Of course we made a bee-line for the glasshouses, and the herb garden was a must.
The herb garden at Kew
Although of a manageable size, the herb garden was packed with informative signs, not just about individual plants, but also the uses of herbs, such as traditional strewing herbs and herbs thought to ward off the plague in times past.
Many wayside flowers have had herbal uses
These common flowers were all thought to have their uses:
According to the sign, Geranium pratense was known by Gerard as Crowfoote cranesbill, and in 1597 he wrote:
“Cranesbill with the Blew Flower is an excellent thing to heale wounds.”
Leucanthemum vulgare or Oxeye daisy:
“The juice, decoction, or distilled water, is drunke to a very good purpose against the rupture or any inward burstings.” Gerard 1597
Personally, inward burstings are not something I think about on a daily basis!
Polygonum bistorta or Snakeweed:
“Both the leaves and the rootes of Bistort have a powerfull facultie to resist all poyson.”
The bumblebees were working in force when we visited. They loved the Salvia officinalis inside the herb garden, and also the lavender beds in the adjoining Queens garden.
Outside the Herb garden
Wandering elsewhere around Kew, we came across many more information points, for example Houttuynia cordata was signposted in the borders as being a plant of much importance to Chinese medicine, having antibacterial properties.
As part of Plantasia, there was even a gin bar serving a selection of botanical alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, with recipes to try at home.
A variety of useful plants are featured in this festival: find out more about them on the Kew Gardens website.