Tuesday 30 March 2010

Medicine of the Hedgerow

It’s almost a year since the Spring Tonic Walk on the Wild side when Charlotte and I led a group of fellow transitioners from the Norwich and Bungay initiatives on an introductory visit to the native plants and flowers around our neighbourhood lanes.

Spring is really late this year. At the World Beyond Oil talks on Saturday there were all sorts of end of winter coughs and sniffles in amongst the facts about peak oil and climate change.

But just in time those green guardians nettles and cleavers are making their appearance and I’ve just seen some dandelions in flower down the lane. These three great tonic and cleansing herbs are the right wild thing to clear our cold sluggish phlegmy systems after the long, cold (but hopefully not too lonely) winter. Nettle tea, nettle soup, cleavers tea, cleavers soup, nettle and cleavers tea and soup, dandelion leaves in salads, dandelion flowers in salads... however you take them they will nourish, galvanise and electrify you. And you can find these plants anywhere.

Recently I came across Hedgerow Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal (who live just outside Norwich). Published in 2008, it is a clear and friendly introduction to the manifold and free benefits of wild plants, and is filled with instructions for making your own home medicines. The yarrow salve you see in the picture I made from a recipe using olive oil and beeswax.

Happy Spring foraging!

Pics: Spring Oak by Karen Alexander taken on the Spring Tonic Walk April 4th 2009; Yarrow Salve and Hedgerow Medicine

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