It has been a pleasure and delight to wear my thick gloves and walk along the local lanes hedgerows and our garden to pick nettles. Dark green vibrant beauties, tall, strong, fibrous and tough. Or to gather edible primrose flowers from the back garden in spring. Or elderflowers with their scented heads and beautiful tiny snowy flowers, that cover my fingers in yellow pollen and give me the gift of the joyous smell of early Summer. The dandelions are out in flower too. From the bathroom window I can see their bright heads, along with the golden buttercups dancing in the breeze in amongst the lush grass. One day out walking I discovered a huge clump of wild apple mint, with it’s furry soft leaves and fresh homely smell.
Hawthorn too is just starting to lose it’s pure white blossom petals to the wind (it has been a very late start for lots of plants here in Wales). This was the tree that was planted in olden days to protect the household from all ill and bad fortune. Said to be inhabited by faeries, the mystical Hawthorn tree (nicknamed by me as our ‘Crone Tree’) is a wise and very welcome member of our back garden. Ancient British folklore connects it with the fertile festival of Beltane, May day, and Goddess-centred worship practices by priestesses in sacred groves of Hawthorn planted in the round. Drinking an infusion of the blossoms and leaves of this tree, or an infusion of the berries, come Autumn, are good for the heart and circulation. The heart is a central theme of this tree of wondrous natural beauty, strong wood, and herbal medicine.
“The etheric signature of the Hawthorn appears to have a pulsation which is similar to that of the human heartbeat. Before taking Hawthorn, herbally or as a flower essence, it is a good idea to tune into your heartbeat for a few minutes, to help you consciously align with the energy of the Hawthorn. The Hawthorn will help release blocked energy, not only releasing stress, but creating an ability to trust and let go of fear. The energy of love is opened. For this reason, the Hawthorn is particularly potent as a tool for healing affairs of the heart and can be given as a token of friendship and love.” Glennie Kindred.
I have been cackling with joy and skipping down the lanes at every opportunity since discovering all the uses and healing properties of all these incredible plants… and we call them weeds – how terrible! Susun Weed, a wonderful author and herbalist has been excellent help and a huge source of inspiration to me as I have sat for hours reading her quirky books with delight and wonder, with the excited feeling that I am entering into a whole new secret world of vital ancient knowledge. Viva nourishing herbal infusions, herbal vinegars, and elderflower champagne!
The act of foraging, picking, de-insecting, rinsing, drying, labelling, and storing all bring out such a sense of child-like joy in me! I feel like it is something I was born to do; earthy and freeing, and a huge step towards the increasingly natural life I want to lead. It is even stirring old memories from my childhood, of picking up rose petals from the ground and making rose-water ‘perfume’ with my sister, the sweet smell of mum’s apple mint plant that used to dominate the garden and spread like wild fire every year, the intriguing mystical dark and shaded place at the bottom of the garden, where fairies were felt and stories of magic were told beneath the crab apple and plum tree.
Foraging, gathering, tending to, blessing and caring for the plants, fresh and natural, local and chemical free, is like some kind of living dream!! For more recipes like the primrose dandelion and sorrel salad, visit the beach house kitchen.