Summer is here! After a good spell of rain, the sunny weather has returned. And with it, many plant friends are making their appearance or growing bigger and stronger!
Wood Sorrel. This little one is easy to identify as she has 3 heart-shaped leaves and looks like clover. Her flower is white or yellow. She is high in oxalic acid, which means she's better to cook before consuming. HOWEVER spinach is also high in oxalic acid and we do add that to the salad bowl, hm? So yes, you can add some Wood Sorrel leaves and flowers to salads! Her taste is pleasantly lemony tart. In fact, if you happen to be gardening or are out and about and you're feeling thirsty, you can munch on a few leaves to quench your thirst.
I've made Wood Sorrel Lemonade in the past and I will probably make it again this summer. I'll share that recipe when I've gathered up a good bunch of leaves and have dried them 1st---so look for that recipe later on! :) For now, you can read more about her HERE. <--- FYI, this is an EXCELLENT site about wild weeds, with pics and their edible and medicinal value :)
Yellow Dock. I've spoken about Yellow (or Curly) Dock in a post before. Here is a good-sized plant. Note the dark green, curly leaves that are an identifying feature. Often there are red spots on the leaves, as she too is high in oxalic acid. Like spinach, she is a good source of iron and you definitely want to be picking her leaves and drying them for infusions, or using them fresh or dried and adding them to the soup or stew pot. I've juiced her leaves for green juices and added her leaves to the blender for green smoothies (you can strip off the leaves of the stems as you would for kale if you find the stems too fibrous OR steam the leaves first and then add to the blender). In the fall, those green seeds turn to brown and you can use them as a coffee substitute (delish!) or grind them down and use as flour in quick bread recipes (also delish!). More on that when we get to the fall season---for now, let us enjoy the summer!!! :)
Purple Loosestrife. She's considered an "invasive weed," being a plant that was introduced from Europe and went wild. The link I'm sharing where you can look at pics of her is from a site in Ontario, Canada. There are other pics of "invasive weeds"---which have edible and medicinal value on the site (NOT HOGWEED HOWEVER). Note that "weeds" = free edible food and medicine!! And the the word "invasive" means there is LOTS of that "weed," so you don't have to feel bad about collecting your fair share for food or medicine.
Loosestrife is considered an invasive weed in other areas, not just Ontario, FYI.
The leaves are edible and I juice them, add them to the blender for green smoothies and throw them into the soup pot. You can also make an infusion from the flowering tops for diarrhea, dysentery and heavy menstrual bleeding. Read more HERE.
Self-Heal. Also called called All-Heal, I've just gotten used to calling her by her latin name, Prunella. This is a TINY plant, so scooch down and look for purple flowers among the grass on lawns (although I have seen her growing in a clearing in the woods, tallest I've seen so far!). While the leaves are edible and can be added to salads or thrown into the soup pot, I always pick the flowers and 2 leaves right beside the flower and dry them for infusions. Prunella is called All-Heal as she is considered an alterative, which means she treats several conditions and is a general tonic for all body systems.
In TCM, she is considered a cold plant excellent for inflammatory conditions. She works primarily on the liver and gallbladder. You can even buy prunella mixed with honey (often sugar as well) in Asian markets. I like to use Prunella infusions to help flush the lymphatic system ---> great for detox, moving the lymph and helping with weight loss. I often add Prunella as a herb to assist others herbs in a formula.
There are a few other plants that I didn't take a pic of but that I noticed growing at work: Dame Rocket and Queen Anne's Lace. Dame Rocket is also called Sweet Rocket which has pink flowers and there's also Yellow Rocket with yellow flowers. They have a bitter taste and while both leaves and flowers can be added to salads, I use the leaves in soups and stews (dried or fresh) and add the fresh leaves to veggie green smoothies (like greens, cukes, tomatoes, etc. kinda like a V-8). Both rockets are in the cabbage family and you should know that her flowers have FOUR petals and LOOK like Phlox, BUT Phlox has FIVE flowers. Phlox flowers are edible (phlox paniculata), FYI, and you can add them to fruit salads. <---You can see pics of the flowers when you click on the links :)
I'll talk about Queen Anne's Lace in a future post as she in the carrot family and there are some look alikes that can be poisonous.
