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!! :]
Bellefield Finds: Wild Grape, Sow Thistle, Plantain & 22 Other Herbs - Chickweed, Comfrey & St. John's Wort Salve Recipe- Double Tincture Motherwort Recipe
Finally sat down! Whew, have been so busy working (not so interesting) and running around (interesting).
Well, to be fare, I did get in some foraging at work. I collected some leaves from Hosta, Dandelion, Creeping Bellflower and Loosestrife to throw into a pesto. Mm-mmm. I've been eating a different wild green pesto almost every day. So good with Daikon Radish, Zuke and Cuke julienned sticks :)
I also collected 3 trays worth in the dehydrator of Prunella vulgaris, aka Self-Heal. I went out one day, collected a good bunch, then went out the next day and got some more. She's a small one, ya know, not much more than the tip of your pinky finger, but she makes such a sweet tasting tea, oh yes indeedy!
That foraging at work I just mentioned happened just this week, because before that it was rain, rain and more rain. Now we're in a period of no rain, hot and muggy for the past few days.
Of course, I took the opportunity to finally go foraging!
Yesterday: Foraging started right downstairs near the shed, where I collected some Violet and Plantain leaves for future infusions. I also found some Common Sow Thistles hiding behind the shed and collected some leaves to add to the pesto--- yep, in cold weather, it all goes into the soup pot and in warm weather it all goes into a mean green wild pesto ;)
I found a Malva Rosea growing beside the Rhubarb and collected some leaves to add to the pesto; also took some Rhubarb to make a nice protein shake.
It was getting late already, so I went and did some pruning in the balcony garden. Lots of Chickweed about! She's growing prolifically in the pots beside the side of the house, even Mint is confined to her space in each pot, ha ha! I did collect some Mint for future infusions of course :) Got a few Mustard leaves and Borage leaves to also add to tomorrow's pesto, as well as 3 varieties of Basil, some Anise Hyssop and even a touch of Dill.
I collected some Sage and Marjoram for later, as well as....drum roll....Zinnia! In fact, there is now one beauty of a pink flower strutting her stuff. Yes, Zinnia is edible, and I've collected her leaves to use in a future...pesto, you got it ;)
Comfrey has come in and I gathered some leaves and made an oil that I'll turn into a salve later on. As I was low on oil, I decided to use some St. John's Wort oil I had made last year, what you might almost call doing a double oil infusion, meaning that this oil is now double in strength. I also added in Chickweed for her anti-itch property.
Comfrey, Chickweed and St. John's Wort Oil/Salve
Tear or chop both the Comfrey and Chickweed into small pieces. Place in a mason jar (size is determined by how much herb you have). Add the St. John's Wort oil to cover the herbs. Give it a stir with the handle of a wooden spoon or a bamboo skewer to ensure all of the herb bits are coated in the oil. Cap with more oil until the very top. Place on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks before straining out the oil (use a sieve lined with a coffee filter). Store oil into dark amber bottles.
To turn oil into a salve: place 1 cup of the oil with 1 ounce beeswax OR carnuba wax in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel pot on low heat. Once melted, stir with a wooden spoon, adding it optionally 1-2 tsp of Vitamin E oil (this is a natural preservative, prick open capsules with a knife). Pour into amber glass jars and let cool overnight before putting on lids and labelling.
Uses: minor wounds and burns, insect bites and stings, sprains, strains, sore muscles, bruises, and where nervous support is needed. Also suitable for vaginal itching due to vaginal and urinary infections.
Notes: To test if texture of salve is to your liking: place 1 tsp of the oil/melted beeswax onto a spoon. Place spoon in freezer and wait 5 minutes. Assess if you'd prefer a softer salve (add a bit more oil to the pot) or a harder salve (add a bit more wax to the pot).
Shelf life of salve when stored in a cool place -> 1-3 years.
I decided to take a very mini trip around the mall and see what I could find. Eh, the Roses are mostly gone and the few that are there are all dried up. In fact, because of the weird weather and the late start of the season, I've noticed that many of the plants have remained small and then gone into flower OR are late in producing flowers. Borage, for example, usually is tall and gangly, but this year she's tiny, almost as if I could've planted her in a flower box and she'd have been just fine.
Behind the mall, same deal. Didn't spot that much Dandelion, some Sow Thistles were hanging out, and a small patch of infant Lamb's Quarter caught my eye. I harvested but a tiny bit, as there wasn't even a fistful to be had--- not like the Lamb's Q I harvested later that evening, when I went for a jog and found some seriously good-sized ones growing beside a fence on someone's lawn. I was able to collect a good fistful, in fact, one would probably call it a good bunch! I added the leaves to a pesto, of course :)
Back to the mall: Noticed the Garlic Mustard was quite dried up and spotted a few escaped baby Hosta plants, from which I pilfered a few leaves (yep, for pesto).
Going a little further along, I spotted several Mugworts and said hello.
When I saw some Milkweed, I got off my bike and walked slowly along an adjoining alleyway. I got some Milkweed flowers and immature buds (pesto!), as well as some Dock leaves (soup!). I noticed some nice Burdock plants but didn't feel called to take the stems and steam 'em like celery.
Nope, didn't seem to be too much happening this time around.
Today: I went to Bellefield. My intention was really to collect some Red Clover because I use her during my periods and wanted to have a good bunch to last me 'til next year.
I walked up the path and spotted Nettle, ALL with seeds. Oh no! What happened to my attempts of chopping off the seeds last month? Had they grown so much? Seemed so, but I decided to harvest them for....pesto :)
When I climbed over the bridge and turned right to the field, wow. Unlike last year when I was still collecting Red Clover flowers in early autumn, many of the plants were plumb burned, black, gone, dead. It took me about an hour to collect a bunch, and many were small and pink in color instead of the usual pinky-purple hue. I felt like a bee going to plant to plant, and whenever I spotted a bug on a blossom (including a bee), I knew that was a good one to take.
As I was picking up the blossoms, I was also noticing the many variety of plants in this 1 field (see pics below :) ):
I didn't notice any Jewel weed or Blue Vervain as I had last year, might see them later on.
Interestingly, I don't think they will be making condos on this field. I had noticed on my bike sprees to work that a part of the fence had been ripped out. Now the fence was repaired and the grass outside it scorched, but no longer just bare earth. Good news for the plants and for me! :))
After 2 hours out in the field, I zipped along to the mall to get a few things, then back home to find lots of insect friends had accompanied me home. I left the bags out on the balcony for a few hours so some of them could escape/leave, then made a St John's wort oil and a double tincture of Motherwort.
Kept the larger Motherwort leaves to dry and use in future soups and also spread the Plantain to dry for future infusions (try 3 trays over full!). I spread the Red Clover blossoms onto paper on my table and Oh my! so many bugs! That's OK, because they all disappeared when the cooler evening weather came...announcing a weekend of rain and more rain.
That's the thing with foraging, gotta get the timing with Mother Nature spot on!
I'm happy to say that Milkweed and Nettle got all washed up and are ready to be cooked and blended into a pesto with some Lamb's Quarter, Chickweed, and Basil of course.
Hope you're enjoying the bounties of summer, sunshine, cuz the weather is warm and toasty fine :)
PS. NOOOOOOOOO! The bugs were still there the next morning, tons of slugs, all moving slowly across the kitchen wall, the kitchen floor, the kitchen chairs, onto my bike helmet and bag I had left on the chair...what a mess! There's a now 3rd element to consider when foraging (after the 1- collecting/harvesting and 2- spreading to dry/chopping for wildcrafting recipes): the bugs!! It was just Red Clover, bugs know better than to be hanging around on Nettle, Yarrow or Motherwort ;)
PSS. Here's that double recipe for Motherwort. All you do is chop the top 1/3 of the flowering tops with scissors, place in a mason jar and add your already made Motherwort tincture from a previous year. Make sure all herb is coated, put on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks, before straining and storing in amber bottles. Note that using a piece of plastic wrap over the lid will prevent the lid from corroding/rusting. Your formula is now doubly strong, so use wisely the next time around for period cramps, palpitations and anxiety (try halving the usual dose of 30 drops).
Yep, yet another pit stop at the flower shop, er, market.
This time I really went there to get some fresh Basil to make a mean green spread. I mentioned in the previous post that I had collected Hosta, Loosestrife and Daisy Fleabane leaves, so pesto is definitely on the menu! To the pesto, I'm going to add some Dandy leaves, Mallow leaves, Chickweed, Lamb's Quarter and perhaps some Lemon Verbena and/or Anise Hyssop. I also purchased some GF Miso from the health food store and I find that this simple ingredient can really add a nice touch of flavor to any pesto/spread.
Since I'm planning on making 2 or 3 types of pesto this week (foraging for Milkweed and other lovely edibles is on the schedule), I got 3 Basil plants, 2 of Cinnamon Basil and one of Pesto Basil. And to add flavor (and because the plants I have I've used enough of their leaves) I also picked up a Lemon Verbena and an Anise Hyssop.
Once again, I spent some time chit-chatting with the flower market man. I was telling him about my pesto with Hosta leaves and that I was going to add the Verbena and A-Hyssop to it.
Interesting about the Hostas, he said. What else can you do with them?
I said I added them to juices and smoothies, and they were fine in soups and stews too. They're in the same family as asparagus, you know.
Really, he said.
Then I mentioned the flowers were also edible, not much taste, but fine to add to salads to pretty them on up. I broke off a flower and he tried it and said that yep, it tasted like a flower. As he continued chewing, he said it tasted like salad and he could see how the flowers could be added to a salad. Of course, he's a meat and potatoes kinda guy, so salads are a side dish on occasion ;)
While it had rained earlier today, by now the sun had come out and talking and being in the sun was such a pleasant moment...
I looked over the perennials, asking him if he had any Mums or Blanket Flower ~gifts for my neighbor~ but I finally just got her a Pepper plant as her seeds didn't take and he was out of the others.
I did bring home a few other friends, of course!! The Stevia I had gotten had one of her stems broken by the wind, so I picked up a friend for her and now there are two sister Stevias in the same pot :)
I also picked up 2 Butterfly plants, aka Pleurisy root. I had planted seeds 2x and still nothing showed, so when I saw them at the flower market, I said of course I'll bring them home and plant them in their pot! And I did indeed...now to wait to see them flower and attract the butterflies :)
I did see a monarch butterfly the other day, so rare to see them I find. Indeed, I think I see more flies that come and pollinate the flowers than any other bug ;)
And yes, I did get one more plant: Gentian. I know the root is used as a digestive bitter and to stimulate the liver/gallbladder to produce bile. It's also so bitter that other bitter plants seem not much compared to her.... I don't know, Dandelion, Wild Lettuces and Sow Thistles seem right up there on the bitter principle to me ;P
Now that I come to think of it, I placed her in a small pot, so will have to see if I can't find another place for her...maybe get another large pot. Her root is supposed to be as thick as a man's arm....better make that a tall one then! Maybe I'll pick up 2 tall planters next week as I need to repot one of my Aloes.
I had picked this Aloe up from the health food store, thinking I could use her sap to use in salad dressings. Of course, I never did (softie me about plants being friends and all), and she's gotten quite huge. Her leaves are spread out quite horizontally that she really reminds me of an octopus. She's a bit toppled to one side, so it's going to be time to upgrade to a bigger home.
And speaking of planting, after I got home, I planted all my new lovelies from the flower market (except the Basils, they can stay in their pots for now). I also staked the Tomatoes --- there are 3 plants and there's even another baby one coming in! And I made a trellis for the Cumber plants (there are 2 of them) by tying 2 small bamboo trellises together that I had purchased from the dollar store in a previous year. Not bad, since they are all growing in the bottom of a ferret cage :)
With the hot and humid weather, many of the plants have been surging forward:
Other news: I dug the garden at work!! It didn't take long to take up the weeds (I apologized to them before and did NOT dig up Dock or Dandy roots, heheh) and grass in this small area beside the deck. The earth is sandy and rocky, but that's what the boss OKayed. I spread various veggie herbs, the usual ones like Lettuce, Spinach, Chard, Tomato and Pepper, then all got watered and now it's to been whether anything will grow. I mentioned to my boss about the compost/topsoil, and then, ah, how the ego changes! At first, he was OK with the garden, then a new one came along that seemed put out at the "extra work" of procuring earth and having to water the veggie patch. What chores, I know ;)
I discovered a new friend growing right beside the Rose bush and Rhubarb that my landlord planted downstairs: Malva! The same Malva Rosea that I acquired just this year, but perhaps had given to my neighbor in a previous year (?). Question mark added as I'm not sure whether this was the kind she had last year, thinking more that the seed found its way to the area.
Also checked beside the shed and there are Violets, Plantain and Common Sow Thistle to be foraged ---probably on Wednesday to give time for the water to evaporate. I have to agree that the Common Sow Thistle is very mild tasting when young and the arrowhead leaves make it easy to identify. I'd definitely add (and have added) this as a green to pestos, smoothies and the soup pot (high in calcium, phosphorous and iron). The other types I find too rough and/or bitter and are better suited for green juices.
I remember that one of the Sow Thistles, the Field one (or arvensis) told me she was edible. I took a few of her leaves, cooked her and yet still found her disagreeable. Too rough for my tender intestines! The next year when I saw her and several of her friends growing in the same spot behind the mall, I decided to pick her up and add her to the juicer. Perfect! In small amounts, and paired with other greens and fruits, I'll take those minerals and Vitamin C she offers up to my body, thank-you very much!
Interesting what she didn't tell me was that her root can be used as a coffee substitute. Oh ho now, looks like I'll be digging me up some Sow Thistle and Dandy roots come fall...Oh no...digging for roots is not exactly on my fun, fun list. Doable, and done for the health benefits of course...and exercise, I suppose...
Alrighty, enough blah-blahing for now. Time to get out there foraging, sunshine, so sweet me, treat me, I'll be sharing all the details...soon enough. 'Til next time, sunshine :)
Bellefield Finds: Yarrow Bug Repellent, St. John's Wort Muscular Tension Release Oil & Red Clover Moon Tea
Summer has finally arrived with the usual hot and humid weather of 30C/86F. The rain is no longer, and oh yes indeedy, I've been out and about foraging for the past several days; hence, time to update you folks!
To start: I've been on a couple of mini-foraging adventures around the local mall, getting a few looks from people. But no bother, I've been too busy collecting the usual plants of Mugwort, Vetch and some Milkweed buds and flowers. I spotted some Motherwort plants growing amongst a Rose bush and plan on going back to get at least one to grow in a pot.
There were 2 new plants that I wasn't sure of what they were, and while I took some pics at the same, I soon discovered their names when I hit "the mother load" the other day. I'll get back to that in a minute, because I also visited a field which gets mowed every now and then.
On my way to getting my bike fixed (which I discovered today after getting a tune up and replacing a broken derailer at a cost of $70 that I really need to fork out another $35 for a bum wheel), I noticed that the field was half-mowed.
Usually they mow the whole field but not this time around.
I went in and looked about: sure enough, good ol' Yarrow was there. This has actually been the place so far that I've been collecting yarrow. While some people grow her as an ornamental, she has many medicinal properties, one of them being as a bug repellent. Easy to make, too:
Yarrow Bug Repellent
Chop fresh yarrow leaves and flowers to fill a mason jar, any size, to the top (that'd be slightly packed). Pour in 80 or 100 proof vodka to the top and stir with a non-metallic object (like a bamboo skewer) to make sure all bits are immersed in the liquid. Add more vodka as needed, to the top. Put on the lid and screw cap and leave to sit for 6 weeks. Strain out the yarrow (I like using a nut milk bag) and pour into a sterilized spray bottle. Spray yourself before heading out and more as needed. You can also add in essential oils (say 20-30 drops for a small-medium bottle) to heighten the effect, such as catnip, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, fir and lemon. They are all good (catnip is expensive but works exceptionally well). You can use just one or a combo or look for recipes online. Just remember: essential oils are strong medicine!
Besides Yarrow, there were many Milkweed plants. It was strange, but I didn't feel that I wanted to collect any, although I did get a handful of buds and flowers. I also collected some Mugwort, but left the baby thistles alone as I didn't have my clippers or heavy-duty gloves with me.
Half-way through the field, I saw this post with some numbers written in orange. I got the feeling that they might be building a house there...and sure enough, on my way to work today, the foundation for a house has been started and there are big mounds of earth where before there were plants.
I must say, I was a bit put out.
It seems like there are no fields left! And where I live, it is called "suburbia!" So much for suburbia, unless it means staring at people's boring grass lawns!
So yesterday I decided to make a trip to a large field which was right beside a hardware store. Since there are different fields, I should really start giving them names. So let's call this one Fairview Field. It was far away, more than an hour's trip by bike and a good 45 minute bus ride.
It was hot and humid and I wasn't feel my usual 100% as I started doing a juice fast a few days ago and was experiencing some detox symptoms, mainly fatigue and lethargy, although on the 2nd day I had a migraine. Good liver detox symptoms! No issues today :)
My bike was not running well, even though, as I explained previously, I had taken it to get a tune up and fixed a broken derailer.
I was less than 2 minutes on my bike when I decided to explore an area which had grabbed my curiosity on the few times I had passed that way. It was really close-by, too.
I parked my bike on a post, looking at the trees and what seemed like a mini-park next to some condos.
Well, I thought, the worst that could happen would be that I'd get asked to leave and have to give back the plants.
Good thinking, kitty-Cat. That's a neat psychological trick of doing the "worst case scenario."
Worked for me to get up my nerve and get in there!
I noticed several wild plants growing in someone's yard and then passed over a wooden bridge with a small creek underneath. I looked to the right and...
The mother load.
There was a huge field filled with flowers!
I started looking, and yes, yes, YES! There was tons of Red Clover!
I absolutely love Red Clover. One of the reasons why I had thought to make the long trip to visit the field close to the hardware store ---oh right, Fairview Field--- was because I knew Red Clover was growing there. I needed more Red Clover because my "stash" from last year's pickings was running really low, and she is a phenomenal emmenagogue. In fact, one of the reasons why I was experiencing detox symptoms at the start of my juice fast was because I had gotten my period. Yep, in TCM, the liver rules over menstruation, and my liver could use a little bit of help (but more to build blood in my case---story for another time).
FYI: if you want an orange-pekoe-tasting tea, Red Clover is it. I love her sweetened with stevia and some unsweetened almond milk. It makes "that time of the month" so much more enjoyable :)
Red Clover Moon Time Tea
Simply place 1 oz in a 1-liter mason jar, pour boiling water to the top, then lid and screw cap on, and let sit for 4-8 hours. Strain, sweeten and add milk, if desired. I like mine really strong, so I'd say I use 2-3 oz!!
Back to the field (let's call this Belle Field, or even better, Bellefield): Not only was there Red Clover, but BIG plantain leaves bigger than my hand. There was White Clover, Mugwort, Milkweed, Dock and the 2 mystery plants which I've identified now as Wild Parsnip and Cow Parsnip.
There were 2 different kinds of Sow Thistles (sonchus asper & sonchus arvensis), Wild Lettuce and St John's wort. I made an easy to make oil with St John's Wort when I got home. Why? Great to relieve muscular tension, restores nerve damage and it makes a low SPF sunscreen. To do:
St John's Wort Muscular Tension Release and SPF Oil
Chop the top 1/3 of the plant, as the medicine is mostly in the flowers. Chop the plant and slightly fill a mason jar. I take the leaves off the stems and chop the flowers off. Fill with olive oil, stirring with a non-metallic object (such as a bamboo skewer) to ensure all is coated. Add more oil as needed to the top. Put on lid and screw cap and leave to set for 6 weeks. I place the jar in 2 brown paper bags as it often leaks out. Strain out plant bits (using a nut milk bag makes it easy) and pour into a dark, sterilized amber jar (a funnel makes this task easier). Use as a massage oil, whenever you have joint pain, or rub into skin/face as a low SPF (about SPF3) sunscreen.
There was also trifolium campestre, Yellow Hop Clover, and Trick Trefoil, although I can't say at this time what variety it is (I have to look at her leaves again, but she sure is pretty). :)
I was so happy, I was beaming, I tell you. I was chattering away to the plants, telling them how happy I was to have discovered them, how appreciative I was, how I'd love to have such a beautiful wild Zen garden like this. There were tons of bugs hiding among the flowers, crickets I think, jumping all over the place.
One of them was on my hand at one point and was nipping at my skin.
"Hey," I said, "don't bite me!"
He jumped off, because I was also telling the plants that it wasn't my intention to hurt them and that any plant that was interested in offering their medicine should show themselves to me.
It's good to put out that intention to the plants, I find, to show your respect, but also because there are so many plants, and the ones that want to be picked and share their energy with you will grab your attention and let you know!
While I also collected much Yarrow, you shoulda seen those Sow Thistles, the ones with thistles on the underside of their leaves. Yep, just like Stinging Nettle, you can boil her and make a green pesto or do what I'm plannin' on doin': G-R-E-E-N juice!! Gonna have to make sure I add in enough apple to cover that bitter taste ;) I made one already with baby Sow Thistles of the oleraceus variety, and let me tell ya, not for the faint of heart ;)
After I collected the plants for about an hour and a half must've been, I made my way to explore the rest of the area.
It was really quite hot. Sweat was dripping down my tank top.
I had to pee as well, so I knew I wasn't going to be staying that much longer.
It wasn't a big "park." Indeed, while I had gone to the right-hand side and discovered this field of plants which then led to the street, on the left-hand side there was a little trail with a few park benches and then another small bridge at the end to get you over the creek.
There were more Sow Thistles, Plantain and TONS of Yarrow (thank goodness I've now got a new source for Yarrow!), but a few new ones, too: Thistle (not sure of the variety just yet) and Sumac.
All I can say is, I am so happy to have discovered this new field, Bellefield!
It's right close to home and it's a little haven away from the yawning green of my neighbors' lawns.
In fact, what with park benches installed there, I could even go for a picnic lunch or have a go at some writing! Why not! It's so nice to be among plant friends...
I hope you find some time to get in some Mother Nature time, if not some me time, too.
I took some pics this time around, so enjoy :) Hover your mouse over each pic to get the name.
'Til 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: