Borage – Or Why I Love Herbs

Who can say where certain interests or passions originate?

In another life, I might have ended up a herbalist. From a young age I was drawn to ideas of what you could do with plants for health or diet. If I came across a snippet of information about how such and such a herb steeped in hot water could aid in the treatment of a cough or some other ailment, I remember happily storing the information away for later.

I remember as a child reading a family friend’s Encyclopedia Britannica, looking up herbal remedies. Not there was much in them about the specifics of such things, but I’d find bits and pieces about how this herb or that plant was historically known to be able to do this or that and I’d think it was really interesting.

borage flower facing down

I experimented as a teenager with home remedies for beauty treatments, like egg whites as a face mask, or oats mashed up with rosemary or sage if I could get hold of them. Who knows where such interests come? Was I a village wise woman in a past life? Not that I believe in such things, but it makes me wonder.

In my imagination I’ve got a world of time to devote to intricately designed herb beds. On my bedside table I’ve got a range of books devoted to these subjects. Herbal encyclopedias, pictorial guides and so on all devoted to the subject of herbs and flowers.

I like the idea of ways we can incorporate every day items from the garden in our diets for benefits that have been tried and tested for centuries before there were pharmaceutical companies with their push for profits.

I like that you can steep some leaves in hot water and maybe cure a headache or an upset stomach. I’m not sure I hold with the idea that serious illnesses can be cured, but every day remedies? That said, today’s everyday remedy might have killed two centuries ago so who is to say, really?

Ailments cured in the kitchen, that’s where I’m at. It fits with my idea of food as a gentle, wholistic  piece of the life puzzle.

This brings me to Borage. I’ve never thought much about it and have probably flicked past it in my herbal books without a backward glance. So when we were collecting plants for our herb beds a month or so ago, and Sean suggested Borage, I said yes mainly because it sounded obscure and interesting, not because I knew anything about it.

The little plant we got has taken off beautifully and has flowered in the most striking way.

borage flower back

A few days ago Sean said it was time I got out there with the camera and so I did. I love how I never really see a flower until I’ve photographed it. I didn’t see the lovely pointy centre until I was processing the photos.

borage flower side view

I’ve read up on Borage and didn’t know until today that it had properties which may make it useful in treating hormonal imbalances and head colds. Also, a friend of ours says it goes very well with both gin and pimms.

Health remedies? Cocktails? This plant can do both! That’s a win in my book!

I’ve already been shredding the slightly spiky leaves into salads and they have a fresh, slight cucumber flavour.

Borage flowers - back view

But what I really love is knowing that in my garden, which is such a work in progress, I may harbour all manner of exciting trinkets and treats. I planted Borage because Sean recommended it without knowing anything about what could be done with it. What else is out there that I don’t yet know about?

At a BBQ this afternoon, where there was a great, expansive borage plant in the garden, I was told that you can freeze the flowers in ice cubes and put them in drinks. How great is that? I think I’ll go gather some as soon as I’ve hit publish on this post.

It amazes me sometimes, all the stuff that we can find out. You just never know.



17 thoughts on “Borage – Or Why I Love Herbs

  1. Your photos really do justice to the amazing little white hairs across the flowers of borage plants. These are breath taking in a cottage scene. The reseeding of them will also benefit a landscape for years to come. Even if you don’t use them for their herbal or medicinal benefits you still have a beautiful plant to enjoy viewing.

  2. Your photos are incredible, Bells. And I, too, am fascinated with herbs. Not just for healing, but the more sinister aspects. I read once that Agatha Christie got a new book on poisons, and could barely make it through lunch with a friend without sneaking a quick peak at its contents. I felt the same about my lovely little book, Wicked Plants, by Amy Stewart that I got to research a plot idea. You can put these herbs in a cocktail alright…but the results aren’t pleasant. 😉

  3. I love herbs too. I went to a beautiful recreation of the 13th century medieval meditation garden at the weekend and it was full of herbs. No flowers, just sage and rosemary and bay trees and stuff… So quiet and calm.

  4. Hey Bells,
    I love Borage! I put the flowers in salads. They taste a bit like cucumber! They are also great in the garden for attracting bees! I grow heaps of herbs and love them all! Lemon balm and lemon verbena are my favourites! I also adore sage and I dry it and turn it into incense. I grow all the normal herbs; thyme, rosemary, parsley etc, but also love some others like wormwood and mugwort. I too, think I was a “wise woman” or herbalist in a past life maybe? I love your photos!

  5. You can get white borage too. Both will seed around the garden – it is also very good for compost heaps, so just let it grow til it is too big, then compost.

    I put the flowers on salad as a garnish – they shrivel quickly though, so you can’t stir them in. I didn’t know they aided mood – might try again for Xmas.

    I’ve always thought the leaves were too spiky to actually eat – I might try the smallest ones and see how i go.

  6. Borage is such a wonderful plant, isn’t it? Where else can you find a plant with that amazing soft true blue colour, plus the fuzzy leaves. In California you sometimes find them just growing wild by the roadside. The birds must spread the seeds. Haven’t tried growing any here…must give it a go sometime…

  7. As always, I love your photos! Beautiful. I’ve used herbs successfully for this or that, and I use homeopathic remedies (which aren’t all plant based but many are), and lately I’ve been using essential oils, too. I’m not so good at actually growing plants, though!

  8. I love borage – I used to grow it. I’d love to grow some again, but currently we have no garden, other than a solitary pineapple sage, and I need to fence or get raised garden beds otherwise the wildlife will eat everything.

    Borage flowers are quite edible, and, IIRC, reputed to be good for lifting the mood!

    I mentioned pineapple sage – if you don’t have any, I’d recommend it as an addition to your garden. It has spikes of red flowers that bloom in late autumn and early winter up here, (our climate is similar to Canberra’s), and the thornbills love it. Ours is just outside the kitchen window, and we’ll often just stand at the window, watching the birds in it. Ours has grown to over a metre in height, so it would make a good centrepiece in a herb bed, or against a wall.

  9. Herbs are big business in Germany where most doctors and pharmacists will recommend a herbal tea or tonic for your small ‘ailments’ before prescribing drugs. I was a bit of a sceptic until I had a toothache and was recommended a Sage teabag for my gum… worked amazingly well and much cheaper than an expensive dental bill!

  10. Ice block flowers look great in summer punch etc. You can also flour and lightly batter the leaves and fry quickly.

    One plant of borage will soon spread. I used to leave them where they were unless in the way of something.

  11. That’s true – there is an amazing collection of information out there – some of it interesting, some of it useful, some of it both interesting and useful! I remember once telling someone that there wasn’t enough lifetime left to learn everything I want to know or to explore all the avenues I want to explore! And today I added to my knowledge because I knew nothing about borage, not even what it looked like. So thanks, Bells, for the words and the pictures (beautifully taken).

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