The other day I finished work early and came home to evening twilight. It was still light enough to see and I went clamoring around my neighbor's garden looking for weeds. I've been inviting myself into her garden, you see, and I fully expected to see her coming out to talk to me and see what invaders I'd removed from her lawn and her precious garden! But no, she was off this weekend to the country with her son, a stay-cation well-spent with the family.
I found some Malva growing on her lawn and some large Galinsoga, or Gallant Soliders (also called Quickweed), growing in a shady corner of the garden. I spotted a few large Strawberry leaves, but they didn't call me much to pick them.
Then I moseyed on to the front of her garden, close to the street, where I knew I would find some large Violet leaves hiding below some hedges. Lo and behold, what else did my little eyes spy? Some bright purple flashes of color that on closer inspection..was it? Really? Oh yes, indeed! Prunella!
I've written about Self-Heal before and I just love making an infusion with her. She helps to mop up fat and get the lymphatic system cleaned out, pipes that so few of really consider nowadays. But alas, she is also considered an alterative, so she does help with overall functioning of the body and that means that she is a gentle tonic that nourishes all bodily systems. That also means you can take her every day as a nourishing infusion :)
I ended up crouching down to pick up a good bunch of bright flowers and did indeed find some Violet leaves under the bushes as well as just in front of the bushes. The ones in the sun were light green whereas the ones in the shade were a lovely shade of dark green...It got me thinking suddenly that I need (and want!) to visit Buckthorn woods, where there were several Violet plants that had the largest leaves I've seen yet. They were growing on the edge of the trail, but still quite in the shade under large trees. Prunella also grows there, as well as Plantain. I've been able to find quite a few Plantain plants these year, but as always the leaves are so small! The leaves in the woods, just like with Prunella, are given their full way to reach their potential, and I love the shiny energy that smiles back at me when I pick those leaves!
Oooh, writing about Buckthorn Woods and my plant friends is getting me so excited! I haven't spent much time out in the woods and forests, especially with all this rain! It's just been one day of rain after another, or a day of sun followed by a day of rain. Bah! I need 2-3 days of no rain if I want to collect herbs! They have to be dry, not all soggy and wet!
In any case, I will have to plan a day where I can get to some fields and collect a large bunch of Red Clover. She is a pricey herb in the shops, just like Stinging Nettle. Speaking of which, when I visited Bellefield, they had chopped many of the Nettle plants close to the ground, so I am hoping I will be able to collect a good bunch when they regrow come the fall! Otherwise, I would like to collect the ones in seed now and get them juiced or steam them and throw them into the blender for a delish veggie smoothie! Yep, Stinging Nettle takes like a mean green spinach substitute, very high in iron. You can also make dry her leaves and take an infusion or her daily: 2 cups of Nettle to 4 cups water in a 1-liter mason jar. Put this into infusion into your water bottle, you can dilute if it's too strong. It's like drinking liquid chlorophyll instead of water, and nettle is high in calcium, protein, silicon, magnesium and many of the other trace minerals. A prized herb to be sure to have around with whatever the season!
At the bus depot the other day, I took several pics of wild plants all around. There was:
Liver Cleansing Tea Recipe
I've been making a delish infusion lately of equal amounts Violet, Prunella and White Clover (trifolium repens). I also add in a few TBsp of Dandy root and Burdock root and a good fistful of dried Nettle. This makes a great liver cleansing/tonifying tea :) You can drink it as is or use it as the liquid in smoothie recipes. I've even used the liquid from this infusion to make hot chocolate and to make regular orange pekoe tea! Plus, you can even use the liquid as a fertilizer for your plants! Use about 1/4 the tea and then fill up the rest of the watering can with water :)
Since I'll be visiting Buckthorn Woods soon, I expect I will also be running into Goldenrod, whom I saw blooming in someone's front garden the other day, and Wild Aster. Both have edible leaves and medicinal properties, and I'll tell you about those next time around ---well, after I've visited the woods first ;)
In ending this post, I have decided that instead of sharing ALL the plants that I've planted in my balcony garden (information overload!!), I will discuss 3 of them at a time in a future post.
Pray for sunshine, sunshine, because the late summer season is almost here and shiny plant friends are waiting to be seen and enjoyed. Stay bright! :)
PS. I've posted some pics below!! :]
So happy I was able to return to Bellefield!
I spotted 2 new flowers and when I went to explore them, oopsy! almost fell into the stream as they were growing on a little hill. One of them had but one orange flower left and the other I think mighta been Joe-pye weed, but I have to check again.
Got some more Turtlehead. So funny that you go back to the same place and everything seems to have changed. I never noticed that there was more than 1 Turtlehead plant, but there were a few!
The Blue Vervain has really come out now, and I collected many flowering tops. Meanwhile Red Clover is on her way out. I saw a few plants that were completely spent with others having rusty flowers. I collected a bit of flowers and leaves, but not much, a little more than a tray in the Excalibur.
Got some more Yarrow, including the pink ones. So many of them! And lots still with buds, so there will definitely be more Yarrow in my future.
Wild Carrot flowers. Tons of those, too, and I'm hoping to make that jello recipe I was tellin' y'all in last week's post. Had to check every flower's underside before picking, because there were spiders, ants and red bugs a-plenty.
Got some Muggie, Mugwort. She's in flower now and she grows prolifically! The ones I collected were taller than me, probably 7 feet :0 . Yep, she's a tall one, all right.
Got some Motherwort and made me a tincture with vodka. Not fond of doing tinctures, in fact it was my first. But I decided to give it the go-ahead after reading Susan's Weeds notes on tonifying the uterus to get rid of PMS and dysmenorrhea. Very simple to do:
Cut off the top 1/3 part of motherwort when in flower (the flowering tops). You'll need a few plants to fill if you want to fill a 1-liter ja
Wear gloves, as motherwort has prickly bits. Still wearing gloves, chop motherwort into small bits. Add to mason jar, slightly packed. Pour 80-100 proof vodka to top. Put on lid and screw cap and let sit in the cupboard for 6 weeks. Strain and store liquid in dark amber bottles, preferably with a dropper attached to the lid.
Take 10-30 drops daily for 4 months. This will tonify the uterus so that you won't have that big bloated belly, heavy feeling in your body, or get PMS.
I collected a few too may plants, so ended up making one with 1/2 water and 1/2 alcohol (we'll see how that goes) and another with apple cider vinegar.
Yes, you can easily make herbal, nourishing vinegars with all kinds of leaves. The minerals in the leaves go into the vinegar and the next time you have salad, it's all that mineral goodness happenin' your way!
Easy Herbal Vinegar
Cut leaves with scissors. Leaves you can use (most of these are probably growing on your lawn) include
You can use any combination you wish. Add slightly packed to a mason jar to the top (mason jars come in various sizes, so use the one that fits how much leaves you've collected). Pour apple cider vinegar with "mother" to the top, put on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain using a nut milk bag or a fieve sieve. Use as you would for dressing over salads. Pair with oil, if desired.
I also collected...wait for it...Bull Thistles. I've read that they are edible and since I have heavy duty gloves, I said, what the hey, and went for it. Still gotta be careful because even with the gloves, I got picked :( I chewed up a plantain leaf and then spit the leaf over my little boo-boo. Yes, plantain is called the boo-boo plant and yes that gross thing that I did is called making a spit poultice. You'll be wanting to do one too if you ever get injured or want some relief from insect and mosquito bites.
I started to take the spines off the thistle, but then I said, why bother when I'm going to juice her? Oh yes, indeedy, folks and once I chopped her into bits that fit into a plastic bag I had brought with me, I then popped those bits (wearing gloves, of course) and into the juicer she went. And presto! green juice. I added some carrots and apple to sweeten. Woulda been good with a touch of dill, maybe even some celery, as it was a hot, humid day today! I was sweating while foraging for sure, because I've gotten into the habit to wear pants and running shoes and even a long sleeve hoodie if need be, to protect my sensitive skin from walking in fields with prickly plants :)
Probably will add this recipe to an ebook I've started writing. I have several on the go, just to make 'em pretty, add some pics and get them on the site already! I was thinkin' about making one of them "How to Eat Bitter Greens Successfully" or some such title; an ebook on recipes of how to eat bitter greens like dandelion, thistles and burdock. Bitter is good for the liver and for the heart in TCM. Greens make everything nice and shiny on the inside---cleanse, purify and be well, oh (green) liver of mine!
Well, that's all the silliness for now. Catcha next time, sunshine!
Going around my neighborhood, what finds! Went to mall to get some shopping done and then to sit behind alleyway behind mall. Sat in the sun enjoying my chocolate, birds singing and plants growing! What kinds of plants, you say?
Lamb's Quarter in baby stage. Ooh ooh, I hope she's able to grow big so I can collect her and eat her like spinach! I've seen the city come and rip out plants...Grrr...no such thing as weeds!
Dandelion of course, with tons of yellow flowers. Oozed white milky sap when I plucked off some of the heads---you'd never know someone had gone "foraging!" Sap is great to use on warts, BTW.
Johnny-Jump-Up or Heart's Ease. Just there, one little bunch of flowers, stunning me with her striking violet and yellow colors amongst all the rest of the greenery. I had seen her on a previous time when I had passed by, and she had the same kind of sweet energy, that kind of here-I-am, just-so, just-so-pretty-as-you-please!
So interesting that in previous years she was not growing there, had never seen her, just like the horsetail that was also growing in this alleyway...Interesting how plants come and go (even perennials), but some continue to come back all the time.
Like the coltsfoot. A few flowers still, but the leaves are starting to come in. There were a few flowers without leaves, which is when you want to get coltsfoot in the first place. Yep, the flowers come before the leaves grow in! Then you see these leaves which are supposed to look like coltsfeet, and you know pickin' time is over.
Vetch. I love adding a few of these violet flowers to my summer salad. Trail side nibble from the pea family any time!
Tons of Mugwort, which I'm going to add to some rice, fresh, but maybe steam some with the hostas that I collected from yesterday. Hostas are supposed to taste like asparagus. We'll see about that!
More Dame Rocket. So lovely, what scent! Tried the leaves and they have a sharp taste just like arugula. 4 flowers so you know it's in the Brassica family (any time you see a plant with 4 flowers = cabbage family = edible). I took off all her leaves and left her flowers in a vase on the kitchen table. Planed some others in a pot. What heaaavenly perfume!
Garlic mustard. White flowers, stinky garlic smell oh yeah, I've IDed you all right. No way I can mistake you for a cress. Pee-you. Great in stir fries and soups.
Saw some baby milkweed plants. I was going to uproot one but really why bother when there's so many, even if she does get whacked by the crazy lawn mower every week---I know of a few fields where tons of them grow. Lots of good recipes out there. You can use her flowers and seed pods...but more of that later, when the time is ripe for the pickin'!
Horsetail. I'm not 100% sure of this plant because she grows in wet areas, but she is very distinctive. Brought tons home and am going to grow horsetail to compare. Will continue to monitor the plant that's growing in the wild. Right now she's in vertical stage, but if her leaves (so stiff, like a broom) go horizontal, as they should as she matures, then I'd have a better reference. Only seen her once and she was growing on a mountain in a wet area. It was pretty dry where I saw her growing, right beside dandelion and in another area right beside mugwort. To be seen...
Bladder Campion. Not just an ornamental. Really pretty flowers, very distinctive with that "balloon" just before the flower. Definitely would look real pretty in the garden! And the one I saw was just growing there wild, not one person paying her any mind. She comes back year after in the same spot...never thought to harvest her root, but maybe I should collect some seeds and plant her...
Saw one white rose flower! Wow early for May, more sure to come! Not just white, but pale pink and dark wine ones too! Love those rose bushes, so many uses for rose! Like fresh petals on nut butter on toast! YUM! Can't wait!
Burdock. She's baaaaack! I just love burdock and most of her is either edible or medicinal (actually have a tea going right now with her seeds, which are a great diuretic). I remember a field that is no longer where many burdock plants were growing. Several were about the same height or just a little bit shorter than me and I felt like I just wanted to give them a hug! Love her purplish-pink flowers :) Last year I tried burdock petioles (leaf stalks) or the stems that attach the leaf to the thicker central stem. Just peel off the outer layer, chop and simmer for 15 minutes; then drain (still too bitter) and simmer again another 15 minutes. Done! Just like celery! Small leaves are edible too and of course the root, known as gobo in Japan, is delish! Bought some from the health food store this winter (pricey) but why bother when you can dig her root for free!
Saw some clover leaves, but didn't get any. Later. They'll be plenty. There always is!
Look alike dandelion plant which I'm pretty sure is sow thistle and not wild lettuce. Still a bit confused between the two but I believe the wild lettuce has thorns and this plant as I've observed her for a few years, usually grows right beside dandelion, has thistle like ragged leaves growing in a basal rosette like dandelion but the yellow dandelion-like flowers come out later (and many flowers for one plant compared to the 1 flower on dandelion) in summer. Leaves clasp stem, too, so I'm pretty sure she's an edible thistle, sonchus and not a latuca. Tried her flowers (OK) and leaves last year. Even steamed, the leaves were still tough BUT! I got an idea to juice them this year, so will try later this summer and see how that goes...I saw one plant last year she must've been 6 or 7 feet tall! I remember on a forest jaunt last year I came across a Canadian thistle---taller than me, boy, must've been 7 or 8 feet tall! And edible?! OOH, I contemplated and looked at heavy-duty gloves at the hardware store but for all that trouble...nah, I just enjoyed her company. And her many cousins who were also growing in the same vicinity...But who knows, maybe this year...eek! Those long spikes?! Um...maybe...
Coming back from my foraging jaunt, I happened to see my neighbor and he gave me a quick tour of his garden. Lovely plants, many of which I didn't know. Solomon's seal was one plant I remembered he has growing, as well as blueberries and raspberries, but the rest were names that I've now already forgotten! Oh yes, and a fig tree, lime tree and lemon tree. And there are some black hollyhocks...
Just reminded me that there are so MANY plants out there! How many are known? How many "varieties" of one type of plant, like thistles or clover?! And sometimes even botanists get confused or don't know whether a certain plant is edible or not. Infinite varieties like the infiniteness of animals or insects... or human minds...or the universe...each so distinct and unique in their perfect imperfections...
'Til next time!
Curiosity Got The Cat: