, like lettuce, were thought to “propogate milk in nursing mothers”. The walnut, which looks somewhat like a brain, when properly prepared and laid upon the crown of the head, was said to comfort “the brain and head mightily”.
The use of herbs and plants in the colonial household was carefully decided based on the knowledge and observations of the time.

A very interesting article on  Apothecary Herbal Healing:

“Before pharmacists, there were apothecaries. During the Colonial period in America, apothecaries dispensed medicines, including herbal remedies. Apothecaries functioned as pharmacists and doctors. Their skills with herbs made apothecaries reliable resources for people seeking healing from any ailment. Apothecary gardens  (link to a site that tells how to plant one) provided herbs to aid healing. The art of apothecary continues in the modern era. Herbalists grow their own herbs and treat ailments just as their colonial foremothers-and fathers. The term, apothecary, came to be used for the store where the apothecary operated. Apothecaries are the ancestors of modern pharmacies or drug stores.”~


For more on colonial herbs and their uses visit this link:

***In conclusion, herbal treatments may or may not have been administered based on an actual knowledge of how that plant’s properties affected a particular condition.  Some remedies were tried and true while superstition influenced other supposed treatments and cures.

*Pics are from our garden,  Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello, and Mt. Vernon. All images are royalty free.