The Gardener's Kitchen: Yarrow
Yarrow in Naturalized setting
- Growing and Using Yarrow
Growing and using yarrow with tips and recipes for homemade cosmetics.
Yarrow or Achillea millefolium is a common plant found around the world in waste spaces, pastures, meadows, fields and lawns.
Yarrow has been with us for many centuries and was used by the Greeks to control hemorrhages.
This use of yarrow to control bleeding, traces back to the legend of Achilles. It was during the battle of Troy when Achilles healed many of his warriors with yarrow leaves and this is how the name Achillea came into being.
Some of the common names yarrow is known by also reflect this property; woundwort, nosebleed, soldier’s woundwort are examples.
The Druids used yarrow stems to divine the weather and in the I Ching it says that 52 straight stalks of yarrow, of even length, were cast to foretell the future. Today three coins are used.
Yarrow also is said to have magical properties and the Anglo-Saxons claimed that it possessed power over evil, while in France and Ireland it is one of the Herbs of Saint John.
Yarrow also has a place in folklore in both the United States and Britain with a saying that if a young girl tickles her nostrils with sprays of yarrow and her nose starts to bleed, this establishes her lover’s fidelity.
Yarrow grows prolifically and can soon take over a garden or lawn. If you wish to add this plant to your garden it may be best to select a cultivar to grow in containers where you can control its spread.
The young yarrow leaves may be used as a salad green to add a distinctive flavour to a tossed green salad or served with other wild greens such as plantain and dandelion leaves. A sprinkle of young yarrow leaves may dress up a potato salad.
Yarrow enjoys full sun and is ideal for that hot, dry, sunny spot where few other plants will thrive. Yarrow appreciates well drained soils.
This plant can handle neglect and the odd drying out; it will flop over if the neglect extends too long.
Yarrow is a good plant for the naturalized garden along with tulips and daffodils for example, be sure the area is large enough and if you are planning a naturalized garden in an urban setting please check your local bylaws before establishing it. A well drawn garden plan will help convince city officials that you are designing a naturalized garden and not simply trying to get out of cutting the area. Talk with your neighbours as well.
I have some yarrow growing in the backyard between the visible tree roots of the 100 year old maple that dominates the spot. It only reaches about one foot in height and looks good there but I do pull a few plants to keep the spread in check.