25 September 2014

Plant wish list* shortened

Last Saturday it was plant market day at the Hortus botanicus in Amsterdam. Could I stay away? Of course not. Whilst I'm not looking for a rare species of orchidee or geranium, I had a hunch there might be something special for me as well.

And I actually gave a tiny squeal of joy when I found seeds of Passiflora incarnata, and of Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). A grown-up giving a spontaneous squeal of joy, because of seeds? Yes, that's me.

(* You can find the plant wish list in the column, left. I'm all in for swapping seeds/small plants. Just drop me a line with your wishlist!)

Happy as a child I was eager to see if there were other great treasures to find. And as by magic, I was drawn to a stall with lots of tiny trees... Walnut trees. (and pecan nut trees, but let's stick to the walnuts now, shall we?)
But...eeh...we have a walnut tree already. And walnut trees grow huge.
"Hello. How big does a walnut tree get?"
"Oh, these will be about 7meters high in 30 years."
About a dozen questions later I walked away with our Walnut tree No.2 (on the photo on the left).
Because these, Juglans regia "Chiara" produce lots and lots of walnuts, with an oil percentage of 55%!  You can find the nursery through this link.

On my way out my eyes caught on a small pomegranate tree (Punica granatum), and after a short inner quarrel about its chances to survive the mid-European winter at 750m altitude the doubting mind gave in to the adventurous optimist and here we are, two trees more to fit in.

At the beginning of the summer holiday one tree didn't fit in the car because of all the other luggage (and plants). So I thought I'd take it along "the next time". Mental note: trees grow. Now we'll have to find out how we cram in this young sugar maple. ...It's looking quite flexible, don't you think?

20 September 2014

Elderberry syrup

With the crazy weather we've been having lately (cold mornings, hot afternoons), everyone in our little family is sneezing and wiping their nose every now and then.
Enter Elderberry Syrup!

At the end of August I was lucky enough to find lots of elderberries, and harvested some, leaving plenty for the birds to feast on. I didn't use sugar when making the syrup, but added runny honey instead at the end of the process. I'm storing the little bottle in the fridge, and will keep an sharp eye on it in case it should go bad. So far we've been very lucky - no one's really caught a cold yet (thank you, Elder!) and there's still plenty of the syrup left.

 Here's how I made mine:

1 part ripe elderberries + 0.5 part water (I didn't have much elderberries, maybe 250ml)
a little stick of cinnamon
1 whole clove
 2 tbspns chopped, fresh ginger

Simmer and stir occasionally for 1 hour+, or until reduced by half.

Add honey at the end, when you're done with simmering the syrup (I used 1 tbsp, it could use more).
Strain, bottle and label.

Store in the fridge.

You can take 1 tsp/hr when you feel flu coming on, or make a warm drink of it by adding hot water and some freshly squeezed lemon juice to it.

Please note: be very sure of what you harvest when wild-harvesting! If you're not 100% certain you know the plant, don't pick of it. With medical conditions always consult your medical specialist!

15 September 2014

Herbal walk

Today I enjoyed a herbal walk with Lynn from Urban Herbology at Park Frankendael. Lovely weather, a great group and a wonderful walk in a beautiful park - what more could you ask for?
We, the participants came from the Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland, UK and Finland (ahem!) and went back to our Amsterdam homes full with useful information. Thank you Lynn!

You can find more about Urban Herbology here:

11 September 2014

What's brewing?

This is what I bought home the first time during the vacation. Some Nettle roots (later I found a spot where I could harvest thick, long ones), Plantain (Pantago major), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Mallow (Malva sylvestris).

I like this photo, it is illustrating 'the first touch' so very well. Tentatively, I took home a few treasures to look at, hold and wonder upon.

Later I got more close with the herbs on the wild-grown land, and felt their generosity. And I saw the abundance! With gratitude, I picked of the plants above, and of Rose petals, Goldenrod, Mullein and Mugwort.

Some are now dried, stored in glass jars, and in my medicine drawer waiting for future direct use or medicine-making. Others are swimming in alcohol and/or honey, apple cider vinegar or oil. From 6th October onwards I will be filtering the goodness, transferring them into herbal remedy bottles.

from left to right: yarrow tincture, plantain tincture, mullein tincture, rose-and mugwort elixir and the next jar :)

The longer I'm in contact with this form of art, the more my intuition opens, and old knowledge surfaces, becomes accessible again.

As I read the books and online information on herbal medicine and am in contact with the herbs, the clearer it becomes to me: this is how it is meant to be. Our human bodies are a part of the nature of this planet. Why wouldn't the interaction with plants then heal our bodies and help us in balancing the energy flows in these bodies?

It is an ecosystem of its own, with well-balanced healing agents helping other living beings (humans, animals and other plants, in a symbiotic relationship) perfectly.