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: 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 :))
Curiosity Got The Cat: