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The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun, And with him rises weeping; these are flowers Of middle summer .
Throughout this period, lavender was employed principally as a domestic household item and as a medicinal agent. It was also occasionally used for culinary purposes, especially as a flavouring for vinegar. The dried powder was sometimes added to dishes as a condiment to ‘comfort the stomach’, and Queen Elizabeth I apparently enjoyed a conserve of lavender.
William Turner, often called the Father of English Botany, wrote a pioneering work on herbalism between 1538 and 1568 which he dedicated to Elizabeth I. In this New Herball he recommended true lavender for all diseases of the brain that ‘come of a cold cause’, and lavender water for ‘dulness of the head’.
All the early European herbalists were in general agreement that true lavender was particularly effective for nervous complaints, and that its fragrance alone could combat melancholy and comfort and revive the spirits. John Gerard, writing at the end of the 16th century, claimed that:
The distilled water of lavender smelt unto, or the temples and forehead bathed therewith, is a refreshing to them that have the Catalepsy, a light migram, and to them that have the falling sicknesse, and that use to swoune much .4 while 50 years later, John Parkinson confirmed that lavender was ‘especiall good use for all griefes and paines of the head and brain’. In Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, the well-known astrologically based treatise first published in 1652, the author describes lavender in the following terms: