New to the garden this year, lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) is not well known, but it is a beautiful addition to our herb garden. The botanical name means little magical one. Medieval alchemists believed the plant had magical powers and gathered the dew drops captured by the leaves to make potions they thought could cure a wide variety of ailments. Early Christians dedicated it to the Virgin Mary because they thought the scalloped edge of the leaves resembled the edge of her cloak. Since it was considered sacred to Mary, it was traditionally used to treat many female complaints.
Lady’s mantle is cold hardy in zones 3 to 9. Woldumar is zone 5, but getting closer to zone 6 with global warming. This plant grows best in rich, moist, well-drained soil, but it is tolerant enough to survive in the heavy soil in the Moon Cabin herb garden. The mature plant can be 32 inches wide and high. The leaves have deep folds that unfurl in rosettes. These folds capture the beads of dew. Lady’s mantle is a beautiful chartreuse green with yellowish-green flower sprays that last all summer. The flowers can be dried to add to arrangements. Sometimes added to salads, the young leaves have a mildly bitter flavor. The leaves can also be used to dye wool green. There will still be warm-enough days for you to check out this new addition. It, like most of the plants in the garden, has a marker showing the common name and the botanical Latin name.