Aromatics: The Difference Between Dill and Fennel

Posted on: April 17th, 2017 by
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Fennel: Photo Credit Ernst W Breisacher ISP

Fennel: Photo Credit Ernst W Breisacher ISP

As a plant, and as an essential oil, dill and fennel can be easily confused. They both belong to the Apiaceae plant family but, although similar in appearance, have slightly (yet some similar) uses as an essential oil in aromatherapy practice. Here’s a closer look at these two plants and how they are both used aromatically.

Dill as a Plant

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a small annual or biennial herb with the common characteristics of plants of the Apiaceae plant family. It has feathery leaves, umbels of yellow flowers, and produces small flat seeds. Although the leaves of dill are very similar to those of fennel, dill leaves are slightly wider.

Fennel as a Plant

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a biennial or perennial herb with umbels of golden-yellow flowers, feathery leaves, and grooved seeds. Sweet fennel is the more common variety which is used for aromatic purposes and should not be confused with bitter fennel which usually grows wild.

Dill as an Essential Oil

Dill essential oil is extracted by steam distillation and produces either dill seed or dill weed essential oil, depending on the plant parts that are distilled. Dill seed essential oil has a light, spicy, warm aroma whereas dill weed essential oil is heavier, and sweet and spicy.

Dill seed essential oil is heavily composed of ketones (specifically carvone) and monoterpenes (limonene, phellandrene).1 Dill weed essential oil has similar chemical components but contains less carvone.2 Finally, there are several chemotypes of dill essential oil to consider.

Fennel as an Essential Oil

Sweet fennel essential oil is extracted via steam distillation of the seeds. It has a sweet, anise-like aroma, with hints of earthy pepper.

Sweet fennel essential oil is heavily composed of phenols (such as anethole) and monoterpenes (pinene, limonene, myrcene).1

Use of Dill and Fennel Essential Oils in Aromatherapy Practice

Dill essential oil is used for digestive issues, endocrine, and respiratory issues; these include indigestion, flatulence, amenorrhea, stimulation of milk production in nursing mothers, and as a stimulant in child birth. Due to this last action, it is advisable not to use dill essential oil in pregnancy.

Fennel essential oil is used for digestive issues, skin care, respiratory issues, and endocrine issues; these include indigestion, flatulence, constipation, amenorrhea, edema, mature skin issues, oily skin, rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma, menopausal problems, stimulation of milk production in nursing mothers, and as a stimulant in child birth. Again, fennel essential oil should be avoided in pregnancy. It should also not be used with babies and young children due to its reactive chemical content. Avoid in epilespy, too.

Dill and fennel essential oil have some similar uses in aromatherapy, as members of the same botanical family, but note the difference in chemical components, and use accordingly. In addition, the particular chemotype of dill essential oil used will dictate its primary use.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

Consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM program to learn more about essential oils and they are used in aromatic practice!

References:

  1. Caddy, Rosemary, 1997, Essential Oils in Colour, UK: Amberwood Publishing Ltd.

  2. Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry, a UK-certified aromatherapist, published author in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, a consultant, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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Sedona Aromatics Retreat and Workshop 2017: Secrets from the Aromatic Garden and Stillroom

Posted on: April 10th, 2017 by
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Sedona Aromatics Retreat and Workshop in Sedona Arizona

Sedona Aromatics Retreat and Workshop in Sedona Arizona

I am very excited to announce that I will be holding my first two day aromatics retreat and workshop here in Sedona, Arizona in September 2017! It will probably come as no surprise to my followers on Instagram and Facebook that I will finally be sharing my aromatic garden in person, after all the inspiring photos I have been posting over the past year. However, here are the details, if you what to attend!

Two Day Aromatics Workshop in Sedona

The workshop is located at the Sedona Aromatherapie studio and garden, which is situated on my one acre original homestead property, just a five minute drive out of Sedona city limits, but a world away from the ever-expanding tourism of the area.

