Happy first day of summer!
The heat and rain have really made the gardens burst in the past few weeks. In the Daoist Traditions herb garden, we’ve seen a lot of color this season and have several medicinal plants in full bloom.
Our lovely Mimosa Tree is in full bloom and the flowers smell amazing! The flowers (He Huan Hua/Albiziae Flos) and bark (He Huan Pi/Albiziae Cortex) are both used in Chinese herbal medicine for their spirit calming properties. The flowers are picked in the late summer and early autumn, then dried for use. We have several different varieties of salvia, coneflower, and mint growing around the campus. We planted some new butterfly bushes this spring and they are small, but in full bloom. The butterfly bush flowers (Mi Meng Hua/Buddlejae Flos) are great for a variety of eye disorders. A couple of bright orange speckled tiger lilies (Bai He/Lily Bulb) just popped open. The blue-purple Balloon flower (Jie Geng/Platycodon) is trying hard to keep its flowers in the heat. Both lily bulb and balloon flower root benefit the lungs and together they are a great pair for cough with phlegm that is difficult to expectorate.
Our lavender is looking and smelling amazing this year! If you drive by, check it out just below the dragons at the front steps. With its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antibacterial, anti-stress properties – it basically can treat whatever ails you! Although we don’t use the lavender plant in Chinese medicinal teas, lavender essential oil calms the spirit, soothes the Liver Qi, and diffuses the Lung Qi. We can apply lavender oil to acupuncture points or diffuse in the air to affect the flow of Qi.
In our garden, we don’t worry too much about any areas that have some weeds popping up – even dandelion (Pu Gong Yin/Taraxacum) and plantain (Che Qian Zi/Plantaginis) are useful to the Chinese herbalist! We see no difference between a flower and a weed – as long as it has medicinal properties, we will use it!
Try this cooling summer herbal tea.
Start with a quart-size mason jar. Add about 2 tablespoons each mint leaves (bo he), chrysanthemum flowers (ju hua), goji berries (gou qi zi). Add hot water and let steep and cool for 15 minutes. Add ½ cucumber and let sit for another 15 minutes. Enjoy!
Mint and chrysanthemum are known for their cooling properties. Cucumber is cooling and hydrating. Goji berries are nourishing and add a little sweetness. Chrysanthemum and Gou Ji berries are available at your local health food store.