Medicinal & Dye Plants
Rosa rugosa, a hardy rose variety grown for its large rose hips (the fruit of the rose, high in vitamins and excellent for preserves).
At Mosby's Secret Sidehill Farm, we believe that lazy gardening is efficient gardening, and that means that labor-intensive annuals just can't compete with resilient perennials. We also believe that every plant in a garden should offer more than just beauty; whether it is a culinary herb, a medicinal plant, a staple food crop or some combination thereof, it should earn its place in a busy homestead's garden by providing something useful and sustainable. That's why we offer an ever increasing selection of perennials, from herbs to trees, that we feel deserve a place in every food forest, potager or apothecary garden.
See below, and browse our blog, for a sampling of the varieties we currently grow. Of particular interest are a few permaculture favorites: Egyptian Walking Onions, Mallow, Elderberries and White Willow.
Not all daylilies are edible, but these perennial beauties offer three delectable options: the buds (as nutritious as green beans), the blooms, and the rhizomes! These permaculture stars provide an early harvest with the minimum of effort. For resilience, it's hard to beat a lovely flower that needs no tending, and always has nutrients ready for an emergency.
We carry two cultivars of the famous black elderberry: Bob Gordon and Magnolia Highbush. The former produces large, plump berries; the latter produces huge quantities of smaller berries. Both respond best to cross pollination, so we recommend planting a few of each. Elderberries & flowers are best known as immune system boosters & strong anti-viral medicines, but they taste great, too!
Mullein is a multi-purpose, hardy, self-seeding biennial medicinal plant that is strikingly handsome in the garden. The tall stalks of yellow flowers are famous for treating ear infections; the broad, soft leaves can be dried and made into a tea for asthma and colds; and best of all, these leaves were a traditional toilet tissue in pioneer days. For resilience, it's a great thing to grow your own biodegradable TP substitute!
Malva sylvestris, also called bread plant, is a perennial food crop that tastes great and grows beautifully! Use young or medium-sized leaves in salads or as cooked greens, like spinach. They help thicken soups, too. The flowers are an edible garnish and the seeds are nutritious as well. The root makes a soothing cough syrup (like its famous cousin, marshmallow). In our garden, USDA zone 7a, mallow grows year-round and has provided us fresh salads in January, though its growth is most vigorous in summer.
This sterile cultivar will not become invasive or spread in your garden, and instead puts all of its energy into growing enormous leaves and beautiful flowers. Comfrey is best known for its wound-healing powers (but be careful; it can close a deep wound too quickly, and should not be used without medical advice). In permaculture, however, comfrey's stardom comes from its biomass generation and deep, mineral-mining taproot that pumps nutrients up into the leaf harvest, which then makes excellent mulch or compost.
Aspirin was initially derived from the pain-relieving chemicals found in the bark of white willow trees, used commonly for willow-bark tea. The tea, however, is far more digestible and gentler for long-term use than the isolated and concentrated form. The willow, moreover, is grown as a coppice to provide annual harvests of garden stakes, basketry whips or wattle withes for garden fences. Stripping the cut willow wands of their bark provides the medicinal tea as a byproduct of this renewable basketry resource!
A sampling of the other perennials we carry: