A HOUSE FULL OF HERBS

Just lately it’s all been about herbs, harvesting them from the garden, drying them, putting them in oil, making powder and so fort. It has been a busy but rewarding time. I’ve learnt a lot more about Dandelion plants and this means that the Dandelion is now been promoted to a primary plant in our garden. Luckily we have a lot of them as I’ve always been reluctant to pull them up from among the other vegetables. Now they have gained a firm status of valuable nutritional source. So far I have dried roots and leaves. The roots are for tea and the leaves are for either a soak in water overnight making a cool drink, or to be grinded into powder to add a touch to soups. I am looking forward to spring when I will use some of the flowers when baking biscuits, only some though as they are earmarked mainly as food for the bees. Nettles are another good source of minerals and they have been growing so well this past summer in our garden. I’ve harvested many and again grinded some into powder for the soups and will use the leaves for a green drink.

Dandelion leaves
Sometimes I hang my herbs, but mostly now I dry them in the oven with the pilot light on and the oven door a little ajar.

Just recently I had bought the long desired book by Rosalee De La Foret: ‘Alchemy of Herbs’, and I am finding it a brilliant work. So much information, and beautiful photography too. As well as this book I have once again signed on to Herb mentor from Learning Herbs, it’s an amazing informative website and course, a hands on type of learning which is great fun as well as being very interesting. (It’s online; https://learningherbs.com/herbmentor/)

A start in making use of Dandelions in different ways.
I’ve got two different types of Oregano and they grow so very well. There is the variegated Mediterranean type with white flowers, so loved by the bees, and the all green regular one with the pink flowers, which this one is. A lovely herb.

All these herbs are humble plants, many of them are even considered to be weeds by some people. I’m so very grateful that they come growing in my garden. Some, like the Yarrow, plantain and violets grow in the boreen close to where we live. On my walks I always keep an eye out for useful wild plants in case I should ever need them, then I know where to find them.

We may be very thankful for the wealth of wild plants and herbs in our gardens.

A SINGULAR BEAUTY

This is a flower of one of the hypericums and it came growing in our front garden sharing a tub with another shrub. I only discovered it a few days ago and it’s made me very happy because I thought that this plant, which I used to grow many years ago, had totally disappeared from our garden. My flower identification app tells me that it is hypericum perforatum. A first I could not see the little perforations in the leaves and there was no reddish juice to be seen when I crushed a leaf. So there was a question of whether the identification was right. But when I enlarged my photos of the leaves I could clearly see the little perforations, so yes I agree that it is H.perforatum. Decades ago I used to make hypericum oil and we used to use it for nerve pain in the legs, the hypericum would colour the oil slightly red. I love this little plant and I think that it will turn out to be very useful.
Its leaves.

ABUNDANT FLORA IN JANUARY

Just while walking along one road, the coast road of my walk on the first of this year, I found so many wild plants in flower that I would like to share a gallery of them. Meanwhile I am doing some research on them individually and have already come across some interesting facts. It is a great pleasure to become more intimately connected with the Mediterranean flora and to learn more about them. While I was young I studied botany with a teach yourself book, but right during my life-time wild plants, flowers and herbs, and their medicinal and other properties have been of great interest to me, and it gives me great pleasure to learn more about this all the time. By observation as much as by reading, researching and learning about them. The beauty of these wild flowers and the joy of finding them along a walk cannot be underestimated in everyday life, I feel very grateful to have the opportunity.

SAGE GARLAND

Today I decided that it was time to cut down my very large Sage plant so that the young shoots could start to grow and produce more harvest for the coming season. I gathered it all inside and started to divide it in branches that I wanted to dry for use to burn as cleansers around the room after the winter, and lots of the leaves to use as tea and make a tincture or use in various other ways, like cooking. I would use a leaf of Sage to put in the pan if ever I fry something, but I also use it in soups and in other meals. According to a variety of sources, and one of them is my Herbal course; http://www.herbmentor.com there is a wide variety that Sage can be used for. In the medieval times it used to be said, I quote; “why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?”. Yes, Sage has many medicinal qualities, it is an astringent herb and has antiseptic qualities.  Among other things It is believed that as an herbal steam it can help to decongest the sinuses and loosen congestion in the lungs.

Anyway, I was sitting with all this Sage for a long time, plucking the leaves and cleaning it ready for drying, it was a satisfactory job to do today, the scent of the Sage hit my nostrils and that was pleasant, it reminded me of being in Portugal last year and how the herbal scents would be so strong and lovely there, of course the sun would bring the scents out.
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So now the branches are hanging up to dry.

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These are the leaves for tea, use in cooking or gargles and other uses.

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The garland of Sage is making this room feel rather nice, it is all part of living rural, and of using the bit of garden to grown our own produce including herbs.  So satisfying, interesting, and wonderful.

GORSE SYRUP & THE BOOK “WILD FOOD”

Recently I have had a book out from the library called “Wild Food” written by Biddy White Lennon, and Evan Doyle, a brilliant little book (256pages) and I have found it very interesting and useful. It features many recipes of wild foods, and great recipes on preserving wild berries and other fruits. I received copyright (for one month) to copy one of its more intriguing recipes, which I am certainly going to try out soon.
The plant Gorse (Ulex Europaeus,Linn) which grows abundantly here in West Cork, has a lovely scent and bright yellow coloured flowers, and it is shown to have more uses than one. In the above mentioned book it has a recipe for Gorse syrup made of the flowers. But the plant is also known for it’s bright yellow dye also made from the flowers, I personally have also heard of it’s use in soap making and for making tea.

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The Gorse flower

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