It’s the longest day of the year and it’s been celebrated all over the world for thousands of years. Midsummer (on the 21st of June) is the celebration of summer solstice, and for many years it was believed that picking midsummer plants on the night of the 20th would increase their healing powers. It was a night of bonfires too, as the fire was supposed to protect against the evil spirits that could wander freely on the solstice. Some of our favourite plants and herbs are typical midsummer herbs. They can be picked for several purposes: essential oils, perfume, cooking… and of course herbal teas! This is a list of our favourite midsummer plants and some tips to use them well. If you fancy celebrating midsummer in the traditional way, pick these gorgeous herbs once the sun is set. (Dancing around the bonfire optional!)
Beautifully coloured and with a soothing scent, lavender is a herb to treasure! Try popping some flowers in a glass of champagne. They’re also great in many sweet or savoury recipes.
Pick the flower heads when they’re looking their best. Picking them at night is ideal, as heat weakens their scent. Keep them on their stalks, tie them up in little bunches and hang them upside down in a dark, dry and well ventilated spot, for about two weeks. Then you can use the dry flowers to put in small cotton bags to perfume your wardrobe, or place a little lavender sachet under your pillow to help you unwind. We also love these bunches that we spotted on Pinterest!
2) Lemon Verbena:
We love the fresh, heady aroma of this versatile cupboard essential. Great for aiding digestion and easing stomach ache, it makes a fabulous tea and an amazing herbal lemonade. If you have a lemon verbena plant, pick the younger, tender leaves early in the morning, before it’s too hot. Add some dry leaves to your boiled rice for a lemony taste. You can also preserve it with sugar and use it in desserts.
With a sweet, earthy taste and many health properties (though not recommended during pregnancy), chamomile tea is a pantry essential. To make your own, pick only whole flowers, no stems or leaves. Wash them, shaking any excess water, and let them dry. You can also bake them in the oven for a few hours at a very low heat. Store your chamomile in a tin and infuse it to enjoy its soothing properties. It works well with lemonbalm or with a hint of lavender (like our own Calming Chamomile). Great for calming your skin when applied externally: simply dip a cotton pad in cold chamomile tea.
These sweet scented flowers have diuretic properties, and have been used to treat colds and sinus infections. Pick the flowers on a sunny day and use them to make desserts, cordial or tea (2-4 flowers infused for around 10 minutes)