For now, I'll leave you to good weather and happy sun-shiney days...and Roses, lots of Roses! I got about 2 trays full in the dehydrator and the smell of Roses filling the air with her sweet scent was more than enough to put a smile on my face!!
I'm sure yours is happily smiling too, sunshine, so keep up that bright sunny energy, ya hear! :)
One Backyard: Edible & Medicinal Clovers,Dock, Fleabane, Hawkweed, Plantain, Prunella, Sorrel, Strawberry Leaf & Violets --- Clover Perfume, Massage Oil, Herbal Vinegar & Sorrel Lemonade Recipes
When you see a lawn, do you think, oh that's someone's backyard, just some grass there? Or do you look closer and see a plethora of plants, waiting to share their energy/food and medicine?
So here are some pics I took at work. See the variety of living plants in just a small plot of land :) Here we go:
White Clover, triofolium repens. Gather the blossoms on a dry day when there hasn't been any rain. You can make a standard infusion with them, although she isn't as medicinal as Red Clover (useful to help with menstrual cramps). Instead, where she shines is in her scent:
To Make White Clover Perfume:
---> Place the flowers slightly packed into a small mason jar (250ml/1cup or 500ml/2 cups works just fine). Add oil to cover the flowers (olive oil or grape seed oil is fine), then use a thin bamboo skewer or the handle of a wooden spoon to make sure flowers are coated. Add more oil to the top of the jar, put on lid and screw cap and let sit in the cupboard for six weeks. Strain out oil by placing a coffee filter into a sieve to catch any tiny pieces. If you like and there are still flowers around, you can make this perfume oil have a stronger scent by repeating the process: add fresh flowers to a mason jar + your infused oil. Cap off with additional olive/grape seed oil to the top, then wait another six weeks. Place the oil into small vials with a roll on (a small sieve can help get the oil in the bottle, as can a pipette), then label and use for yourself or give as gifts. Optionally, you can add in a few essential oils of your choice that you think might work nicely with the delicate scent of White Clover (vanilla is one that comes to mind :) ). Enjoy!!
If you're wondering if I have some White Clover oil infusing right now, the answer is...YEP! I've used this same simple technique of infusing one flower into oil with Lavender and Rose petals...I love the delicate scent and so have others :)
Too much work for all that?? I hear ya. Better yet, just pluck the blossoms and add to the top of salads to make 'em pretty. Smell nice, taste is OK too :)
Good ol' Dandelion, taraxacum officianalis. What do you do with the leaves? Yep, I juice 'em! I replace about 1/4 of my other greens with Dandelions, add them to the juicer with some apples or melon and I'm good to go in the morning! They're chock full of minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, and they've got that magic I'm-so-hardy appeal that's sure to be shared with you too :)
I add the leaves, fresh or dried, to soups and stews, and I use the dried leaves to make a wild green powder, which you can then add to smoothies and baked goods for extra nutrition. Even better, add the powder with some other greens that you've dried and powdered and make your own wild greens protein powder. Sure, feel free to add in hemp, rice protein, pea protein, etc. to the green powder.
Oh, yeah, to turn the leaves from dried to a powder? Best to use a high speed blender. Works every time. Then store the powder in a glass air tight container. A mason jar works fine too :)
Wood Sorrel, oxalis stricta (note that there are other varieties). The flowers have come up yet in this photo, but they will and they'll be yellow. How to use? Not being a stem kinda gal, I remove the leaves and toss into the soup or stew pot. Note the word oxalis, as she does contain oxalic crystals which can irritate some people. Cooking neutralizes them, however.
Since she tastes kind of on the lemony side of things, think LEMONADE.
To Make Wood Sorrel Lemonade:
--->Get a bunch of Wood Sorrel, with flowers or without and let them dry. Then make a standard 2 cup infusion. Strain and add in 2 cups water, plus the juice of 1 or 2 lemons, as you prefer. Add stevia to taste, if desired. Great served cold on a hot summer's day.
Oh yeah, and if you're ever out and about and feeling parched, munching on a few leaves helps to quench your thirst :) Good ol' common garden Sorrel :)
Wild Strawberry, fragaria vesca. Leaves are great to add to soups and stews, fresh, frozen or dried. Can also add fresh leaves to salads. Use dried leaves and make a standard infusion for diarrhea (drink throughout the day).
Red Clover, trifolium pratense. These are just the leaves, however the flowers are out and about as of the month of June. They'll still be around by July, sometimes even as late as August and early September. Note the characteristic chevron that appears on all 3 leaves. Usually, the rule of thumb is leaves of 3, let it be. But this is clearly an exception to the rule, and the striking pattern makes Red Clover easy to identify.
The leaves can be used fresh, frozen or dried and added to soups and stews. Fine to add to salads, too. She's also a good one to add to a herbal vinegar, as is Strawberry Leaf, Self-Heal, Plantain, Dandelion leaf, Stinging Nettle, Mugwort...pretty much any wild edible green is fine.
To Make a Herbal Vinegar:
---> Chop your choice of wild green edibles with scissors into small pieces, then place into a mason jar. The size of the jar will depend upon how much greens you have (I'd say a 500ml/2 cup jar would be a good size, 1 liter if you have a lot). Pour apple cider vinegar with mother to cover the herbs, stir with the handle of a wooden spoon to ensure all gets covered with the vinegar, then add more vinegar to the top. Place a small piece of cling wrap to cover the lid, then put on the lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks in the cupboard. Strain out the liquid using a fine mesh sieve and store in a glass container of your choice. Great to use over salads or in any dressing/sauce/recipe where vinegar is called for :)
Self-Heal or All-heal, prunella vulgaris. I love drying her and using her for tea (I do mean a standard infusion). Great to flush toxins out of the lymphatic system and for water retention (e.g. during periods). She's a low growing plant, doesn't grow very high. And those labia-looking petals fall out when you go to pluck up the flower, so do be gentle.
Note the fine hairs where the flowers are situated? You won't see them with the naked eye, but a close up camera or magnifying glass are both good tools to have in the field with you. You can add the leaves to soups, stews and salads, although they isn't much to them. Fine to add to a herbal vinegar for extra minerals, vitamins and nutrition.
Plantain, plantago major. Ah, the boo-boo plant. Where there's one, there's more. And more's the better. Any time you got a boo-boo, like an insect bite, sting or scrape, chew the leaves up (yes, in your mouth, called a spit poultice) and place over the wound. Replace when it dries out. Just great to get rid of itching and you'll notice the wound heals much faster had you not used trust ol' Plantain. I'd keep this plant around the garden if I were you and make sure to find her if you're ever out in the field and need some boo-boo remedy.
Of course, you can also make a salve with her leaves and pair her with healing Comfrey (a few salve recipes here). And she also makes a great massage oil, helpful with St John's Wort and even Goldenrod (the flowering tops of both those plants). Massage oil is good for relaxation, but also helps with sprains, strains, sore muscles and even nerve damage.
To Make Relax Me Massage Oil:
---> Simply chop 2 parts St John's Wort (flowering top) with 1 part chopped Goldenrod (flowering top) and 1 part Plantain leaves. Place in a mason jar (a 500ml or 1 liter mason is a good size here) and add olive oil to cover the herbs. Stir with the handle of a wooden spoon to ensure oil covers all herb. Add more oil to the top of the jar, put on lid and screw cap, and let sit 6 weeks in the cupboard. Strain out the oil using a sieve (best if you place a coffee filter in the sieve first to catch tiny particles) into clean dark amber jars. Label and use on sore, stiff and achy muscles.
Just an FYI: St John's comes out in the summer while Goldenrod comes out later, late August and September. Feel free to make an infused oil with the Plantain and St John's, then make another infused oil with the Goldenrod and add the 2 oils together. OR, you can just make an oil with Plantain + St John's OR just St John's by herself. Up to you. Aren't you glad there are options and choices?!
Last good tidbit about Plantain: yep, edible, you can add fresh, dried or frozen to soups and stews. Small leaves are good in salads, larger ones can be juiced or even added to smoothies. Dried, she makes an excellent tea to remove boo-boos on the inside, aka, helpful to heal inflamed intestines such as leaky gut. I'd drink the tea daily with other herbs like Violet leaf, Marshmallow root and Slippery elm if you have leaky gut.
Violet, viola (sp.). There are several types of Violets, but they all taste mildly of wintergreen. The ones that I've seen where I live (up in the Northeast) have had either white or purple flowers, except for Johnny-jump-ups, which are tricolor. The leaves are usually heart-shaped, but sometimes they are more rounded. Some varieties have hairy leaves and stems.
Due to their mucilaginous quality, a few fresh leaves (and flowers) can be added to salads. Fresh or dried ones can be added to soups and stews, where that mucilage will be a welcome boon to soothe irritated intestines. If you have leaky gut, I'd add a good bunch of leaves when making soup, or even add some fresh ones to your morning smoothie (their mucilaginous quality doesn't make them so nice for green juices). Dried, the leaves make an excellent healing infusion. To the infusion, you can add Plantain and (chopped or powdered) Marshmallow root, plus mint for some extra cooling power. Drink throughout the day to help heal leaky gut.
Yellow Dock (the tall one in the middle), rumex crispus. I find that Dock leaves remind me of Spinach and both are good sources of iron. I prefer to dry the leaves and then add them to soups and stews come colder weather time, but they are great steamed on their own or added to smoothies and green juices.
Just like Plantain, where there's one there's usually more, and the seeds on 1 plant are plentiful! Last year there were perhaps 2 plants in the backyard and there are now about 1/2 a dozen :)
The root is a bright yellow when you dig her up in the fall, and that taproot can be quite long. A bit of digging required, yep, but the good news is that the root is even higher in iron than the leaves and has been used to help with iron deficiency. I'll talk more about the root later on in the fall (and also about the brown seeds which are edible and can be used like flour) :)
The pics above are of different kinds of rockets, plants that are in the mustard or Brassica family. 4-flowers are usually a sign of a mustard family plant...and the smell? Mmm, like sweet, heavenly perfume! When the flowers are spent, long seed pods with tiny seeds are left (yep, you can open the pods and use them like mustard seeds, even make your own homemade mustard if you can gather enough of them).
Leaves and flowers are edible, fine to add to salads, fresh, frozen or dried leaves to soups and stews. And if you're making yourself a veggie juice or smoothie, you can most certainly add in some leaves to the brew!
From L to R: Daisy Fleabane (erigeron philadelphicus), Forget-me-not (myosotis (sp)) and Orange Hawkweed (pilosella aurantiacum).
Daisy Fleabane. The leaves are edibles, although their hairiness may make them less than thrilling in salads. Better to add the leaves to the soup/stew pot and put them through the juicer.
Forget-me-not flowers make beautiful splashes of blue in the garden and since they grow in mats, they can be great to fill up those bare and empty spaces. The flowers (although bland and small) are edible and can be tossed into the salad bowl or soup/stew pot or used to decorate muffins and cupcakes.
Hawkweed or Mouse-ear. Flowers edible raw in salads, leaves are hairy, best to add to the juicer or to the soup/stew pot. The dried flowers and leaves can be made into an infusion and used as an emmenagogue, cholagogue, diaphoretic, expectorant and diuretic.
And finally, the Buttercup, NOT EDIBLE. Here's a good read about it and why holding a Buttercup under your chin will reflect a lovely shade of yellow (nope, nothing to do with whether you're a Butter lover or not).
See you next time, Sunshine :)
Why Cat F***ing Loves Plants: Much More Than Wood or Sheep Sorrel, Sweet Borage Flowers or Edible Begonias
I fucking love plants! And foraging!! And Mother Earth!
Now before you get your knickers all in a tizzy or give yourself a wedgie or whatever it is you do when you get that twisted feeling inside, let me just tell you that no, cussing is not really done around here, but when it happens, it's used for effect, so take notice!
As I was saying, I just LOVE plants. Don't even ask how the week was spent (yes, rain, you ninny) because these pages have been blank, no posts written...BUT, yesterday was a nice day AND I wasn't at work.
Although it had poured buckets almost all day the other day, yesterday was perfect. So I went for a look-see, and found some good "finds!"
There was Vetch, whom I spotted first, and I took several gorgeous purplish-blue sprigs from her. I saw Goldenrods growing (they'll be out later in August with their showy yellow flowers). There was dandelion (but not as much as you'd have thought there should've been), 2 kinds of thistles and yep, that family of Lamb's Quarter I had been telling ya'll about, 'cept this time someone had gone and thrown manure over several of the plants. I really can't say I understand it, but I went and collected the leaves and seeds from many of the other lamb's quarter that were around that smelly earth.
Sigh, so yes, I did end up getting a bit of the manure on my feet (I was wearing flip flops), but whatever, I just dusted it off and washed up when I got home. It was worth it because there was so much lamb's quarter! I collected about a medium-sized Ziploc baggie's worth! Yes, technically you should use a paper bag when foraging, but all I had on me were a few plastic baggies. The lamb's quarter I was collecting, FYI, is the white variety, chenopodium album, also called Fat Hen, Dirty Dick, Dirtweed, Baconweed and Mutton Tops. Poor lamb's quarter! Such horrid names! They have it tough, those "weeds." Good thing there's people like you and me who are open to plant exploration, and therefore can reap mega benefits!!
There was Wood Sorrel, oxalis stricta, or common wood sorrel with YELLOW flowers. I've erroneously mentioned her in previous posts as oxalis acetosella, WHITE-flowered wood sorrel, but I meant the yellow-flowered variety. Oopsy. Well, there are many varieties after all.
Like just this morning, I was nibbling on Sheep Sorrel. Now there's one plant you'd like to have around. Her leaves are a pleasant lemony taste, she self-seeds readily, and her root is used in the famous Essiac tea, known for helping with cancer.
Back to yesterday...The wood sorrel had large clover leaves and I just love eating a tiny handful to nibble on. She helps to cut thirst, so if you're ever out foraging without water, you can get rehydrated by munching on a few leaves. She does have oxalic acid, but so does spinach. Whoop-de-do. No one even mentions the oxalic acid content in spinach, unless you have stones and you're recommended to avoid it. More like: spinach? Oh yeah, Popeye! Well, all greens have protein in them, mister, so just you be aware of that!
Wood sorrel has a lemony taste like sheep sorrel, but the latter has a tangier taste. There were a few plants that I didn't know the names of, but I forgot my phone/camera at home. There's an FB group called Plant Identification where you can post a pic of a plant that you want IDed. I still have a few plants growing at home that I've yet to identify, so I'd like to take pics and submit them and know what they are!
Then I spent about an hour and a half at the Flower Market. The two men there have been selling flowers from various growers for the past 4 years right in the front of the local supermarket. They'll be packing it up this weekend as the growing season is well under way (and it hasn't been much of a growing season at that, what will all the rain); hence many of their plants were on liquidation. I, of course, popped by to see what plants I could squeeze somewhere into my balcony garden.
I tell ya, many of the seeds I planted did NOT come through. I thought about writing to Richter's (perhaps I still might) to give them feedback about their seeds. It might just be all the weather to blame...I've been finding that plants that I planted in one pot have been showing up in another! Like Chamomile where there should have been Greater Celandine...
Mugwort and wild carrot were creeping up a little too much in several pots, and while I gave a hug to my huge muggie just the other day, I actually took out several mugwort and wild carrot plants. They were "disturbing" the other plants that were trying to grow there! I used them in mean green pestos, of course---but really, I never thought I'd be "wrenching up the weeds" as so many others do!
Speaking of mean green pestos, I made 2 new ones just today: one with baby Sow Thistle (also called Wild Lettuce), basil and tarragon and one with mugwort, lamb's quarter and parsley. Yummers! I've been adding seeds to give them texture, but I'm thinking about revamping them so they are lower in fat.
I know, I know, I am working on writing and putting my recipes into ebooks (hence COMING SOON written elsewhere on this site a propos de said ebooks). These ones would be classified as mean green pestos, although I don't know if anybody would buy them with that kind of title! That's just my quirky sense of humor: I love greens, have indeed changed my taste buds to like, yes LIKE BITTER-TASTING GREENS. To a certain extent, of course. I don't mind a sprig of wormwood, but a sprig, mind you :) Helps to get the digestion going, gives a hand to the liver. Kills parasites too. Why not indeed :)
Still, there are different shades of bitter, after all :)
I ended up speaking with J and R, the two men at the Flower Market, for about an hour yesterday. They were saying this season they found that many people seemed too impatient to want to plant anything, however the veggie plants and herbs sold so well, they could have easily sold much more. I took it as a positive sign that people are more interested into eating healthy food! Yea!
I made J & R try the few wild edibles I had gathered---they weren't too impressed, not being salad-lovin'-kinda gents, but they said that the wood sorrel had a nice lemony feel. I do, too, as I mentioned, although I can taste the sweetness in the Vetch, which is in the pea family. I have a sensitive nose, so perhaps my taste buds are more attuned to the plant world as well :)
I ended up getting Tarragon, Marjoram (also called wild oregano), Vervain or Verbena and a Begonia plant. J told me begonias are edible and I remember reading about that somewhere. I didn't have my phone to check further, but I got her anyway. She has a lovely reddish-orange color, so even if I can't eat her (it's not really recommended to eat plants from nurseries because of the common use of pesticides and herbicides, and although this was a flower market, I wouldn't be surprised if chemicals were used to initially grow the plants), I can still enjoy her as an ornamental!
Well, I checked and Begonia X Tuberhybrida (tuberous Begonias) are edible indeed. Her name is Non-Stop Orange and apparently she'll continue to produce flowers if given light even during the dark nights of winter. Hmmm. Well, she's just got just the one flower at the moment and she's rather tiny, so I think I'll let her just concentrate on getting herself to grow big and strong. You can read more about how to grow Non-stop Begonias here and BTW, there are other Begonias that are edible besides the tuberous one (like Wax Begonias). You can read more about them here and check out a video about how to make a tartelette with Wax Begonias by Green Deane here.
That reminds me suddenly (off-topic from the previous paragraph entirely!) that R was saying that they didn't sell many perennials this year, that people came and were saying, "Ah, these plants? I already have them." Aka, how boring. That got me telling J & R about maybe offering up some new plants, like Burdock! They weren't sure what Burdock was at first, but then when the velcro plant was identified, they knew!
I told them that last year the Herbology Association had named Burdock "the plant of the year" and that many parts of the burdock plant were either edible or medicinal. The root, for example, is known in Japan as gobo and eaten fresh in soups and stews. Medicinally, the dried root is used to mop up chemicals and toxins from the body, thus helping the liver in its detoxification efforts, as well as being a liver tonic. Expensive, too, I was telling them, sold in health food stores a few sticks for 8 bucks!
Then I got to telling them about dandelion, another good herb for the liver (the root). J laughed and said, "Dandelion? I've got tons of dandelion if anyone wants any!" I said, sure, I'd come and get some! Heck, they sell dandelion leaves in health food stores, not to mention in capsules---which is just dried dandelion leaves turned into a powder. So much dandelion around, anyone can just dry the leaves on newspaper, powder the leaves in a high speed blender or coffee grinder, and then put the powder into capsules (which they sell at health food stores and elsewhere). Dandelion leaf makes an excellent diuretic, FYI.
I must say, I was on High Vibe after collecting plants, chatting about plants and eating plants, plus bringing home new plant friends! On the way home, I stopped to collect a few Milkweed buds and to get a few rose petals. The roses aren't doing so well this year, but there are still several buds that are blooming, so there will be flowers to come.
I know many people use rose buds for rose tea, but I never like taking the buds at that "stage of the game." You take the buds off and that bud never has a chance to make a fruit, or rose hip, and I love rose hips! Packed with Vitamin C, they're great to make rose hip jelly, although I like using her to make a rose hip oil for my face. I gave some to my elderly neighbor one year, and she noticed a pleasant difference to her skin :)
So, yes, you can just take the petals off the roses and make rose PETAL tea instead. It's so easy too, because when you go to take the petals, they all just fall off in your hand and the center bit (which turns into the rose hip) is left untouched. If the petals don't give, then you know they aren't ready to be picked. Simple! Well, I think so :)
And besides all this foraging, and talking about plants and growing plants, is, well, plants.
As they are.
This morning, for example, I sat on my balcony and pruned tarragon and marjoram, my newcomer plant friends. I gave a hair cut to chickweed and took some leaves off lamb's quarter. I took the flower heads off chamomile and took some leaves from marshmallow. And come lunch time, lunch was heavenly! Lemony sheep sorrel leaves melted in my mouth, wild green pesto on flax bread + wild green soup filled my belly and the pièce de résistance? Borage flowers! Such sweet, sweet taste!
I find you can't get fresher than growing your own, whether it's herbs, veggies, fruits, wild edibles, whatever.
There's THE plant, right there in your garden, whatever that garden looks like, from a large, sprawling garden to a few herbs growing in a kitchen window box or even to a balcony garden like mine. And then you eat a few leaves or flowers from this plant... and suddenly, this vibrant energy from this living plant brims over into that freshly picked leaf or flower and rushes lovingly and sharingly this vitality into you.
And you feel....
A symbiotic relationship exists between you and her.
You care for her, nurture her, keep her contented, watered, fed, loved.
And she in turn shares with you all her blessings....and sometimes her secrets, too :)
She is in a symbiotic relationship with the sun, the soil, the insects; in a symbiotic unity with the whole. She reminds you that you are also eclipsed in this universal energy, that there is indeed a mystery in rain water that can not be glimpsed by your mere gardener's hand, but that must be experienced with the heart of the person to whom this hand is attached.
She reminds you that the part can never be more than the whole, which is why when the part rallies against the whole, misery ensues, and one feels alienated and separated from the whole. One conspires all one's energy to be in misery...
And yet being here now -she reminds you that- in this place, in this space, one feels whole.
One never left home.
In a bite of freshly picked leaf or flower, one can relax into one's being and take the jump into silence....
Enjoy the freshly picked bounties of summer! 'Til next time, sunshine!
Being with plants always makes me happy.
Suddenly, before I encountered my green fairy friends, a dark storm of irritation arose from out of me. From out of nowhere. If you watch yourself closely (aka, meditate), then you'll realize that emotions exist out of your unconscious or from something on the conscious level that you don't want to face. Although you may try to blame it on other people (you know, something your parents or the society did), step up and take responsibility for your actions. You are responsible. You create your reality. You get what you want, what you create, even if it is misery. So if you aren't happy with where you are at, look inside for where you missed, for what's missing.
Of course, negative and positive emotions are just two poles of one energy, so when the negative emotions come up, just watch them and let them subside. Just like a rollercoaster, no emotion (negative or positive) can last long, and you'll see that once the storm has passed, the clouds are breaking and the sun is shining through.
That's exactly what happened to me today. I didn't try to interpret the irritation (OK, maybe once, when my mind linked to a TCM classification that I have some liver issues going on). I just felt irritated that I was irritated!
Then I went to the mall to run some errands. Lo and behold, hello, hello, what do I see, but beauties growing up bigger and stronger. Lamb's quarter, oh yes indeed, and big wood sorrel leaves, so tasty and lemony, and big dandelion leaves (of course) too. I asked the plants who wanted to be in my soup I had going on in the crockpot and proceeded to take leaves from several lamb's quarter plants. Really, it was like a family of lamb's quarter was growing in just one little area! I munched on a few sprigs of vetch flowers (not quite at their highest potency just yet) before whizzing on back home.
After parking my bike, what sight befell my eyes but dandelion seeds, twinkling like crystallized light on the green grass. Oh yes indeed, fairies must surely fly on dandelion "wings." Dandelion seeds weren't just in the grass, they were lying there in all my pots where the earth was exposed. Sssh, fairies have come to visit! While I couldn't accommodate them all and must have taken out at least 100 seeds out, I told them to go and find other homes, to help out other fine people!
Rain, rain has made it not so interesting for foraging, but I brought a new beauty home. Her name is chrysanthemum, and she got a pretty new orange purse repurposed/upcycled as a planter. The orange color of the purse really pops, making an interesting and attractive garden piece --- perhaps even a conversation piece?!
I went and visited all my plants to see how they were doing. They had invited me the other day, but the rain made things not such good timing. Today I perused all the plants, oohing and aahing over who had grown bigger, who had flowered, who had finally made the jump and put forth little seedlings, and who had found homes in pots that were never officially planted. Although many would frown upon finding "weeds" in their pots, I always smile at seeing who is growing in another's pot. Lamb's quarter was growing with lavender and chickweed was growing with marjoram, for example. I let them grow together, so long as it's a symbiotic relationship. I did take out a nettle that was growing with yarrow, because nettle takes up so much room and yarrow gets "annoyed." So I just plucked her out and put her with her nettle family growing in another pot.
Yes, should I have a garden one day (would be quite nice), I should have a sign that says, "Weeds, walk this way," with all reverence being used for the word "weed!" And perhaps another, "Gnome place like gnome," and another still, "Where fairies do indeed roam."
I was positively buzzing and bubbling with happy energy after such a lovely visit---all right, some positive energy might be attributed to the chocolate I ate, a gal's best friend!
Speaking of which, there's a smell of Italian herbs in the air, more specifically, coming from two crockpots in the kitchen. There's going to be another mean green soup ahead, this time with violet leaves, dandelion leaves, wood sorrel, plantain, sorrel, mugwort, radish leaves and fresh rhubarb; some carrots and beets and some pumpkin from last year's fall; and finally, ah ha! some special herbs added to the brew: dried dandelion root, burdock root, bupleurum root, astragalus root...
Yes, yes, let us be rooted in the earth! Let us be well nourished by plant spirit energy! Let us be thankful and appreciative for the bounty that plants bring, for the beings that they are, for the energy that they share! Let us be receptive and open...and dance with the fairies on dandelion wings!
Crystallize the energy.
Find the thread of meditation in all.
It is more than enough.
Did a mini foraging go at work of less than an hour. As it rained yesterday and as they mowed just a few days prior, I was looking for wild edibles to add to my mean green portion of my soup --- then I add the sweet root veggies bit like carrots, yam and squash to sweeten it all out! Oh, and some Italian seasoning herbs, fresh or dried, like rosemary, basil, dill, parsley...sure, you know those ones! Fresh basil is one of all-time favorites!! :)
So back to the wild greens! I found the usual plants I've spoken (OK, written) about before, like dandelion leaves, violet leaves (really, they do so well hiding behind these other plants in the shade, some bigger than my hand!), Dame Rocket leaves and flowers and a couple of plantain leaves. I also got a few White Clover flowers (trifolium repens) and some leaves and I got some leaves from several Oxalis Acetosella, or Wood Sorrel. The mower did quite a good job I'm afraid :(
As I was going to pack my goodies into a bag, what should I find, but three baby spiders! Each in their own corner of the plastic container I used to gather the greens. Yes, 3 brothers are we! I don't know, that's what came to mind! They had a white body and a black dot right on their bum! I was able to put two of them back in the yard---yes, they were doing just fine before I came along, so it's only nice to put them back. The other one kept falling amongst the leaves, so I'm waiting for him to scramble back up and get back to his wild outdoorsy adventure! Yes, I also put back a green aphid. Oh pooh, I know what you're thinking. Oh, no, not aphids, they're so bad! So E-V-I-L. I'm sure there are plenty more out there and there are bugs that eat aphids as their food (like ladybugs). All part of the eco-system, my dear!!
There's this field that gets mowed once in a while that I'd like to check out and see what's growing there. Last year I saw dandelion (of course), burdock, yarrow and what I thought was mint, but never properly identified it. It smelled fine fresh but awful dried. Not sure if it was catmint or something else, which is why 100% identification is a really good rule to follow.
When I was taking herbology classes, my teacher told us that there weren't any plants here in our area that could kill us, not, that is, if we follow our foraging guidelines:
As I write this, I'm thinking, oopsy, I didn't do any of those things for that "catmint," was it? So better to do so this time around!
I'd also like to explore a big field that I saw when I passed by the hardware store. Now that the clover is blooming, it's gonna be time to be collectin'! And I speculate that she'll be growing there with quite a few of her other friends!
Also hoping to get the rest of my seeds sowed, perhaps tomorrow, but no later than Monday. Also gotta be making my stinky soup. Boy, how I love that stinky soup. So good for the body, and the soul! Eat it every day, no complaints from me at all! In fact, I'm most grateful for the healthy blessings that my herby friends bestow on me and my belly!
Seems likes it's gonna be a plant-filled weekend, so off to beddies so I can hop to it!
PS. Seems the third brother has a different destiny: I finally was able to get him onto a leaf after he fell into the container again a few more times. Then he crawled onto me and swung off on a web somewhere. He never made it back to the wild, but perhaps our paths will meet again. Meantime, I bet you he's already installed himself into a nice web and is just chillin' out, waiting for some supper to come along!
See you next time!
Curiosity Got The Cat: