This Article COPYRIGHT Jan. 1988. Nicholas Morcinek. First published in Toronto Dimensions

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This Article COPYRIGHT Jan. 1988. Nicholas Morcinek. First published in Toronto Dimensions magazine Feb. 1988. If you would like more info please write: Botanic Medicine Society. P.O. Box 82. Stn. A. Willowdale, Ont. CANADA. M2N 5S7. Well here we are again, February already and before too long the Spring and Summer and a whole new crop of fresh herbs to waken up those flat and jaded Winter taste buds! Can't you just feel the taste of Spring in the air? Yes I do realise that its not too easy, particularly if you're driving through a white-out on the Don Valley Car Park, but one month from now will see the first stirrings of the new Season. (O.k. so I'm an incurable optimist!). However, just in case you're not feeling so good here's a tip to help you through 'til March. If you really do feel down and grumpy there's no better pick me up than a walk in the garden and if you live in Toronto you can do exactly that! Just pop down to the Allen Gardens at Carlton Street and Sherbourne, and spend an afternoon surrounded by exotic and fragrant plants. The Gardens have many varieties that were originally collected from every Continent and it is easy to imagine yourself luxuriating in a tropical paradise in no time at all. You can see and smell the aromatic Jasmine, a plant that has a long history of medicinal use. You will find the flowers in China tea, and in all sorts of Asian herbal potions, where their fragrance is used as a "pick-me-up" or tonic. Just a few drops of Oil of Jasmine rubbed into the skin or dropped into the bath can work wonders, lifting away that tired and run-down feeling! You may find Pomegranates from the Middle East, (still used today to destroy intestinal parasites), and Carob, grown for its' food value and delectable chocolate-like flavour. If you travel deeper into this contained jungle you can find Orchids and Date Palms, Papyrus and Eucalyptus and dozens of varieties of Peppers and Spice. If you are lucky you may spot the Piper Methyisticum, or "intoxicating pepper". It's a pity this fellow doesn't grow here in Canada as it makes an interesting anti-depressant when correctly prepared. The whole root is collected and mashed well together with Coconut milk to form a thin paste. This is then placed in clean sealed containers and left in a cool place to ferment for about a month, whereupon the mixture is ready to drink. The effect is quite unusual, for the active ingredients in this mixture seem to directly affect the feeling centres of the brain, producing a warm and gently serene sensation of well- being. Just what we all need in the middle of a long Canadian winter eh! Seriously though a walk through the Gardens can be an uplifting experience particularly at this time of year. If you take along a good herb book, (e.g. A Modern Herbal- Mrs. M. Grieve), you can check out some of the uses for the plants that you see, and it becomes very easy to spend the entire day there. ( You could take your camera ). Oh and unlike so many of Toronto's expositions there's no charge to get in! "Where can I find a good herb class?" If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked this question..... There are many "so- called" herb classes that offer only dry text, with no emphasis placed on plant recognition, or harvesting from the wild and so students inevitably feel disappointed and cheated. Finally though, I can feel confident in recommending a new series of classes being provided here in Toronto by members of the Botanic Medicine Society. These classes are given by full-time professional herbalists and cover all aspects of practical herbalism, from plant recognition to clinical assessment. Classes start the first week in March. For more details regarding syllabus and enrolment please call (416) 221-1662, or (416) 534- 0622. Next issue looks at readers letters so if you have any questions about herbs and herbalism please write to me here at T.D. See you in the Spring!

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