September 11, 1995
Web posted at: 5:24 p.m. EDT (2115 GMT)
From Correspondent Linda Ciampa
HIGGANUM, Connecticut (CNN) -- Some believe the plants have mystical powers. Some say they can heal. And others simply love the fragrance, taste and history of herbs. Ragna Goddard of Sundial Herb Gardens has been tending to her herbal gardens in Higganum for 25 years. "When I walk through the gardens, each plant has a story that takes me back thousands of years, so plants have personalities," she said. Lamb's ear, for example, "is a plant that was actually used as a first aid, Band-Aid type thing in colonial gardens," she said.
Ragna grows a number of culinary herbs such as sage, thyme, peppermint, basil and the bitter-sweet wood betony. "If you lived around the time of Emperor Augustus and someone told you that you had as many virtues as betony, that would have been the finest compliment, this plant was so highly regarded," said Ragna, who drinks it as a tea for breakfast.
Another highly regarded herb: lavender. The fragrant herb is used not only in soaps and perfume, but also in food. Goddard's husband, Tom, uses lavender to add a delicate flavor to whipped cream. "Overnight now, the whipped cream and the lavender have been marinating -- it's good to do it as long as possible. Twenty-four hours is ideal," he said.
Lavender whipped cream complements a tea cake made with the herb sweet cicely. "What's nice about this particular herb," said Tom, "is if you want to cut down in your sugar consumption, this is marvelous for that. You don't have to use as much sugar." Goddard also garnishes his fruit tarts with herbs.
At their gardens in Connecticut, the Goddards have recreated an experience for their guests that was once only enjoyed by wealthy Europeans. "Prior to tea," says Ragna, "you would walk through the gardens and this is where it all began, you actually learned to tune into the fine sounds of the water, the scent of the flowers and herbs. With that experience you walk back to the tea room and enjoy the food."
A walk through an herbal garden along with afternoon tea -- taken together they can provide a tranquil retreat from an often loud and hectic world.
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