Anise Hyssop and Me – the story so far

UPDATE 12th September 2014

Time time time, how it goes! It’s more than two years since I posted this short article about Anise Hyssop. Well, next year I’m leading with the theme of ‘Helpful Herbs’ at our community garden at Bungay library in Suffolk and developing a programme of plantings and events on medicinal and culinary herbs.20140910_172149 Anise Hyssop 640x480

There is ALWAYS an anise hyssop or two in the garden (descendants and descendants of course of the original Arizona swap meet one I talk about below). This year though AH lost its position in the central bed and was growing in the perimeter bed. And sometimes sprouting out of the brickwork. Determined to return this lovely plant to its rightful place in the centre of things, I made a mental note to plant some seeds especially.

When I visited the garden later that day, I found the seedlings above growing in an old kale pot. Which has now taken up position in the centre bed for when I transplant them next year. And their medicinal and culinary properties? More about that in future posts…

PS And butterflies also love them.

The original post 16th June 2012:

I’ve just been finally shaking out the seeds from the last of last year’s anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) seedheads, collected from the Bungay Library Community Garden, where I’m curating the central bed this year with the focus on plants as medicine.

Last year the focus was plants for bees – hence the anise hyssop which they love. You can also make a tasty summer tea from the leaves to cheer the heart and celebrate the season (even if it’s not been much of a summer here in the UK so far!)

The text below the picture above tells the story of Anise hyssop and me. All the plants I grow are descendants of one I bought at a swap meet in Arizona a dozen years ago, where a taciturn Arizonan turned to me when I asked him what the plant was, and said “Licorice mint,” which is another of its names.

If you want to save seeds of your favourite Agastaches, don’t grow different varieties anywhere near each other. Giant Mexican Blue Hyssop (Agastache mexicana) or toronjil, very similar in appeareance and used in herbal heart medicine tea mixtures in Mexico, is another favourite of mine. Friends now grow one or other of them and then pass on some of the seeds to me each year. It’s complicated, but they are amazing and friendly plants.

Pics: Anise Hyssop and me timeline; Some years ago in the garden. Both images by Mark Watson (creative commons with attribution non commercial no derivatives)

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