Stopping to smell the roses — or lavender, or sage, or peppermint — seems like an almost impossible feat when phones are pinging, dogs are barking and there's some frantic activity in the morning to get everyone where they should be. However, taking or making time to recharge, try new hobbies and relax a little- is essential for mental well-being. So to create a fragrant, therapeutic space to calm down, get focused and boost your mood let’s turn to aromatic plants. Fragrances have the power to modify our brain and frame of mind. Inhaling their aromas is a powerful form of natural therapy. Here are a few tips on what to grow.
🌿 Melissa (Lemon balm)
Placing fragrant roses near doorways and windows creates a relaxing ambience, but obviously they take time to grow and flourish. Herbs grow more quickly and planting lavender and Melissa (lemon balm) near garden paths allows you to enjoy their calming fragrance as you walk by. Both thrive in full sun, which makes them a great pair for the garden. Lavender releases its oils as you brush the leaves and flowers. Because it does well in containers, Melissa is a great aromatic choice for flats or homes with small outdoor spaces.
Elevating fragrant plants on wall gardens, raised beds or shelves brings them closer to nose level, which allows their therapeutic scent to be fully enjoyed. It also makes it easier for gardeners who may have difficulty reaching plants if bending or mobility is an issue. We all need a sanctuary, a place to restore and rejuvenate, especially in these worrying times. By adding fragrance to our outdoor spaces, we create true aromatherapy right in our own garden spaces.
Mints are a great starter plant to start with, they are easy to grow and many different varieties are available, all with lovely fragrant aromas!
A few tips on growing mint:
Mint is part of the Lamiaceae plant family there are many varieties and are generally easy to grow in pots and the garden. The Lamiaceae family contains a rich variety of herbaceous plants you would be surprised such as:
🌿 Lemon Balm
Mints yield more aromatic oils than any other for aromatherapy use. Mints have been used for healing and for the spirit and emotions for centuries. Culpepper says that mint refreshes the brain - Shakespeare says that mint strengthens the mind Traditionally mints are used to help the digestive system, cool irritated skin and increase alertness.
Here are a few types of mint to get you started:
🌿 Cornmint - Mentha arvensis
🌿 Peppermint - Mentha x piperita
🌿 Spearmint - Mentha spicata
🌿 Apple mint - Mentha suaveolens
🌿 Ginger mint - Mentha × gracilis
🌿 Chocolate Mint - mentha piperita f citrata 'chocolate'
🌿 Tashkent mint - Mentha spicata
Dried Herbs can be used in cooking oils or as food Garnishes, flowers can be used in baths for a touch of luxury, in teas to enhance flavour (dried peppermint leaves are perfect) using dried flowers to make potpourri, there are so many uses. Some dried flowers and plant matter can be used in aromatherapy, find out more in Penny’s blog: blog: Making Macerated Oils!
Lavender is a hardy perennial shrub that is also part of the Lamiaceae family. A staple of Aromatherapy and of many aromatic gardens, with bright blue to purple flowers with wonderfully uplifting and calming scents. Lavender flourishes best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun. (Suited to pots and in the ground with enough room to grow and good drainage)
There are several different types of Lavender Essential Oils available on the market, below are some of the Lavender Oils available from Penny Price Aromatherapy. All Lavender, but what exactly are the differences between them?
🌿 Lavandin Abrial - Lavandula x intermedia Abrialis
🌿 Lavandin Super - Lavandula x intermedia
🌿 Lavender English - Lavandula angustifolia Mill
🌿 Lavender French - Lavandula angustifolia
🌿 Lavender High Altitude - Lavandula angustifolia
🌿 Lavender Spike - Lavandula latifolia
🌿 Lavender Stoechas - Lavandula stoechas
As you can see from the table above there are 7 different lavender essential oils here alone many with the same or slightly varied Latin names. As with most plant species, there can be different varieties of the same plant. As we can see from the table above there are 4 main types of Lavender.
Lavandula Latifolia - Lavender spike
Lavandula Stoechas- Lavender Stoechas
Lavandula Angustifolia - Lavender English, French, High Altitude
Lavandula X Intermedia- Lavandin Abrial, Super
The saying ‘if in doubt use lavender’ is, in the main, true. Lavender has a wide range of therapeutic effects. It is analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, sedative, cardiotonic, cicatrizant (healing), emmenagogic and hypotensive. It is best known for its stress-relieving properties, treating headaches, burns, wounds, irregular periods, asthma, eczema, acne, candida, aches and pains and high blood pressure.
A sweet, floral aroma and is calming, relaxing, soothing and rejuvenating, the smell is less sweet than French lavender. It is a hardy herb has a delicate purple-blue flower in spring and summer. Grown in Norfolk, Oxfordshire and Kent (usually) this hardy perennial has been bred to house a proportion of the essential oil glands internally so that harvesting does not affect the majority of the oil. Indigenous to the Mediterranean region but is now cultivated all over the world. The oil is mainly produced in France, Spain and England.
A water-white or pale yellow liquid with a penetrating, fresh-herbaceous, camphoraceous odour. It is an aromatic evergreen shrub that grows up to about to 1 meter high with lance-shaped leaves, broader and rougher than the True lavender. The flower is more compressed and of a dull grey-blue colour. Indigenous to the Mediterranean region but is now cultivated all over the world. The oil is mainly produced in France, Spain and England. There are many different varieties of Lavender, the cotton Lavender and the sea Lavender belong to different botanical families.
Has a sweet, floral, warm, fresh aroma with balsamic undertones and a woody hint. Lavender Stoechas is circulatory and invigorating. A hardy herb has a delicate purple-blue flower in spring and summer that is quite different from the traditional lavender flower, being quite short and spiky. The plant is much smaller and less spectacular. Indigenous to the Mediterranean region but is now cultivated all over the world. The oil is mainly produced in France, Spain and England. There are many different varieties of Lavender, the cotton Lavender and the sea Lavender belong to different botanical families.
Has a sweet, floral, warm, fresh aroma it smells significantly different to Spike Lavender and marginally different to Lavandin. Lavender High Altitude is calming, relaxing, soothing and rejuvenating. It is a hardy herb has a delicate purple-blue flower in spring and summer. It is not to be confused with larger cross-breeds of the lavender family, such as spike or lavandin, as it does not have the same essential oil properties, or appearance, being much smaller and less spectacular. Common to Europe, the flower from this plant yields one of aromatherapy’s favourite essential oils.
Also known as Dutch Lavender is fresh and floral. Lavandin super is a cleansing oil, to help balance and maintain a healthy respiratory system. Larger than true lavender with woody stems and purple-blue flowers, which are abundant. It is mainly cultivated in France and Spain. The natural growth of this plant occurs in the mountainous regions of Southern France where both parent plants grow wild at different altitudes.
When you come to drying out your lavender flowers the best time is just before the flowers have started to open, cutting from near the bottom of the stem, not at the top really close to the flowers. You can then bunch the cut lavender together tie near the bottom then hang it upside down to dry out. Try not to leave it in a damp spot, give it some warm light to help dry out. (don’t leave in direct sunlight though as this risks the flowers shrivelling up/turning brown) After around 2-4 weeks once it is completely dry you can then gently rub or shake the small flower buds off and store in a jar.