Immersion 20, October 10th

Generosity, Garden Gifts, Genius and Gems
This week at Viriditas…
I give heartfelt thanks to my neighbours and others in Lake Hawea and Luggate. It has been a week of Berry planting, Raspberries, Black Currants and Strawberries, all gifts. Non berry gifts also, native brooms, more Phormiums (Flaxes), and a precious gem of a sun loving plant I have not seen before. Thank you AU, Ad and U.
The latter has a beautiful dog, a 5 day old mother (an excellent rabbiter) and a beautiful litter of puppies, I am tempted. He is greyish brown with a silver overlay – ghost like I think to myself. (Parentage? Border Collie/Pointer with possibly a Staffy father).
I have two lots of visitors this week, LV and K&M G. I enjoyed having their visions of the land I am custodian of. LV dreams of water gardens in the pond, KG stands in a place I have not yet walked and shows me the Guardians of this land. Towering rocks that have a powerful presence. I will go back to that place to see if they ‘show’ themselves to me on my own.

KG and I talk about how we view the natural world. As Benazir Mull-Ahdol after the Summer Camp in the Pamirs said “You showed us that nature is alive!”
It is not about “what plant is that” it is “who is that being?”

If we take the time we can participate in an intimate relationship with any animate or inanimate being. That develops as I take the new course participants through engaging the natural world. (The Traditions, Art and Science of Herbal Medicine’ available now on-line.)

I watch as plants grow in the early Spring, acres of St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) and Rosehips (Rosa canina). The fragrance of the latter as it comes into leaf is exhilarating. Burdock (Arctium lappa) is growing all over the flat area, as is Horehound (Marrubian vulgare). There will be Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus), Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa- pastoris), Chickweed (Stellaria media) and mignionette in abundance. A chamomile that is matting everywhere, not Matricaria recutita – maybe Anthemis nobilis and not the common ‘dog’ chamomile. I am delighted to find a patch of Californian poppies (Eschscholtzia californica), but it is the annual Nettle (Urtica urens) that is the gem of all wild plants. Protectors of other sensitive plants such as Chickweed, her genius is that she protects the caterpillars of the Red Admiral butterfly that I now see in increasing numbers. They will love it when I actually have Echinacea growing – the Echinacea flowers are a veritable feast for the adults.

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I am so grateful for the presence of the annual Stinging Nettle in abundance. It has kept the rabbits away from trees, the gardens and other plantings.
I have planted Urtica dioica but the annual is growing abundantly now. It is almost too late to cut as the Red Admiral butterfly is laying eggs.

I love nettles as well and drink it often
Nettle infusions
Dried Nettle infusion
This is prepared by pouring a litre of near boiling water over 2 big handfuls of plant material in a covered container. That is, a litre to about 15gm of herb. Traditional preparations used 30 gm of herb. It is best in a preserving or canning jar that has a screw top lid. The plant material can be left in for 4 to eight hours for stems, leaves and fruits. Strain and refridgerate.

I am now sitting with my cup of ‘green milk’, I like it best cold.
Why do I drink it regularly?

Uses of Stinging Nettle infusion
• a great source of bio-available vitamins and minerals for all people
• as a source of silica for all connective tissue, hair, teeth, skin and nails
• as a blood tonic
• for people with gout
• for people who have recurring kidney stones
For all people drink 1-3 cups daily

Question
What does it taste like?
Well it is a little strange at first, milky, ‘green’ and earthy.
I find it immensely satisfying and it leaves you feeling completely nourished.

Bud burst continued from last post…

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Once you know Ginkgo biloba in its form you will know it in bud – unmistakeable. Folded, opening to fan, lining these fans up you will get a cross section of the brain. It is also one of the oldest trees in the world, resilient and often planted where there is a high degree of pollution. Combine those two factors and it is interesting that it is beneficial for many of the conditions of brain function in older people. (Dementia, Alzheimers, memory loss) It improves circulation to the periphery of the body and definitely to the brain. It is also beneficial to that other part of the male body that often has a mind of it own – it helps for those with erectile dysfunction. One study also demonstrated that it improved female libido for those going through menopause.
A warning though – it will reduce platelet stickiness and therefore increase bleeding – not for those on blood pressure medication or with heavy menstrual bleeding.
I am reminded this week how important it is to know the inner nature of a plant, its qualities as well as its constituent complex. A herbal supplement was suggested OTC to a client of mine that was entirely wrong for her. My suggestion, being firstly informed and then seeking professional help to fine tune information can save a lot of money.

The first weekend of ‘The Traditions, Art and Science of Herbal Medicine’ with 8 amazing participants here in Wanaka evolved as always, in a different experience, expansive yet grounding, an edge of mystery and huge respect for the plants, their relationship with us, the climate and the participants. Thank you all.
If you would like to study this on-line – Email me for a Introduction and Outline isla@HerbCollege.com

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Maybe Next Post: Maybe I should give up on the future posts prediction BUT I am in Gisborne, NZ for a couple of workshops next week, House/Garden developments are evolving rapidly, I protect my plantings further from those furry 4 leggeds, the Lime blossom is well past bud burst and my insights into Phormium, the New Zealand Flax can wait.

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