The Saga Insurance Garden is full of herbs to make you healthy
The more we use natural products to improve our health, the greater the demand for good quality herbs has become. This year, supermarket sales of fresh herbs and spices are set to sore and sales figures are already up 30% on last year* as more and more people are realising the health benefits that herbs have to offer.
We, as a nation, are again realising the amazing healing powers of herbs in addition to the benefits that herbs have in helping boost our immune systems. According to Tony Hancock of RHS Garden Centres, herbs are now one of their bestsellers.
Top garden designer Cleve West has designed this years Saga Insurance Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show (22nd - 27th May) and demonstrates the importance of herbs, not just for their aesthetic, culinary and domestic value, but also for their medicinal attributes which are increasingly playing a significant part in our busy and hectic lives.
A number of the herbs selected for the garden have come directly from Jekka McVicar's famous herb farm near Bristol. Jekka is recognised as the country's number one authority on growing and using herbs and boasts the largest collection of culinary and medicinal herbs in the UK.
Herb highlights from the Saga Insurance Garden, 2006
Leptospermum scoparium, New Zealand tea tree, 14ft tall specimen. Drought lover with green brown leaves, unusual white flowers and beautiful seed heads. Healing astringent with wide range of medicinal uses. Oil is created by steam distilled from the leaves and is usually colourless. The herb has been used as a traditional Maori remedy for kidney and bladder complaints, and to combat the miseries of the common cold due to the high decongestant and analgesic properties.
Lavandula viridis, Striking green flowering Mediterranean lavender, with heavenly pine scent. Traditionally, herbalists used Lavender for a variety of conditions of the nervous system, including depression and fatigue. It has also been used for headache and rheumatism. In Arab medicine, it was used as an expectorant and an antispasmodic.
Bulbine frutescens, (2ft high) African Bulbine. Jelly Plant from South Africa. Like aloe vera it's used to heal wounds. The fresh leaf produces a jelly-like juice that is wonderful for burns, rashes, blisters, insect bites, cracked lips, acne, cold sores, mouth ulcers and areas of cracked skin. This plant is ideal to grow and is a useful first-aid remedy for childrens' daily knocks and scrapes. It can also be infused with boiling water and then drunk once strained to help fight coughs, colds and arthritis.
Centella asiatica, Gotu kola. fascinating plant of Indian origin that's used to treat a variety of conditions including psoriasis and leprosy. Creeping perennial with tiny maroon flowers. This herb is typically available as a tea, tincture, or capsule. Historical uses for Gotu Kola include support applications for skin disorders, mental & physical fatigue, expelling parasites, hysteria, asthma, and varicose veins. Gotu Kola has also been employed in the past as an energy tonic, and as a support treatment for the symptoms of high blood pressure.
Eriocephalus africanus, 5ft tall specimens. South African wild rosemary, thrives on drought. An infusion made with the leaves helps treat diarrhoea, stomach aches, dandruff, flu, loss of blood and oedema. It is also thought to keep the heart healthy. Known as "snowbush" because of its fluffy white seedheads.
Notes to Editors
* Source: Fresh Produce Journal 2 Feb 2006. (contact 0207 622 6677; www.freshinfo.com)
Saga specialises in serving the needs of people aged 50 and over. Saga has over 2 million customers and provides insurance, financial services, holidays, publishes the monthly Saga Magazine and operates a series of regional radio stations in the Midlands and Scotland.
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