Romeo and Juliet, true love?
Are Romeo and Juliet really the most romantic of all lovers? Or is their love more folly, infatuation and teenage angst?
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
This plant will be considered little better than a weed by many modern gardeners because it spreads so easily and can become invasive. However, to our ancestors it was an extremely useful addition to the garden - and not just for its flowers. The fresh green leaves of tansy are some of the first to appear in the early spring, and added to pottage were considered a 'spring tonic' potherb - a valuable source of vitamin C after months on a diet of mainly preserved and dried food. The plant even gives its name to a particular springtime recipe - a tansy was similar to an omelette, but the beaten eggs were thickened with flour and then flavoured with enough ground tansy that it coloured the mixture green. Sometimes other herbs were substituted but the dish was still called a tansy. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME - tansy is an extremely bitter plant and we only use it in our cooking in very small amounts when the leaves are very young. In large doses it had a medicinal use - as a purge, so be warned! When it flowers in the summer tansy produces masses of small yellow flowers which make a lovely yellow dye used for the clothing and textiles of the time. And finally, as the leaves become increasingly large, old and bitter, bunches were picked to hang at doorways and windows, and placed under mattresses to keep vermin and bugs away.