Today we have the first proper rain for over a month – how suddenly we went from flood to drought! As the Rumwoldstow garden is made of raised beds, it’s especially important that they receive all the rain they can. So I pottered down the lane in my dressing gown, wellies and waterproof this morning and slipped out most of the roof shingles on the shade garden’s sun hat. I’ll put them back when it’s sunny again.
Later in the morning, a box of plants arrived in the mail, containing two perennial cauliflowers (a variety developed in 1928, so not historic, but certainly heritage) and a valerian plant which I have planted in the last empty end space. It’s at the north end of the shady bed so will get quite a lot of sunshine.
Valeriana officinalis has a long history as a herbal medicine though I don’t think there’s much evidence for its use as a ‘sleeping tablet’. It certainly didn’t do anything for me, though I do have insomnia at a heroic level – I must have put a lot of points into it, though I’ve no idea why.
The seventeenth century astrological botanist Nicholas Culpeper thought the plant was “under the influence of Mercury, and therefore hath a warming faculty.” He recommended both herb and root, and said that “the root boiled with liquorice, raisons and aniseed is good for those troubled with cough. Also, it is of special value against the plague, the decoction thereof being drunk and the root smelled. The green herb being bruised and applied to the head taketh away pain and pricking thereof.