Clary Sage as the herb of the week.
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) is a biennial, meaning it blooms every other year. The name clary comes from the latin clarus meaning clear. A decoction of the seed is mucilaginous and was traditionally used as an eye wash (to clear the eyes.) In the 16th century the seed was infused with elder flowers and the liquid was added to Rhine wine which turned them to muscatel making the wine more potent.
The seeds of Clary Sage must be scarified in order to germinate. It is a great herb to winter sow. But if you don't have the time, freeze the seeds for 3 to 5 days in a zip lock bag before planting. They need total darkness to germinate so sow the seed at least 1/2 inch deep in dark soil. If you want to direct sow, do so once the soil has reached 55 to 60 degrees.
This plant thrives only in full sun and a well-drained sandy soil. It struggled the first year I grew it because my soil was too dense, but once I worked in sand it was very happy. Do not use any fertilizer high in nitrogen, so a simple compost feeding will do if needed. And allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Space the plants 9 to 12 inches apart. My clary sage is blooming now, but it is not as happy as it could be because of the constant rain we seem to be having.
This is a zone 6 and higher plant, but I have been able to keep it through winters here in zone 5 with these winter preparations. Cut the tops after the first fall frost. It must be protected from harsh winter conditions, so a layer of hay or evergreens placed over it once the ground has frozen will protect it from harsh drying winds.
Clary Sage tastes much like garden sage with a pungent fragrance holding a hint of camphor. Unlike garden sage, however, it can easily over power foods and become bitter if used in large amounts. The large leaves (as big as 2 inches across and 6 to 9 inches long) grow off a central stalk that bends with the weight of the flowers. It grows to a height of 3 feet with a width of 1 foot. The flowers are lilac or pale blue, pink or white, in whorls on top of the stems. The leaves are broad oval or heart-shaped, in pairs, covered with fine silver-white hairs. It blooms from June to July.
For culinary purposes you can use the fresh and dried leaves in the same ways as garden sage. It is a great addition to breads and stuffing. The flowers are edible and can be used as garnish. A strong fragrance resembling a balsom makes it a great addition to sachets or potpourris. The essential oil is also used as a fixative in perfumes and as a scent for lotions and detergents.
An astringent the steeped leaves can be gargled, douched and poured over skin wounds. An infusion of the leaves dried or fresh makes a stimulating bath additive. Taken internally it is combined with other herbs for kidney problems. The clary seeds form a thick mucilage when soaked for a few minutes and placed in the eye, helps to removed, small irritating particles. A tea of the leaves is also used as an eyewash. Clary can be used to reduce muscle spasms. It is used today mainly to treat digestive problems such as gas and indigestion. It is also regarded as a tonic, calming herb that helps relieve premenstrual problems. Because of its estrogen-stimulating action, clary sage is most effective when levels of this hormone are low. The plant can therefore be a valuable remedy for complaints associated with menopause, particularly hot flashes.
The professionally extracted essential oil of Clary Sage is used in many medicinal situations, especially those to improve circulation and respiration, as well as relieve the effects of grief. According to Susun Weed, "this is the essential oil chosen for treating nervousness, weakness, fear, paranoia, and depression. Clary feeds the soul and helps one get through rough times. It is recommended when pressures and stress come from outside." Wonderful for people in mid-life crisis, Clary also encourages vivid dreams or at least enhances dream recall.
NOTE: rather than update or change this post we decided to answer several questions and provide a few new recipes for Clary sage with a new Mini Herb of the week post.
Clary Sage Pork Roast
2 1/2 to 3 pound pork roast or tenderloin
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried clary sage
1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 fresh leaves of basil
1 apple, cored and cut into quarters
Salt and pepper
Place roast in crock-pot. Cover just to top with water. Add thyme, sage, rosemary, bay leaf, basil and apple. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on medium for 5 to 6 hours. (Add potatoes to your crock pot with roast in the last 2 hours for delicious boiled potatoes!)
Susun Weed's Clary Love Potion
Equal parts of dried lavender, bachelor’s buttons and clary sage
a pinch of valerian
a sassafras leaf
Blend together and place in a small sachet and wear inside the clothing to attract a man.
Anti-Sorrow Aromotherpy Blend
4 oz sweet almond oil
10 drops marjoram essential oil
5 drops clary sage essential oil
5 drops rosemary essential oil
1 drop lemon balm essential oil
Combine ingredients the ingredients and shake well. Place the oil on an evaporator and use on a cotton ball.