Camomile

(Chamaemelum nobile) Camomile is rarely used for lawns these days, but was in Elizabethan times. Even turfed seats made of it were garden features (Rohde. 1936). Shakespeare has Falstaff say (Henry VI, pt 1) "For though camomile, the more it is trodden, the faster it grows; yet youth, the more it is wasted, the faster it wears". But by his time that had become proverbial. Dyer's rendering was:

Like a camomile bed,

The more it is trodden,

The more it will spread.

That must be the reason why it symbolizes energy in adversity (Leyel. 1937). Gardeners looked on camomile as a "plant physician", restoring to health any sickly plant near which it grew (Bardswell). Of course, one had to be judicious in its use. It should only be put near the ailing plant for a short time; if the camomile clump grew too big, it had to be moved, otherwise the other plant would weaken again, "as though the patient had become over-dependent on the doctor and tiresomely hypochondriac" (Leyel. 1937). Camomile was the principal ingredient (along with ground ivy and pellitory-of-the-wall) in Elizabethan

Camomile

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