St. Hildegard of Bingen, the medieval herbalist! 

By Shanon Sterringer ~ WRHS Member

Ph.D., D.Min, MA Theology, MA Ministry, BA
Ordained Priest, GSC

It is hard to believe it has been almost a year since I had the privilege of presenting Hildegard the Medieval Herbalist at one of the monthly WRHS meetings.  Many of you are familiar with this amazing woman who practiced healing, not only through the use of foods and herbs, but precious gemstones.  Her work Physica serves as an encyclopedia for the use of many natural elements for holistic health and well-being.  She sees their healing properties existing through her theological understanding of viriditas (greening power) which she believed was the life-source that came from our Creator Source.  Viriditas animates and sustains all that is alive.


St. Hildegard of Bingen describes amethyst in her work, Physica in the following way: “Amethyst develops when the sun shows its circle, as though it was crowned, which it does when it prefigures some change in the vestment of the Lord, in the Church.  Amethyst grows as a gum, and so there are many of them.  It is hot and fiery and a bit airy, since the air is a bit cool when the sun shows its circle.” She goes on to describe how to use it medicinally.  For Hildegard, God’s providence permeates every particle of the created world and therefore everything in nature has an ordered purposed.  Human beings are a part of the divine order and therefore will find benefit in mind, body and spirit from the natural world.


One herb that is of particular interest to Hildegard, and Hildegard followers today, is fennel.  In her work she recorded almost two full pages on fennel including the following: “In whatever way it is eaten, it makes a person happy and brings a gentle heat and good perspiration, and make for good digestion… Eating fennel or its seeds every day diminishes bad phlegm and decaying matter, keeps bad breath in check and makes one’s eyes see clearly, by its good heat and beneficial powers.”  Fennel tea and seeds are often consumed today following meals to aid in the digestive process. 

This is a photo from the back of the Hildegard Haus in Fairport Harbor (where I live and pastor a community of faith).  Growing alongside of the church building is a beautiful crop of fennel.  Last year I worked in the dye garden and in the fall, I was invited to take a handful of fennel seeds from one of the plants.  This small handful of seeds produced an abundant crop here in Fairport Harbor. It is so beautiful, in part because it captures Hildegard’s charism and the spirit of the Western Reserve Herb Society.  While I have truly missed being at the WRHS garden this year, I feel gratitude each day as I walk out into the courtyard at the Hildegard Haus to visit the fennel plants. 


Another popular Hildegard themed treat is her recipe for “Cookies of Joy” or sometimes referred to as “Nerve Cookies” because they are meant to calm one’s nerves by bringing joy.  These cookies are often made from spelt flour (one of Hildegard’s preferred grains) and include her “Spices of Joy” mixture – cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.  In Physica, she wrote: “Take some nutmeg and an equal weight of cinnamon and a bit of cloves and pulverize them.  Then make small cakes with this and fine whole wheat flour (or spelt) and water.  Eat them often.  It will calm all bitterness of the heart and mind, open your heart and impaired senses, and make your mind cheerful.”  There are many recipes circulating for these cookies and when I have hosted retreats or events, many different versions often appear on the buffet table.  Some very unique, and all delicious!  A recipe is included at the end of this blog post, but I encourage you to play with it and make it your own!

Hildegard of Bingen died on September 17, 1179 and so her feast day is celebrated each year in her memory and honor.  We not only celebrate to remember who she was and what she did in 12th century Germany, but to be inspired to bring some of the charism of this remarkable woman, a German Benedictine Nun and Mystic, into our world today.  She has much to teach us about the created world, including the rich treasures of plants, trees, herbs, precious stones and foods.  Her wisdom reaches far beyond this blog post, but for now we can start by kicking back with a cup of fennel tea and a cookie of joy - actually in her book, Hildegard says to eat five or six of them each day!  


Above is a photo of me from our Hildegard “feast” we celebrated as the culmination of a 12-day international virtual pilgrimage with participants from all over the world.  We started in Fairport Harbor each day and then traveled to Germany and experienced the viriditas (greening power) of Hildegard’s homeland through her art, music, preaching and of course, her use of herbs, plants and precious stones. As you can see on the table in front of me, I celebrated with spelt, chestnuts, fennel tea and cookies of joy!  May this season of harvest be overflowing with viridity!

In her book, From Saint Hildegard’s Kitchen: Foods of Health, Foods of Joy,  Jany Fournier-Rosset includes the following recipe:

Cookies That Bring Joy

 12 Tbsps+1tsp butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

4 egg yolks

2 ½ cups spelt flour

1 tsp salt

2 rounded tbsps “Spices of Joy”

Melt the butter under low heat, add the sugar, honey, and egg yolks, beating lightly.  Add the flour and salt, combine gently.  Refrigerate this cookie dough after mixing, for at least one hour.  Remove from refrigerator.  Roll out onto a floured surface, cut with a cookie cutter. Bake on a baking sheet at 400 F for 10-15 minutes until golden, watching closely.

Herbs from a Witch's Garden by Andrea Jackson


Click this link to watch the Go to Meeting recording of our wonderful program ~Herbs from a Witches garden, by Andrea Jackson   

This was our very first program hosted on Go to Meeting, so there are a few glitches at first as we hit our stride with the learning curve...Just hang in there though...they go away like magic!


There is no donation required for this wonderful program, but if you would care to support our “No Fair Herb Fair” with a tax exempt donation of any size it will always be greatly appreciated.
Through your donations, The Western Reserve Herb Society is preserving our legacy of expanding and sharing knowledge of these wonderful plants and their impact on our lives, our culture, and our environment.
To make a donation in honor of the “No Fair Herb Fair!” please go to https://www.westernreserveherbsociety.org/support-our.../



Copyright: Andrea Jackson 2020.
May not be reproduced or photocopied without written consent from the author.



Playing with Dandelions!

By Beth Schreibman Gehring Chairman of Education- Western Reserve Herb Society

A Season of Peace & Joy (20)


I  have always felt such an affinity for Dandelions. Where many see lowly weeds, I see necklaces, good wishes and fresh salad greens! When I was a child playing in my fathers’  gardens, one of the happiest signs of spring were when those bright golden, pollen laden blooms would appear all over our yard as if by magic! I couldn’t wait to get outside and play with them! That lovely golden pollen always tickled my nose and made me sneeze, but I loved it anyway! We all know that the dandelion provides the first and last food for our beloved honeybees and for that reason alone they should be worshipped.

As a child, “Who put them there?”  was  always my question , because I knew that my father hadn’t planted them. They seemed so magical.   I loved them…so much abundance and so much joy to be found in those smiling yellow faces.  I could never understand why he’d get so upset at my favorite pastime, which was to blow the seeds everywhere that I could, flower after flower.  My friends and I made long necklaces and head dresses and pretended that we were fairy queens!  I cried every time the gardeners mowed them down.  By the time I was 10  I finally convinced my father to just  let them be. That spring the dandelions returned with a vengeance as if to say….” Ha…you thought we were gone but we’ve been here for the whole time just waiting!”.  I was beside myself with joy the first time that I saw them reappear.  Dandelions have an absolutely unabashed generosity about them! Pick only one and the next day three will magically appear it its place. I still don’t know how they do that and that’s why I absolutely love them!

Dandelion or  as the French call it Dent de Lion or pissenlit  (the English call it Piss in Bed!) is one powerhouse of a springtime tonic. I love to use the leaves in salad, their bitterness is delightful on the tongue when countered by a salty dressing of olive oil, onion, egg and a bit of crispy bacon. Dandelions are known to have strong diuretic qualities.  When eaten as part of a meal they are thought to be unsurpassed for their cleansing and laxative qualities. In Iran, a wonderful green dip made of braised Dandelion leaves, onions and pine nuts dressed with lemon juice , olive oil and lemon zest is delicious when eaten with fresh yogurt and warmed pita bread.  Dandelion leaves eaten regularly are a marvelous tonic for the digestion and I love to make a simple wine  of infused Dandelion leaves and flowers.


Dandelion infused wine is a delicious and very pretty aperitif. Making it is simple. Just take a bottle of really good Riesling or viognier.
Open it and decant it into a large glass jar filled with several cups of  freshly washed Dandelion flowers. I also add a cup of fresh Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena leaves! Add a cup of raw honey, shake well and let the whole thing infuse in a cool place for about a week.  Strain and decant the wine into a pretty decanter and chill it for another day or two. Serve this lovely springtime digestif in little wine glasses before dinner with wheat crackers and a crock of fromage blanc to which you’ve added a bit of lemon rind and dressed with just a touch of honey and salt for the perfect springtime aperitif!

 This spring as the lively yellow flowers begin to grace your lawns please remember that Dandelions could be your new best friend! They are an acquired taste to be sure, but once you make their acquaintance you’ll never want to be without them!

The Herb of The Year! Why do we study it?

 By Kathleen Gips ~ Ex- Officio Western Reserve Herb Society

Rubus or Brambles- The Herb of the Year 2020

The Herb of the Year ~ What is it all about? ~ Why do we study it?

In 1995 the International Herb Association (IHA) designated Herb Education Week to be the week before Mother’s Day every year. Soon after, they selected an herb for each year. The criteria were that an herb must fall into at least two of these three major categories: medicinal, culinary, or decorative.

At the time I was an active member in this marvelous organization dedicated to the retail and business world of herbs. Our members were charged with educating the public about herbs during Herb Education Week. So the public would become more aware of herbs and their varied uses, we were to explore, in depth, the herb of the year with products, written materials, seminars and workshops. What an excellent way for the educators to be educated. Focus on a specific herb and learn everything about it. How exciting! I loved researching the history, horticulture, culinary, craft and medicinal properties of all the chosen herbs. I treasured learning about my favorite herbs: lavender, scented geraniums, sage. I learned so much about some less common herbs like fennel, calendula and bergamot. Even mundane herbs such as lemon balm and mint gained new knowledge and respect.

A Season of Peace & Joy (14)

I became immersed in building my herbal expertise on each Herb of the Year. Some years challenged my level of excitement more than others. When it was horseradish and elderberry, I initially thought these were not herbs worthy of my passion. As I studied each of these herbs, I learned how wrong this first opinion was. Every herb has magical properties, rich history and many uses. I was rewarded with even more knowledge in my special world of herbs. In 2018 when I learned hops was designated as the Herb of the Year  , I thought, “Oh no! Not hops!”

Worse yet, I am not even a beer lover. My first introduction to hops came when I invited Jim Long to be a guest speaker at my herb shop to discuss his new book, “Making Herbal Dream Pillows". 

 I dutifully ordered hops for him, since they were an ingredient in his sweet dreams pillows that would be made in our workshop. Imagine my surprise when I opened the bag and the entire room smelled like stinky feet. Ewww! But then Jim explained the powerful relaxation properties of hops. So that is why my Dad fell asleep while drinking a beer and watching a football game. It was the hops!

My next introduction to hops was a golden hops plant that Mark Langdon from Mulberry Creek Herbs delivered to me to sell. Since my customers knew little about growing hops at the time, I was left with hops plants at the end of the selling season. So I planted them near an iron arch at the entrance to our herb garden. The vine grew quickly and prolifically covering the entire arch in a single season. What a magnificent show of beautiful chartreuse leaves and stunning green pendant flowers! It was a traffic stopper and attracted a lot of interest. Everyone wanted to grow these beautiful golden hops in their own garden. Imagine my surprise when it became my favorite landscape herb in the garden.

When we pulled the vines down after the first frost, I learned about the tenacious prickly tendrils of hops and came away with scratches and a skin rash. I learned about the very hardy nature of the hops plant as it came back each spring from nothingness. It spread its tendrils far and wide and even needed some restraint! What a resilient, tenacious, and beautiful herb plant. How useful it is in the garden landscape, the flavoring of beer and its calming medicinal properties. And there you have it!

A Season of Peace & Joy (15)

This is why the Herb of the Year is so important for those of us whose passion lies in the world of herbs. Our lives are enriched by studying the history, horticulture and uses of even the herbs that are not so well known to us!  We get to know these herbs by using them, observing them and even journaling about them and then suddenly a year has gone by and there is yet another new herb to get to know!

This year, our Herb of the Year is the absolutely delightful and sometimes completely frustrating Rubus, more affectionately known as Brambles, Raspberries, Blackberries or Brambleberries! This plant is definitely more familiar to me than Hops was, but nonetheless there is still so much more for me to learn!

The Herb of the Year fits very well into the mission of our Western Reserve Herb Society. Together we gather information about herbs and share that knowledge with the public.  So this year, we will all learn to be experts about  Brambles and we will  talk about them with anyone and everyone who will listen.

Join your fellow members as we stroll through  the Bramble patch in 2020, learning and teaching together.

The Rambling Beauty of Brambles!


By Beth Schreibman Gehring - Chairman of Education - Western Reserve Herb Society


This year, the Rubus genus is not only HSA’s January’s herb of the month, but it is the International Herb Associations herb of the year for 2020! The Rubus is a very large and diverse species and is part of the Rose family. Blackberries, raspberries, loganberries and boysenberries are all part of this delicious and festive group! The most common name for this boisterous genus is Brambles or Brambleberries, a name that always makes me smile having grown up with Jill Barklams delightful Brambly Hedge series! Somehow, the most fun always seem to happen under a canopy of rosehips and brambleberries!

I once read a wonderful story about Bramble bushes. It was in the mid 90’s in one of those wonderful new agey books (or as my son calls them “That weird hippy stuff  YOU read mother!) and the premise was that the all members of the genus Rubus have a collective consciousness that extends through an underground network all around the world. If I’m going to be honest with you, I loved the idea of that and I found it incredibly easy to believe. At the time that I read that book, I was still living on our farm in Burton Ohio where blackberries and black raspberries were flourishing around every corner. They drove my husband crazy because if you’ve ever had a bramble bush as a best friend, then you know just how prolific they really are. Every year before they’d flower, Jim would go into the thorny vines with his gloves and his clippers and every year he’d find more and more of them.

 Fortunately, when they began to flower, he’d have to leave them alone as the blooms are a major source of sweet nectar for the honeybees. He’s quite allergic to those bees, so if he missed a few the berries got their chance! Berry bushes are a bit like willow trees and If you drop just one clipping in a wet area, within weeks it will have taken root and begun to spread. I love to imagine that they are all entwining their tendrils in the earth underfoot and that they are all connected all around the world just like my little book said.

Make your dreams so clear  that your fears become irrelevant. (17)

By the time that we moved 21 years later, there were black raspberries and blackberries everywhere and to my absolute delight they’d become completely uncontrollable.  They didn’t all ripen at the same times and they were all amazing. We had our favorite patches but Alex and his best friend Jessica swore by the ones that grew down by our pond.  They didn’t start out down there , they came from some of the first clippings that my husband tossed over the fence as far away from the garden as he could find!

 When they were little, Alex and his friends Tyler and Jessica used to spend hours eating their way around the brambles.  They’d come running up with handfuls of the warm juicy berries for me and I loved them so much for the taste of course but more for the pleasure of knowing that these children that I adored were having an early experience of sustainability.  We’d share them and then they’d go running off for more.  I’d send them home covered in purple juice but thankfully their mothers forgave me! Alex is 32 now,  but he loves to reminisce about his childhood growing up on the farm and all of his favorite stories usually have something to do with those blackberries which I understand because they were so completely sweet and delicious!

 Tequila marries well with black raspberries, mint and a bit of sugar and surprisingly so does bourbon.  Black Raspberries and Meyer lemon juice mixed with  sugar, filtered water and cracked ice make a delicious and refreshing lemonade that is absolutely delicious and lovely to look at too! Fresh blackberries with arugula, fresh spearmint, ripe pear,  basil and burrata cheese is another favorite combination of mine. Served with a bit of seasoned rice vinegar  and olive oil, there really is no lovelier summer salad. Then there is fresh raspberry jam, a condiment in a class by itself. Whether you serve it with buttered toast, a savory white cheddar  or baked with a chicken breast or pork tenderloin, it’s always one of the most useful jams I make every summer.

Make your dreams so clear  that your fears become irrelevant. (18)

My first experience of the black raspberry as a medicinal tonic came when I was a child and I developed a serious tummy ache one day after eating too many pieces of very greasy pepperoni pizza. Instead of  going for the antacid in the cupboard, my mother vey wisely took out the bottle of  homemade black raspberry cordial that she kept in her medicine cabinet and poured  a nice bit of it into a cup of hot water. She gave it to me to sip and it has been my favorite stomach tonic ever since. Raspberry leaves and their fruit contain vast amounts of natural and easily assimilated vitamin C, B, A, E, Calcium and iron.  A cup of raspberry tea made with the a bit of mint , raspberry fruit, dried nettles and alfalfa and raspberry leaves really helped to ease my morning sickness. 

It’s been 17 years now since we sold our farm and I miss those black raspberries every summer.  We have created a lovely home in Cleveland Heights, with a huge front porch and gardens that wrap around the whole lot. I’ve planted an orchard now with lots of native fruits and herb beds, but until 4 years ago, it didn’t have any brambles! I have to admit that I finally planted some without asking my husbands permission.  Poor Jim! Well.. poor Jim until the first crop of enormous , juicy berries came in. After the first handful he was delighted, and although they still get wildly out of control and have ended up far from the places I have planted them, he is enjoying them very much. They were a great present for Alex that first summer when he came home from New York to find them fruiting wildly. It’s not often that you get to relive the past, but he went running out to the back yard when he saw them and stuffed himself until he couldn’t eat any more.  I hadn’t told him I’d planted them, I was keeping them a surprise. At this point, they’ve taken over my yard and my neighbors, but her children love them and I get to watch the cycle all over again. The brambly hedge is one of those wonderful plants that is capable of providing such amazing amounts of great joy.

Just keep your pruning shears sharpened.  

Only Connect!


By Kathleen Hale - Unit Chair,  Western Reserve Herb Society


Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.”

― E.M. Forster, Howards End



It will surprise absolutely no one, that I am starting a new gardening passion in the New Year.  I’m growing mushrooms!  Well, I have a batch of Blue Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus var, columbinus) mushrooms starting down in my basement laboratory.  The Case Western Reserve University Farm, also known as Squire Valleevue Farm, offers classes in growing mushrooms.  Having taken precisely only one of those classes, and visited the Cave of Wonders that is the Farm’s Mushroom Cellar, I now consider myself an expert.

Well, maybe not an expert. But it does have me thinking a lot about mushrooms.  Spreading the mushroom spawn evenly through a bunch of newly pasteurized, wet, shredded straw, ready to stuff the mess into a clear plastic film cylinder, I remembered the packet of “Mike” or mycorrhizae, purchased from some overpriced plant catalog, that I carried around in my jacket pocket last spring, having been assured that roses and other plants absolutely love to be planted with a fungal assist around their roots.  Who knows? 

The thing is, the fungus world is complicated and fascinating.  As any gardener paying attention can tell you, plants communicate with each other. And fungi facilitate that communication. A mycorrhiza is a symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant. The fungus inhabits the plant’s root system.  This colonization benefits the plant’s nutrition, soil biology and soil chemistry. We don’t yet have a clue about all the services provided by mycorrhizae. This is new and exciting stuff. But one fascinating area of study is how the mycorrhizae act as “bankers”, saving up nitrogen to distribute to the plant roots in times of nitrogen shortage. Mycorrhizal networks don’t just help out individual plants.  They appear to facilitate communication and cooperation between plants.

Nerdy enough for you yet?  Well, I do have a point, and it has to do with good gardeners in a New Year.  We need to connect with each other.  More important, we need to connect in ways that are “mutualistic”, a word used to describe the relationship between plants and mycorrhizae. This sometimes can be difficult.  We are perhaps more complicated than those fungal tendrils, and less likely to explore new territory. We can be resistant to putting ourselves out there. Gardening can seem to be a solitary activity, until you realize the teeming world of organisms working around us.  

Our human gardening companions are worth exploring.

In the New Year, I challenge you to put yourself out there.  Only connect.

Mistletoe, Mischief and Magic!


By Kathleen M Hale, Unit Chair ~ Western Reserve Herb Society


I have nothing against the Druids.  But it must be said that (apart from the practice knocking on wood for good luck) they have not contributed a lot to our way of doing things… except at Christmas! Holly and ivy and Christmas trees, all are part of the Druidic legacy. But another persistent and peculiar Druidic Solstice custom involves the supposed fertility magic conferred by a parasitic plant, the Mistletoe.

There are more than a thousand varieties of Mistletoe throughout the world. It has many names, including birdlime, all-heal, golden bough, drudenfuss, iscador and devil's fuge. All are plant parasites. The European Mistletoe, Viscum alba, is most commonly found on apple trees, poplars, willows, lindens, and hawthorns.  North America’s Oak Mistletoe finds its hosts among a host of deciduous trees, and is named Phoradendron, Greek for “tree thief”. Once the link is established, the Mistletoe will syphon nutrients from the host plant. It gives nothing back in exchange.  Mistletoe will sometimes give up its own photosynthesis, and drain the life away from its host. Sometimes it will produce its own branches and leaves, growing from the host plant’s stem or trunk. The growth of the Mistletoe is slow, but persistent.  Its own life relies on the life of its host. The substance of the Mistletoe’s own stem is so slight that, in Nordic myth, it was deemed too inoffensive to offer harm to the gods as material for weapons.  Hence, the magic protecting Baldur the Beloved from harm neglected to mention weapons that might be made from Mistletoe.  Suffice it to say that Loki, God of Mischief, found a way.

 Once the host tree loses its leaves in the Fall, the Mistletoe, which produces a “witch’s broom” tangle of evergreen foliage, is clearly visible. In the deep Midwinter, this makes Mistletoe a star.


Untitled design - 2019-12-17T095934.405

Once the Mistletoe is happily in position, it can propagate itself.  It produces flowers, and later waxy white drupes or berries. Those berries are beloved by birds. The berries are filled with a thick, sticky gel, cradling the seeds of the Mistletoe.  Birds, eating the berries, are left with a sticky beak. As the bird cleans its beak by raking it against the bark of a tree, seeds from the Mistletoe are deposited into the new scratches. Or the Mistletoe seeds may find a new home after passing through the bird’s digestive track. The name “Mistletoe” comes from the Saxon for “dung on a tree branch”.

However, those berries are highly toxic to humans.  That’s one reason why the “Mistletoe” sprigs that you will find in your local garden center will be genuine plastic. The old custom of kissing under the Mistletoe involves removing a berry for each kiss, and a loss of the plant’s powers after the plucking of the last berry.  But I have found that magic lies in intention, not technicalities.

Modern study suggests that the Mistletoe, while needy and controlling, is not a bad neighbor.  Woodlands containing Mistletoes are hospitable to birds, animals and insects, probably because of the housing made available in the dead or dying host plants. This makes it an ecological “keystone” species. There is promising research underway using the Mistletoe to derive treatments for cancer in humans.

The Victorians loved to share Christmas ghost stories, and The Mistletoe Bough is one of the classics.  A number of stately manors claim to be the site of the sad events. In the 1830’s, the legend was memorialized as a ballad with lyrics by Thomas Haynes Bayly, and music by Sir Henry Bishop.


The mistletoe hung in the castle hall,

The holly branch shone on the old oak wall;

And the baron's retainers were blithe and gay,

And keeping their Christmas holiday.

The baron beheld with a father's pride

His beautiful child, young Lovell's bride;

While she with her bright eyes seemed to be

The star of the goodly company.

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

Oh, the mistletoe bough.


The mischievous bride, during the celebration of her wedding breakfast, decided to hide in a large oaken chest during a game of Hide and Seek. She hid too well.




And years flew by, and their grief at last

Was told as a sorrowful tale long past;

And when Lovell appeared the children cried,

"See! the old man weeps for his fairy bride."

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

Oh, the mistletoe bough.


At length an oak chest, that had long lain hid,

Was found in the castle — they raised the lid,

And a skeleton form lay mouldering there

In the bridal wreath of that lady fair!

Not, I must point out, the fault of the Mistletoe.  But, perhaps, the work of Loki, the God of Mischief, who has (we know) used Mistletoe as an innocent accomplice before. Perhaps it’s best to expect mischief under the Mistletoe.


I cannot find any artist associated with this illustration of "The Mistletoe Bough". If you know, please write me in the comments!

A Prayer of Thanksgiving inspired by St. Hildegard of Bingen

By Shanon Sterringer  - Western Reserve Herb Society Member

This was written by Shanon for our Thanksgiving Unit Meeting. It is so beautiful and it felt completely appropriate to share it here with all of you.

Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to all!




How wonderful it is to be able to gather together for a few hours today in thanksgiving for all that we have experienced this past year through the Western Reserve Herb Society.

We offer gratitude for the peace and tranquility of our beautiful herb gardens; for the grace of our friendships – new and old; for the richness of so many educational programs and workshops; for the nourishing and beautiful meals we have shared; and for the success of another growing and harvesting season. We give thanks also for all who invested their time, talent, and resources in support of the WRHS annual herb fair. In the words of St. Hildegard of Bingen, viriditas –greenness – abounds!

It has truly been an extraordinary year!

As the fall season begins to wind down, the herbs have been cut back, the leaves have fallen from the tress, the mulch is spread, and the grass is now glistening with a light coating of snow. The darkness of winter again peaks around the corner inviting us to rest from our labors. As we prepare for this well-earned break, let us take a moment to pray that this winter season might be a time of gestation and renewal, not only for the women and men of our herb society, but for all creation.

We pray for an increase in awareness and gratitude for the great gifts God blesses us with through the earth. Mother earth is needlessly suffering. Through our intentions and our efforts, may she be restored to her full glory. And so, we pray...

(adapted from a prayer written by Michelle Balek, OSF)

Good and Gracious God, Source of all Life, all creation is charged with your Divine Energy. Ignite your
Spark within us, that we may know ourselves as truly human and holy, irrevocably part of the Web of Life.
All creation
Each star and every flower
Each drop of water and every person
Each and every atom, down to its very electrons, explodes with the revelation of your Sacred Mystery
Our minds alone cannot fathom such splendor.
Our hearts can only respond in awe, praise, and gratitude.
May we always walk gently upon this earth in right relationship.
Nurtured by your love
Taking only what we need
Giving back to the earth in gratitude
Sharing what we have
Honoring all with reverence
Reconciling and healing
Mindful of those who will come after
Recognizing our proper place as part of, not apart from, your creation.
Grant us the strength and courage, we pray, for such radical transformation into your kin-dom. Then we to,
with the very stones will should, Hosanna!

This is a painting of one of St. Hildegard’s Visions... this of the seasons!

Hopelessly in Love with Lovage!~ (and a wonderful Poultry Seasoning Recipe!)



By Mary Lynn Fruit ~ WRHS Program Committee



 I am hopelessly in love with lovage.  My affair with this wonderful plant began a few years ago when we  introduced it into the Culinary Section of the Western Reserve Herb Society Herb Garden.  Indeed, it was love at first "smell".

Lovage ( Levisticum officinale)  is native to western Asia and southern Europe and is believed to have hitched a ride with the Pilgrim Fathers to North America.  It has been used since Roman times and is very popular here in the United States.  It has many uses, both traditional and modern.  At one time, its leaves were laid in shoes to revive the wandering traveler, and at inns it was served as a cordial which was flavored with tansy and yarrow.  Today, a modern form is made by steeping fresh lovage seed in brandy and sweetening it with sugar.

Lovage is strongly aromatic, which is very similar to celery; however, it is more pungent and hints of anise, lemon and yeast.  The parts used are the leaves, stems, roots and seeds.  (The stems of lovage are hollow and make wonderful natural and eco-friendly straws!)  It is very easy to grow by division or seed, doing equally well in the shade or sun.  Its deep roots need moist, fertile and well drained soil.  It is a perennial in zones 3-9; it dies down in winter, but is extremely hardy and returns each spring.  It is one of the first up in the spring growing up to 15 inches tall by the time the dandelions make an appearance, and can grow to be six to seven feet tall!  It makes a wonderful background border to any garden.  Like other early plants, it is loaded with vitamins - particularly vitamin B and C.

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Lovage has many culinary uses.  It can be used like celery or parsley in many dishes, however, keep in mind that it is much stronger than these and a little goes a long way.  Its delightful taste diminishes somewhat in cooking, so you will want to wait until that last bit of cooking to add it.  Leaves, stems (chopped) and roots work well in casseroles, soups and stews.  Young leaves make a good simple soup on their own or combined with potato or carrots and are used in seafood chowders.  In addition, the leaves are good in salads; older leaves add a wonderful taste to bean or potato dishes and are good in stuffing. Try Lovage-flavored potato and rutabaga gratin, potato cakes with lovage, cheddar and baked vegetable dishes.  Whole or ground Lovage seeds can be used in pickles, sauces, marinades, crackers and all sorts of breads.

If you have never met this divine plant, I urge you to come to our Herb Garden in the Spring and visit our Culinary Section.  We will be delighted to introduce you!  If you come to our Herb Fair in October (the second Saturday in October every year at the Cleveland Botanical Garden) we have packages of dried Lovage for sale. I promise you - once you have tried Lovage, you will be hooked!


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Here is a recipe created by Kathleen Gips for the best poultry seasoning that you'll ever try , just in time for Thanksgiving!

This is a traditional herbal blend to use to season turkey, duck, chicken, game, stuffing and gravy.


Mix together:

1/4 cup sage

3 Tablespoons thyme

3 Tablespoons marjoram

1 Tablespoon lovage

1 Tablespoon celery leaf

3 Tablespoons parsley

2 Tablespoons granulated onion

1 Tablespoon powdered rosemary

1 teaspoon granulated orange peel

 Use 1 tsp. for every 4 servings For full flavor crush herb leaves before using.

Herb Rub Recipe:
Mix 1/4 cup olive oil with 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning. Stir to blend. Rub on outside of bird and under skin.

No salt or preservatives added.




WRHS Medical Disclaimer: In accordance with FDA and other government entity rules: the information and products you may learn about in regard to Herbal Wellness as a result of your association with WRHS are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You, and you alone, are legally responsible for any and all decisions you make regarding the health of yourself, your family, children and your friends, clients and even your pets. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have learned as a result of your association with WRHS. Reliance on any information provided by The Western Reserve Herb Society, and members teaching or writing for WRHS or guests speaking at the invitation of WRHS, is used solely at your own risk.