The aromatics retreat and workshop will include a live distillation of plant material, including collection of the plant material from the property, hands-on experience in identifying various aromatic plants in the garden, recording that information and relating it to the essential oil or hydrosol, and a lesson (or two) in aromatic blending, based on information I have learned over the years from real-life projects. You will also create a couple of aromatic products in the Sedona Aromatherapie studio from my personal collection of aromatic oils and materials.

I do not believe in large class sizes for learning and prefer one-on-one learning wherever possible. For this reason, among other practical reasons, the aromatics retreat and class will be limited to a maximum of just five students. It is my intention that by the end of the two day workshop, you will be more familiar both with the plants and oils, me, and your classmates, and hopefully forge some lastin partnerships to further your interests and/or work.

Plants studied include:

  • juniper berry

  • cypress

  • Lamiaceae plants such as the mints, oregano, and sage

  • borage

  • rose/s

  • echinacea

  • other aromatic herbs and plants according to season.

Please note that weather and season may dictate changes to this schedule.

Cost of Introductory Sedona Aromatics Retreat and Workshop 2017

People with an interest in aromatherapy (including aromatherapists), aromatic plants, gardeners, and fledging distillers are welcome to attend!

Introductory price for the two day workshop (until May 31 2017) is $350. This includes lunch both days and all refreshments, and materials required for the course. You are responsible for travel and accommodation costs and arrangements. Attendees will receive a certificate of completion and workshop workbook to take home, in addition to a few other aromatic surprises!

Spaces are limited (and have already started to fill up), so if you would like to attend, visit the website and reserve your spot in class today! Unconfirmed places (ie those not paid in full or secured with a non-refundable deposit) cannot be held without payment.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me! I look forward to seeing you there!

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A Sensory Garden with Fragrant Plants

Posted on: April 3rd, 2017 by
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Roses for a Sensory Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All rights Reserved

Roses for a Sensory Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All rights Reserved

A sensory garden is a garden that is designed to stimulate all of of basic senses: Sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. Fragrant plants are an ideal addition to such a garden as, although we often just think about the aromas of fragrant plants, aromatic plants can also stimulate by touch, taste, sight, and sound.

Helen Keller (1880- 1968), is quoted as writing1, that it is others who are actually blind “….for they have no idea how fair the flower is to the touch, nor do they appreciate its fragrance, which is the soul of the flower.” This remarkable lady found ways to communicate with the world around her, despite her disabilities.

Aroma-therapy for the Five Senses in a Sensory Garden

A growing discipline in the garden world is that of horticulture therapy. Hortilculture therapy allows people to become actively involved in designing and growing their own plants through various projects.

Gardens for the blind are created in various forms; some use touch, whereas others use fragrance to stimulate the senses. Taste is also important (in the area of fragrant herbs), as is the rustle of the wind in the garden, a fountain, birds chirping, and the sound of feet on crunchy gravel. For the deaf and those who suffer from anosmia (loss of the sense of smell), the color of fragrant flowers is more important.

Plants and Flowers for a Sensory Garden

There are a number of aromatic plants and flowers which can be used for a sensory garden. I have divided suitable plants and flowers into different sections for each of the five senses for ease, but many can be combined:

  • Taste: A lot of the aromatic herbs are suitable for tasting in the garden such as basil, peppermint, thyme, oregano, sweet marjoram, melissa and more. Taste is closely linked to our sense of smell and may heighten our experience of an aromatic plant.

  • Touch: The texture of aromatic plants varies widely; some are smooth, some are shiny, some are hairy, some are soft. Leaves and flowers vary in shape, too. To really get to know an aromatic plant, touch its leaves and foliage and learn its shape, feel, and size. Plants which are good to get to know using this method are: Sunflowers, borage (caution: possible skin irritation), basil, geranium, rosemary, and rose (caution: thorns).

  • Color (Sight): Some animals and birds are attracted to certain plants because of their color. Colorful aromatic plants in the garden include: Geranium, sunflower, rose, larkspur, echinacea, borage, bee balm and more.

  • Smell (Aroma): Aromatic plants vary in aroma in the garden; some are strong, but most are subtle. The more plants you have, the greater the possibility of increased aroma; for example, roses. Some plants only give off an aroma when their leaves or flowers are crushed.

  • Hearing: Although hearing doesn’t relate directly to aromatic plants, it is important to the overall experience of a sensory garden. Think about running water, rustling leaves, and wind chimes.

Fragrant Trees for a Sensory Garden

In addition to the smaller plants and herbs, trees can also stimulate the senses in the garden. Aromatic trees include orange, lemon, pine and cypress. The citrus trees are usually found in warmer climates whereas those trees such as pine and Christmas tree firs are found in colder climates.

Designing a Sensory Garden with Fragrant Plants

This article is a very brief introduction to using fragrant plants in a sensory garden. Watch this space for further information on the subject! In the meantime, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of Aromatics Program to learn more about aromatic oils! Visit the courses home page to learn more.

References:

  1. Keller, Helen, To Love This Life: Quotations by Helen Keller, AFB Press 2000

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry, a UK-certified aromatherapist and, published author in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, a consultant, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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Three Simple Aromatic Blends from the Garden

Posted on: March 27th, 2017 by
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Chamomile can be used in aromatic bath teas, and infused oils: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Chamomile can be used in aromatic bath teas, and infused oils: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

In the final post of my trilogy on the aromatic garden, I am sharing with you three simple aromatic blends that can be created directly from your garden! From the planting of the first seed, through the aromas enjoyed within your garden, to the harvesting of the aromatic supplies, your aromatic garden rewards you in many ways. Here’s how you can create some aromatic garden blends to take some of your garden indoors!

Aromatic Bath Tea

You might not be as familiar with aromatc bath teas as you are with aromatic bath salts. However, aromatic bath teas are a throw back to earlier times, when people gathered aromatic plants directly from their garden and used them in their still room.

Bath teas can be made with any scented garden material. If you have the time, gather the plant material prior to making the tea, and lay it out to dry on tissue paper, as described in this post. Suggested plants to use for your aromatic bath tea include peppermint, lavender, spearmint, rosemary (which doesn’t require the same amount of “drying out”), melissa, or any of the other aromatic herbs that you find in your herb garden. Create your aromatic blends to suit your mood!

Add enough dried plant material to fill a cotton muslin drawstring bath or a tea ball. Hang the bag or the ball around the faucet and under the running water as you draw your bath; or allow it to “steep” in the water for about five minutes. Store the remaining herbs in an airtight glass jar.

A suggested aromatic bath tea blend is:

  • 1 part melissa leaves

  • 1 part spearmint leaves

  • 2 parts lavender buds and leaves.

Aromatic Infused Body Oil

I discussed how to make a peppermint-infused oil before but there are many other plants that you can use to make aromatic body oils. Infused body oils are not the same as essential oils. A base oil is infused with the aroma of the chosen plant material and not extracted through distillation, expression, or CO2 extraction like the majority of essential oils.

Apply your infused body oil after your aromatic bath to soothe skin and to keep it healthy. A skin-friendly aromatic oil for this purpose is:

  • 2 parts melissa leaves

  • 2 parts rose petals

  • fill up a quart jar with apricot or cherry kernel base oil.

Follow the instructions for making an infused oil in the previous post mentioned.

Aromatic Pot Pourri Mix

There really is no wrong way to make pot pourri! I remember pot pourri from my childhood and the dried plant material which was used in it varied a lot. Basically, you need to dry out your chosen herbs and/or aromatic plants, as instructed previously, crush them with a mortar and pestle (or simply crush them in your hands if they are pliable), mix, and add to a bowl. Add an essential oil blend for added fragrance.

A sample pot pourrri aromatic blend is:

  • 1 part dried rose buds

  • 1 part dried lavender buds and leaves

  • 2 parts dried mix of culinary herbs – spicy herbs like Holy basil, basil, and oregano will add an interesting twist!

  • 5 drops of geranium essential oil.

A Healing Garden in Your Back Yard

To learn more about how an aromatic garden can enhance your life, don’t miss out on my NAHA webinar in April on A Healing Garden in Your Back Yard. See you there!

References:

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry, an aromatherapist, a budding aromatic gardener, a photographer, a published author and editor in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business consultant, scent formulator, an aromatherapy school program coordinator, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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How Aroma Plays a Role in the Healing Garden

Posted on: March 20th, 2017 by
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The Healing Garden: Photo Copyrights Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

The Healing Garden: Photo Copyrights Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

In the second part of my aromatic garden trilogy of posts, I am today writing about how aroma plays a role in the healing garden. Although it may sound obvious to some, the role of aroma in the garden, to me, works in conjunction with all of our other senses, too. Aroma also might be more subtle than when we use it in the form of essential oils and hydrosols – but it is there. Today’s post is written from my heart as part of my own healing journey.

The Scientific Approach: The Role of Aroma

We know that some aromas make us feel good while others may remind us of something not so pleasant. The olfactory area of the cerebrum (an area of the brain) receives impulses from the olfactory nerves in the nose and interprets them as smell. The hippocampus, part of the limbic system within the brain, may play a role in forming these “memory” odors.1 Certainly, the aroma of roses may be pleasant to some, while for others it might be a memory of something they would rather forget. The aroma is the same – but perceived differently, depending upon which memory that particular aroma invokes.

The Role of the Five Senses in the Healing Garden

Aroma in the healing garden is meant to be a pleasurable experience – something to think about when designing your healing garden, in view of the last statement above.

But the five senses combined totally enhance your healing garden experience. Here’s some examples of how each of these senses impact your encounter in the garden:

  • fragrant flowers and herbs such as rose, peppermint, hyacinth, lilac, lavender, thyme, and more contribute to a well thought-out healing garden. Some aromas, such as rose, may be more potent than the smaller herb aromas which may require the interaction of touch and taste to fully experience them. Just pay attention to any cautions before touching and tasting plants in the garden!

  • Think about the types of aromas you prefer and add those plants to your garden. For example: Rose, hyacinth, and lilac for seductive, floral aromas vs. mint, rosemary and thyme for herbaceous (yet sometimes spicy) aromas.

  • Some flowers and plants are more visually appealing than aromatic. For example, sunflowers – which I like to call the “happy flowers” of the garden – do not have any aroma but visually they brighten up the garden with their “sunny” apppearance. Oil is extracted from sunflower seeds and used in aromatherapy but, in this instance, the color and apppearance of the sunflower is more healing than the seeds. My Visionary ScentTMnotecards were created with this in mind.

  • Sounds such as birds chirping, messing around in the bird bath, and running water such as fountains and waterfalls contribute to the healing environment of the garden. You may prefer the sound of wind chimes – or even the sound of silence itself.

  • The design of the garden may impact your healing process. Whereas some people – like me – prefer the “messy,” uncultured style of a cottage garden, others may prefer the clipped borders and hedges of a more formal garden. Think about what you would like to see – and what will heal you – as you take a well-earned rest in your garden chair!

Aroma-Therapy in Conjunction with Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural therapy engages a person in gardening to help them to achieve therapeutic goals with regard to a health condition (physical or emotional). A trained horticultural therapist can assist a person in doing this. Combine horticultural therapy specifically with aroma-therapy plants and you have two types of therapies working together. Many gardeners have practiced this type of “therapy” for years, perhaps unconsciously, but understanding the therapeutic value of the (aromatic) garden.

Personally, my garden has been a huge part of my healing journey and, although I didn’t consciously set out to “heal” myself with my aromatic garden, I have found invaluable support from it – either sitting drinking a cup of tea and planning the next phase, or putting real blood, sweat, and tears into it.

If you would like to learn more about how to integrate aromatic plants (and which ones) into your own garden, sign up for my April NAHA webinar on A Healing Garden in Your Back Yard!

Happy aromatic gardening!

References:

  1. Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Certificate in Professional Aromatherapy 2014 Sedona, Arizona

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry, an aromatherapist, a budding aromatic gardener, a photographer, a published author and editor in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business consultant, scent formulator, an aromatherapy school program coordinator, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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Four Recommendations for Aromatic Seed Suppliers

Posted on: March 13th, 2017 by
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Aromatic Seed Suppliers for an Aromatic Garden: Copyright Sharon Falsetto

Aromatic Seed Suppliers for an Aromatic Garden: Copyright Sharon Falsetto

My garden is literally buzzing with the sound of spring today: the birds are chirping, the bees are humming, and the spring flowers are blooming. Summer will not be far behind – and, here in northern Arizona, that means I need to start sowing seeds in the garden next month! This year, I have sourced my aromatic seeds from various trusted resources and in this post, I am sharing my thoughts about them with you.

Floret Flower Farm for Aromatic Flowers

I discovered the magic of Floret Flowers through a mutual Facebook friend, and I have followed their stunning Instagram feed for the past year. I was truly inspired by this family-owned business and the beautiful flowers they grew on their farm in Skagit Valley, Washington.

Last Fall I bought some narcissus, anemone, and tulip bulbs for my garden and they are just starting to push through. So, early this year, I ordered some of their aromatic seed offerings, inlcuding traditional cottage garden flowers such as stock, sweet pea, larkspur, and phlox, in addition to flowering tobacco, nasturtium and sunflower.

Floret seeds are not organically certified – but if you are looking to support a family-owned business and want some truly inspirational, aromatic flowers in your garden, look no further. Browse their Instagram feed for verification and inspiration!

Botanical names are included on seed packet descriptions.

For further information: Floret Flowers.

Botanical Interests® for Aromatic Herbs

Last year, I bought most of my aromatic herbs, flowers, and vegetable seeds from Botanical Interests®, located in Oregon. You may be familiar with this brand of seeds, as I have found them on the seed rack of my local garden center, too.

What I love most about Botanical Interests® is the amount of information contained both on the outside and inside of their seed packets! They are a mini-booklet on the plant itself. With descriptions, tips on sowing, what to expect and when, you can’t go far wrong even as a beginning gardener!

Some seeds are organically certified and some are heirloom seeds, but even those which are not, appear to be of high quality – all seed packets claim to be untreated with no GMOs. You can find all of your popular herbs and more from this company: Marjoram, basil, peppermint, oregano, rosemary, sage…the list goes on and on. I will not list all of the seeds I bought from Botanical Interests® except to say – there were many!

Botanical names are included on seed packet descriptions.

For further information: Botanical Interests®.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for Organic Herbs and Flowers

I discovered Southern Exposure Seed Exchange this year because I was looking to grow sweet potatoes and this was one of the few companies which I could find that offered them. Sweet potatoes aside, this company offers “heirloom and organic seeds from a cooperatively run business.”

I found some old-fashioned cottage garden varieties such as hollyhock, larkspur, and nictionana, in addition to calendula, echinacea, feverfew, and St. Johnswort.

Some botanical names are included on seed packet descriptions, whereas others are not provided.

For further information: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Strictly Medicinal® Seeds (Formerly Horizon Herbs) for Hard-to-Find Medicinal Herbs

This southern Oregon business is also family-owned and operated and has been operating for many years under the name Horizon Herbs; it recently changed its name to Strictly Medicinal® Seeds.

As well as familiar-sounding herbs, I also discovered some less familiar-sounding herbs, and harder-to-find herbs, with this company. I invested in the following seeds from Strictly Medicinal® Seeds: Mountain arnica, aromatic aster, bergamot (bee balm), borage, cornflower, elecampane, gardenia, helichrysum, clary sage, and stevia.

Many seeds are organic, although you need to read individual descriptions. Botanical names are included on seed packet descriptions.

For further information: Strictly Medicinal® Seeds.

A Healing Garden with Aromatic Flowers and Herbs

These are just my favorite recommended aromatic seed suppliers for this year. I am already investigating others for next year! All of them supply more than just aromatic seeds, but these were the ones I was specifically looking to list in conjunction with this post.

However big or small your garden is, aromatic herbs and flowers can form a part of it, to bring pleasure and healing into your life! To learn more, don’t miss out on my NAHA webinar in April on A Healing Garden in Your Back Yard. See you there!

References:

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry, an aromatherapist, a budding aromatic gardener, a photographer, a published author and editor in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business consultant, scent formulator, an aromatherapy school program coordinator, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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