Borage

Traditionally, Borage was used by herbalists to dispel melancholy, gladden the heart and to give courage. Although not used in this manner today, the sight of the plant in full bloom certainly helps to relief the stresses of modern life.

Borage is a large, rather ungainly plant. The stems and leaves are covered in stiff hairs, which give it a rough, but not prickly, feel. These hairs also give the plant a ‘frosted’ appearance. This contrasts well with the blue flowers, which have a hint of purple in them as they age. The black stamens in the centre of the flower add to its appearance. They are held on arching stems, which add to their attraction. Bees and other insects love these flowers and are constantly in attendance.

English: Borage, also known as

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There is a white-flowered variety, which also looks good against the apparently rime-covered leaves. Borago officinalis is an annual species, but for those who don’t want to re-sow plants each year, 8. pygmaea is a perennial species (also known as B. laxiflora). This is not so large or hairy as the annual. The growth is quite lax as it sprawls about, and it will readily climb through and over other plants. The flowers are a pale, much purer blue, without the black centre.

Transplant any seed-ings when they are young. It is suitable for use in a herb garden or in any border, herbaceous or mixed. If you intend using more than one plant, keep them about 45cm (18in) apart.

Full sun is preferred, but they will often sow themselves in light shade.

Rosettes over-wintering will tolerate Winter frosts.

Although this plant is erect, it can become a bit floppy, but there is rarely a need to stake it, as this habit suits its appearance.

Today, Borage is mainly used for its decorative qualities. The blue flowers can be sprinkled onto a wide range of salads, sweets and drinks. They can also be crystallized for use on cakes. When young, the leaves can be used in cold drinks.

It was the leaves and flowers, added to alcoholic drinks, that were used to make a person jolly or to give them courage.

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