Apothecary gardens were very popular in the Middle Ages, and although some homes had a few medicinal herbs growing in their gardens, the monks maintained the larger apothecary gardens. Medicinal plants were very important to people of these times because they did not have medicine like we do today, and a common cold was capable of killing many people. Planting an apothecary garden can be beneficial to your health, and it is easy to do when you know a little more about apothecary gardens.
Since the first apothecary gardens of the monasteries, these types of gardens are known for their thorough collection of medicinal plants and herbs. Each plant was valuable for its curative properties, and there are many plants that are popular in an apothecary garden. Here I will describe some of the herbs commonly found in an apothecary garden and their uses.
Aloe Vera is a very useful herb that is common in apothecary gardens, but because it is not frost tolerant, it may be grown in pots and brought indoors for the winter. This herb is antiseptic and should be used for skin irritations such as burns, sores, and cuts. It is also useful for digestive ailments, and it is a succulent that is easy to grow.
Comfrey is another common apothecary herb that aids in healing and should be used externally only. It should not be used on open wounds, and this perennial plant is an anti-inflammatory. It should also not be used by pregnant or nursing women, and it is a hardy plant that is propagated threw root cuttings.
Echinacea is a valuable plant that can help boost the immune system, and it is taken internally. This purple flowering plant enjoys full sun and is drought-tolerant.
Ginger is useful for many reasons, and it is found in many apothecary gardens. This plant is antiseptic, analgesic, and antispasmodic, and it can be used for colds and muscle spasms. Ginger is a root plant that grows in tubers and should be planted in a container in cold climate areas.
Lemon balm is another useful apothecary garden plant, and it is antiviral which is wonderful for sickness. This plant is a hardy perennial, and shoots should be pulled to avoid overgrowth. Pregnant or nursing women should not take lemon balm, and it is also antibacterial.
Apothecary gardens are not necessarily known for their décor or beauty. Although they are both beautiful and interesting; the focus was more on the total care for the plants because many plants in a historical monk’s apothecary garden came from other lands and were wondrous to grow. Raised rectangular beds were standard, and can still be used when creating this type of garden, and the drainage maintained by a raised bed is important for many medicinal herbs. Stones play a large part in this type of garden and are used for statues and borders. The medicinal properties of the plants in an apothecary’s garden were the most essential part of the garden.
Apothecary gardens started many years ago because people did not have the medicinal technology we have today, but many apothecary garden herbs and plants are still helpful.