There is a whole list of plants I feel like I know well because I encountered them in literary works, but most of which I haven't actually seen until recently: hyssop, heliotrope, verbena, wallflower, camellia, primrose, jasmine, heather, wolfsbane. The list is actually much longer, but I'll stop here.

After years of gardening curiosity got the better of me and I started searching for these plants so that I could plant them in my back yard if the climate allows. That's how valerian ended up gracing the herb border.

It is a handsome plant whose delicate scent of green foliage and white flowers betrays no relationship to the notoriously pungent odor of its roots. Some people find the smell of valerian root simply revolting, others say it reminds them of violets; I wouldn't say either. It has a very distinctive palette that can't be mistaken for anything else and which is simply irresistible to cats.

Valerian root tincture is a well known herbal remedy for alleviating depression and anxiety, relieving pain and helping people fall asleep. It is generally considered safe unless your doctor says otherwise, but if you plan on using it, be advised that, just like it happens with garlic, its interesting smell will exude through your skin.

Since I'm not using it medicinally (I'd have to dig up said pungent roots, thus killing the plant), I delved into the symbolic realm and retrieved a bit of lore about valerian: it is said to turn adverse situations around and always bring out positive outcomes from any circumstances. Now I'm fiercely protective of this plant. Who says no to luck?

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”; "The Plant - A Steampunk Story"; "Letters to Lelia"; "Fair"; "Door Number Eight"; "A Year and A Day"; "Möbius' Code"; "Between Mirrors"
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: allyeargarden.com and theweeklygardener.com, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.