Merry Rambler

My photo
I am a Reiki & Meditation Teacher. I wander among the realms of the I Ching &The Tree Ogham I have an allotment by the sea which is my haven & retreat.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Herbal Rescue Remedy - Valerian officinalis

Valerian - I am getting Sleepy

 After a stressful time before Christmas I found my sleep was disrupted and  my back and shoulders and neck were aching. This pain, I suspected, was because I was tense rather than a strain from digging on my plot.. Finally just after Christmas  I developed  a heavy cold and cough,  Then I was more frequently waking up in the night and finding it difficult to get back to sleep.  During the day I felt exhausted.  After a couple of day of this I set off  find a herbal rescue remedy. I went to see my local Medical Herbalist. Sandy,  After a consultation we decided that Valerian was the rescue remedy I need.

I used one teaspoon to make herbal infusion which I drank half an hour before I went to bed. It worked almost immediately, although at first I was still woken in the night by my busy mind chattering away, or a bout  of  coughing would wake me.   However I  was more relaxed and I was able to get back to sleep much more quickly. Gradually my sleep pattern has returned to normal.   The aches in my back, shoulder and neck were eased effectively.. I used Valerian tea  for ten days..  It seemed wise not to use it continuously but only when needed.  It is not addictive but I did not want to become psychologically dependent on it to get to sleep.

The taste of Valerian is for many people unpleasant and often they add honey and lemon, or mint to it. I found it OK and took it straight without additions.

Healing with Valerian

All parts of Valerian have sedative effect but the highest concentration is in the roots. Valerian has been compared to Valium, but Valerian is much safer and milder sedative and muscle relaxant and does not have side effects  of Valium. Valerian is contained in many over the counter medicines to ease insomnia and to deal with stress.. In Germany over 100 medicines have Valerian as the active ingredient as sleep aids and tranquilizers, some of which are suitable for children over 2 years old.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin musician and Herbalist

The modern story of the Pied Piper has him enchanting the Rats with his flute playing but early German Folklore credits him as being a accomplished herbalist and he charmed the rats and children with the hypnotic effect of Valerian and his flute.  It would have certainly worked on the rats  Rats and cats love it and sprawl and roll on the plant in ecstasy. It has a similar effect on cats as catnip. Raymondo cat would bruise the leaves of catnip by rolling on them each morning.  I had a supply of Pots for him to enjoy,   If the Pied Piper had given the children a drink containing Valerian it could have relaxed any fears they may have had about following the Piper out of Hamelin

The Greeks and Romans called  Valerian  Fu  - phew  -because of its taste, it was used as a diuretic, antidote to poison, pain relied and by  Galen as a decongestant.  Around the 10th Century it began to be called Valerian  derived from the Latin "valeo" meaning  " I am well".   It was known in local folklore as  "all well" suggesting its use as an ancient medicine.  The term officinalis  reflects the fact that monks and nuns distilled  this herb  in their herbarium still room. The 10th Century the German Abbess  Hildegard  of Bingen, a distinguished  herbalist, recommended it as a tranquilizer and sleep aid.

Culpeper in the seventeenth Century described Valerian as:
As Excellent  against nervous affections
During the World War 1 Valerian was prescribed for soldiers with shattered nerves as a result of the artillery bombardment and the horrors of life they had to endure on the battlefields. and in the trenches.

David Hoffman author of  book Holistic Herbal calls Valerian
one of the most useful relaxing herbs.
I am glad that my Medical Herbalist Sandy recommended  its used  at a time for me of sudden stress and illness.  I take most herbal remedies as a cold infusion or as  herbal tea of fresh or dried herbs rather than taking supplements or over the counter medicines..

Growing Valerian on My Plot.

I am wondering whether to grow Valerian on my plot, it is a hardy perennial.  It can be grown from seed or root cuttings. The seeds however, have a short viability, therefore  I  would need to get a root. It grow in the wild in marshy places and damp hedgerows, It grows to 5 or 6 feet, the flowers are pale pink or white, the leaves grow in pair which distinguish it from Kentranthus-ruber or Garden Valerian. which grows leaves in groups and the flowers are like red spurs.  Garden Valerian in the wild  grows on cliffs and in stone walls.

Valerian officinals  does have odour which the herbalist Michael Moor described as:
Like the smell of dirty socks
Hmm may be I will think again about growing it on my plot!

To help with quieting the mind before going to sleep you may like to listen to ELFENTHAL The early music ensemble playing "Caritas in abundat omnia"  a chant composed by Hildegard of Bingen  
 Love lives in all things, from these lowest being to the highest stars

 Wishing You Good Sleep and Reiki blessing


Herbal Rescue Remedy - Chocolate

Over Christmas and the New Year I had a heavy cold and hacking cough.  to find relief from the symptoms I search my Herbal rescue basket, herbal notebook and my collection of books on herbs.  I was surprised to find that chocolate was good for chest congestion. colds and flu.

I had already brought some Fair Trade, organic raw cacao to make hot chocolate for my visitors over the holiday season, I could now have some not only for the feel good factor but also to help get rid of my cough and cold. -  Oh Yum yum or Num Num as my cat friends say!

Chocolate has been maligned as the devils food.

It has been accredited as causing tooth decay, obesity, acne, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetics.   It has been cited as the cause of headaches, heart burn. Chocolate that has high amounts of fat, sugar added and too much could lead to weight gain which could lead to heart disease, diabetics.

Hey isn't the sugar and fat that cause the problem in some chocolate confectionery -  not Cacao and Dark 60% Chocolate?

Chocolate  reputation has been rising in the last few years as a number of studies have suggested that it could be a health choices.  Not milk or white chocolate but 60% dark chocolate. Though no-one has suggested yet that is a health food

Cacao appears to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Flavanols in Cacao beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols — which are more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate.  It also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function. (Mayo Clinic)

Dark chocolate is rich in vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron, which can aid in preventing stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.( Women Health Review)

There are more health benefits from Chocolate which are well documented in medical and health literature.  Chocolate and especially raw Cacao is good for you. but not in huge quantities, 1 oz a day is the recommended amount to eat for health.   I bought a 200g pack of Raw Cacao before Christmas and have used only 70g up to today.   I have used it in drinks with milk or almond milk on cereal, and with nut butter and drinks for friends.  100g of raw cacao has 309 calories and only 9.5 g of fat and 1.5g of sugar..   These calories have been spread over 28 or more days.  I have really enjoyed using it, and it has given me health benefits and has been a great treat and pick-me-up when suffering the misery of bad cold and cough.  Yea   - three cheers for Cacao!

Chocolate and cacao  contain caffeine but about 10 to 20 percent of  that coffee.  So it can be a good alternative to coffee to beat drowsiness, and without the jitters that drinking Coffee can sometimes bring. However gorging on chocolate may  give  you a high but then can quickly  plummet you into a slump.  

Chocolate Aztec gold to Fair Trade co-operatives.

Thinking about chocolate made me realize that I knew very little about it where does the Cacao  grows?  Now I know it grows in  Peru and along the equator.  I am going to find more about the Fair Trade Cooperatives for farmers who grow Cacao

I also did not know what the Cacao trees and its fruit and the beans looked like.  I certainly do not think I have seen the flowers before. They are beautiful, would stunning be a better word? These produce the cacao beans which were the Aztec's gold.

I love this picture of Wild Cacao flowers.

Chocolate was not known in Europe until 1509 when Cortez was given it in a drink in golden beaker, he was interested in the gold beaker but the Aztec ruler Montezuma informed him the 100 of the beans was worth more than the gold of the beaker. 

Cortez took chocolate back to Spain and it was kept a secret from Europe until 1660.  It was most popular in Holland and England where milk and sugar was added, it was was not until about 150 years ago that it was made into the bars and the sweets we are so familiar with today.

Chocolate is now in my Herbal Remedy basket for the feel good factor and for its health benefits.  

My Conclusion is dark Chocolate and especially Raw Fair Trade, Organic Cacao is good for you. 
 Are you a believer?

With Reiki blessings and a chocolate kiss


Here is a link to the Kitchen and recipes for healthy Hot Chocolate for you

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Nettle A safe Haven & A Tonic For Spring

 uriica dioica urticaceae

Much of the old lore has been lost and patent medicine have been allowed to usurp the place of herbal tea, but at last herbs are coming into their own again    
 Eleanor Sinclare Rhodes - A Garden of Herbs 1936
The nettle with its white flowers and dark green leaves is a common sight on road verges on waste ground  on the margins of fields and woods, in church yards.  They prefer moist, rich soil. There are three varieties of nettle in the UK: the Common Stinging Nettle, the small Annual Nettle, and The Roman Nettle which has green flowers.

To many people at my allotment nettles are something to be eradicated  with a glyphosate based weed killer. I would never suggest  that nettles should be left to grow without some control, the perennial stinging nettle is herbaceous plant with creeping roots.  In loose new dug soil rich with organic matter and high phosphate levels it can spread very quickly The creeping surface stems can extend  for a considerable distance, rooting at the nodes and producing aerial shoots. The annual Nettle can produce 10,000 seeds or more.

I had nettles growing on the edge of my plot by my water butt where they flourished as the prefer moist soil which I provided each time I dipped my watering can into the butt.  However after a few too many painful stings to my arms and legs I dug them out.  I moved them to the bottom of my plot near the crab tree.  This area is out of the way and is easily controlled by regular hoeing of the creeping roots and seedlings.  Sometimes they spread into my grass but  with frequent mowing the roots soon disappear.

It is small annual nettle that  so often stings the unwary garden in late Spring and Summer.  The Annual Nettle for a small plant  packs a hefty sting, however the heftiest sting is caused by the Roman Nettle, thankfully quite rare. The sting is  contained in the hairs of the nettle.  The sting contains three chemicals, histamine, which irritates the skin, Acetylcholine which gives the burning sensation  and Serotonin which cause the two chemicals to interact when a careless brush of a nettle  by a hand or bare leg.  Plantain leaves are the best remedy for nettle stings better even than a dock leaf or lavender.  Just crush the leaves and rub it on the skin.

Roman soldiers probably brought nettle plants and seeds with them when came with Julius Caesar to Britain.  They would flay their legs with nettles, and rub them on their cold feet and hands  to warm the skin and return the circulation after long marches in the chilly and damp climate of Britain.  This practice called urtication is still used to day by herbalist for treatment of gout. Many of the remedies for sports injuries today create a burning sensation usually called Deep Heat very like the sensation of a nettle sting.
Elsa Knitting nettle shirts
Wild swans Hans Christian Anderson

Nettles have been used as a herb and   also for weaving cloth for thousands of years, shrouds have been found in bronze age burials woven from nettles.  It was used  extensively for clothing, sheets, tablecloths until the sixteenth centenary in Scotland. Only beginning replaced by the introduction of flax and cotton. 

In the Hans Christian Anderson Fairy tale called The Wild swans, a tale of the enchantment of 11 brothers by their evil stepmother who turns them into wild swans. The spell is broken by their sister, Elsa knitting 11 shirts from nettles.

During the First World War in Germany clothes and even army uniforms were made from nettle cloth.  In England in The Second World War 90 tons of nettles were collected yearly.  from the nettles its dark green dye was extracted for camouflage material and the chlorophyll for tonics and other medicines.

Nettles are wonderful healing herb, Hippocrates, 460 to 377 BC, recorded 61 remedies for ailments using stinging Nettles.  Nettles in Spring can be valuable tonic, Nettles have a high vitamin  A & C content plus iron..  Nettle wine and beer are popular country drinks, especially in Spring.

I drink nettle tea in Spring, sometimes adding young mint leaves.  Nettle soup is also a favorite.  So grasp the nettle (with gloves) and enjoy.  This recipe is based on a recipe from James Wong's Book Grow your own drugs.

25g/1oz butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g/14oz potatoes, peeled and chopped
450 g/ 1lb freshly picked nettle tops (wear gloves to collect), washed
1 litre vegetable stock
150ml/ ¼ pint double cream
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large pan, melt the butter and gently cook the onion and garlic for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and nettles and fry for 2 minutes. Add the stock and cover, then bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Leave to cool.

2. Purée the ingredients with a handheld bender, then stir in the cream and season with a little nutmeg, salt and pepper. Reheat and serve at once.

But my favorite is Nettle Pesto  is based  on another James Wong  recipes

Just cook a big handful of the tender young nettle tips (about 150 g one cup) in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain, then drop into a blender along with some freshly grated Parmesan, 2 chopped garlic cloves, I prefer to use wild garlic cloves, a handful of pine nuts or sunflower seeds and about 80 ml  of olive oil. Whiz until smooth, then spoon over freshly cooked pasta and mix in well. It will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Only collect nettlesaway from road pollution and where no chemicals have been sprayed.

red admirals feeding on sediums
Nettle are important not just for their food and medicinal value they are important habitat for wildlife,   Bees and our butterflies are in decline and Bumble bees visit nettles for food and for some of our icon butterflies' life cycles nettles are crucial. The Red Admiral butterfly lays its eggs from June to September on the young leaves of nettles the caterpillar makes a tent at the base of a leaf and as it grows make bigger and bigger tents until it makes a tent of several nettle leaves when it is ready to pupate into chrysalis.  These tents are easy to see  from July to October.

Other butterflies that use nettle to lay their eggs are the Comma, Peacock butterflies lay their eggs on the under side of nettle leaves.  The Small Tortoiseshell lays hundreds of eggs on the underside of young nettles.  the painted lady butterfly lays her eggs on several plants including nettles.  the list goes on.

Nettles can be invasive, there sting is painful and unwelcome, but before reaching for the weed killer think about leaving a patch of nettles for the butterflies. The reward will be the sight of theses beautiful insects fluttering about our gardens in Spring and Summer and even on warm Autumn or Winter days. Watch them while, perhaps, drinking nettle wine, beer or tea.

With Reiki blessings


Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Dandelion

The Dandelion
taraxacum officinale 
Everyone knows this plant, In May the meadows,filled with the radiant yellow blossom can be seen from long distance.  The leaves including the roots are eaten as salad.  In autumn there roots contain a lot of sugar.  Hare, Rabbits. birds and cattle like it very much. The Dandelion has existed since the time of creation of the universe and sows itself.  Father John Kunzle, Herbs & Weeds, 1911 
I do have dandelions on my plot, I have a patch by the gate.   I love to see the the sunshine flowers in Spring and the bumble bees that nest on my plot appreciate their early flowering. One naturalist counted 93 different insects visiting a patch of dandelions.

 I try not to let them seed and produce that wonderful round seed head like  a white downy clock that I use to play with as a child.  I would  huff and puff them away counting the time.  I do not do that now as I do want them to seed all over my plot as they are difficult to root out once they get their tap root down into the soil.

 Gertrude Jekyll  recommended carry a blunt knife with you as you garden and tackle dandelions with it.:
If you cannot get the dandelion right up you should scratch away some of the top soil and cut away the root as far down as you can with the blade of the knife. Gertrude Jekyll 1908.
For many people the dandelion is just a despised as a weed, but it is a valuable healing herb that has been used for thousand of year and probably longer.  The Ancient Chinese Herbalist  would prescribe dandelion for colds, bronchitis, boils ulcers, obesity  and for kidney and bladder infections.  India's traditional Ayurvedic physicians prescribed dandelion for a similar list of complaints.

In the middle ages the "Doctrine of Signatures  used by physicians stated that parts of  plants having a resemblance to any part of the human body will have a therapeutic relationship and treat dieeases of a particular organ,therefore, the yellow flowers of the dandelion were linked to the liver's yellow bile and considered a liver remedy and a treatment for jaundice and and gall stones.  This Doctrine also valued the dandelion as diuretic because its has juicy leaves, stems and roots linked it to urine production.

By the 17th Century the  herb was well know for being a diuretic in Europe and in England where it became known as piss-a-bed from the French pissenlit.  I can remember as a child that anyone who picked a dandelion was taunted by that name. The Pilgrim Colonist in America took Dandelion seeds with them to America, were the native Indians soon recognized it as a powerful  herbal detox and tonic in spring.

 Today it is still used as a herbal infusion in Spring to detox the body and young leaves are recommended as a blood cleanser and are beneficial to the digestion, to the kidneys and in bladder complaints like cystitis. The leaves contain high degree of potassium unlike some of the other remedies for kidney and urine complaints which can cause a loss of potassium. Potassium is vital for the heart, kidney and other organs.

 Drinking dandelion tea or coffee can be beneficial to suffers of rheumatism and arthritis.  If you get stung by a bee or other insects split the stem of a dandelion flower and dab the milky sap  onto the sting for to soothe the pain. A Tea made from the young leaves gives a wonderful boast to the body and Glennie Kindred suggests Dandelion Tea made from the leaves or coffee from the roots is:

....a very useful herb for emotional stagnation, turning depression into expression and self empowerment.
Dandelion wine is one of the best country wines I have ever tasted at one time the flowers would be picked from hedgerows and fields edges but nowadays it is best made with cultivated dandelions as there is no knowing what chemicals may have been sprayed on the ground.

Do not use Dandelions if you have kidney stones and if used as diuretic for slimming it is best use it for only a few weeks.

The Dandelion's flowers glow in the sun like jewels and they are in fact a jewel of a healing herb.

With Reiki's golden light



Saturday, 8 February 2014

Couch Grass A Healing Herb, Or An Invasive Weed?

While browsing through a bookcase full of old family books I came across a Pelican books called British herbs by Florence Ranson which must have belonged to my mother.  It was written in 1949.  I took it into my study and sat and started to scan through it.  I was totally surprised to read Couch grass was a valuable herb.  I only saw it as an invasive grass that crept into my beds and I  had to tussled with it every year. 

Pops dog obviously knew this plant as healing herb because she would often seek out and eat couch grass at the allotment in preference to other grasses.  So this grass that I considered a invasive nuisance had been known since Roman times and through the centuries as a valuable herb. During the Second World War it was grown to replace imported herbs need for bladder and kidney ailments. It cleanses the kidneys and liver and herbalist down ages have acclaimed it as a beneficial herb.

  Gerald writing in the sixteenth centuary wrote:
"Although the couch grasse be an unwelcome guest to fields and gardens, yet his physicke virtues do recompense those hurtes."
The French consider couch grass as a spring tonic where it is made into a herbal tea to detoxify the body. The Swiss naturopath,  Dr. Alfred Vogel  recognized that this tea was: 

an: excellent infusion as it stimulates the liver’s cleansing capabilities as well as promotes the body’s natural immunity to fight against diseases easily and for long term."
 I was ignorant of the herbal benefits of couch grass until I read Florence Ranson's book,  but Pops instincts leads her to eat this grass as a detox,  Couch grass tastes sweet and is a member of the same family as the sugar cane.   Birds and poultry enjoy the seeds,in fact all grain and plants Millet, wheat, rye, oats and barley are cultivated forms of this family.

The part of the plants used as a herbal remedy are distilled from the roots which are harvested in the Spring and Autumn.  All those rhizomes and roots I try to dig out of my beds at my plot. Despite being a beneficial herb,  I do not think it is a herb I will be brewing tea from at my plot.   Apparently it does not have a pleasant taste when made from the powdered roots, although some people like the sweet taste of a green juice made from the leaves and stems of the plant.

I still think it is an invasive grass but as I dig it out I will have more respect for it as a healing herb.

 With Reiki blessings

Merry B

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Winter Herbs Marjoram, or is it Oregano?

Pot Marjoram Norfolk herbs
While I was at my plot a friend gave me a Pot Marjoram plant he had just divided.  It was a welcome gift.  I have golden Oregano Acorn bBank but had lost my  sweet Marjoram Dittany and no longer had this one either. Before planting I cut back the stems and flower heads and this released the wonderful volatile  oils and I was reminded of walking through wild marjoram on mountain tracks in Greece.    A far cry from the cold, grey day November day here in Hampshire. Its generic name Origanum means joy of the mountain This gift lifted my spirits and was quickly planted. with on a layer  horticultural grit to increase drainage and planted In full sun it will draw in the sun's rays and release its wonderful aromatic fragrance.

A member of the lamiaceae family marjoram has the characteristic  square and covered in fine hairs stems and the leaves and its  tubular lipped flowers  are like all members of this family which include mint, hyssop, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, savoury. All this family draws butterflies and bees to them with their rich aromatic scent. They are wonderful herbs to pick fresh in summer to use in light summer salads and meals  but also enhance winter  dishes soups, stews, and roasts and can be used fresh or dried they all help the digestion of these heavier foods

Pot marjoram is similar to the  Wild Marjoram, and  forms a mound of leaves from which grow the reddish purple flower stems  loved by bees and butterflies.  It is a beautiful plant which grows uprights, unlike wild marjoram which sprawls lazily,in verges and field margins.  Wild marjoram grows to height of 18 inches or more and produces  clusters of small tubular of mauve flowers. In winter it dies back to a dry mat.This plant is often called Oregano and is popular in italian cooking as it has a more pungent taste and when dried  it is even stronger, perhaps because it is packed with high concentrations of aromatic volatile oils.  

Origanum onites sometimes know as French Oregano is a has a light spicy flavour which is a delicious with vegetable dishes.  This  Autumn I sowed seeds of the Pot Marjoram but the tiny seedlings are prone to damping off.   I have found with all the  this family of plants I have more success propagating plants from cuttings. and root divisions.  In spring I will take  cuttings from  the new growth as it is a safer way to increase the number of plants, I will  divide the Yellow Arcon Bank marjoram which is sprawling across the width of one of my beds at the allotment.  This lovely plant is a welcome gift to receive for most gardeners so if the cuttings and division are successful and and I am overwhelmed with plants someone will be happy to get a sturdy new plant of Marjoram.

Marjoram or Oregano: Can you tell the taste of  marjoram from oregano? Oregano has stronger aromatic volatile oils and is more pungent while marjoram is considered s to give a sweeter spicer flavour to sauces than oregano but then again in the UK is the  oregano in your spice rack Oregano or marjoram?  In fact there are 40 plants in four botanical families that go by the name of Oregano the botanist  must get a headache trying to sort  the difference.  It is best to enjoy these beautiful herbs in healing and cooking without worrying to much about botanical correctness of the name of the plant we are using. In Europe and America the plants is used as an aromatic spice  and its healing benefits which are as aid to digestion an arthritis treatment, in an infusion to help ease the symptoms  of coughs, colds and flu.  

In the kitchen marjoram is good to use in pasta, rice,  dishes like moussaka, or sprinkled on roast lamb or pork before cooking. here is a recipe for a potato pie potatoes:

1 lb of Potatoes thinly sliced and layered
 4 finely sliced shallot
s a tablespoon or two of marjoram leaves
2 oz - 4 oz of butter
breadcrumbs as a topping
salt and pepper to taste

Layer the ingredients in a buttered pie dish  top with bread crumbs and more dabs of butter and bake in medium oven for an hour.   Enjoy as an accompaniment to main meal or as a supper dish with cheese added to the layers.

The Daily Telegraph  published a potato dish using marjoram and new potatoes baked in parchment with  fresh garlic  here is the recipe

The marjarom I grow on my plot is decorative, a lovely herb to cook with, and is beneficial to our health.  so Three Cheers for Marjoram or is it Organeo?

With Reiki's blessing and light


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Dog Roses & My Healing Garden

RHS Hedge Nursery
My plot is bordered on one side by  a Willow hedge and on the other by Dog Roses. The Dog Roses were planted partly to screen yet another ugly poly-tunnels on my neighbour's plot but mainly for their beautiful flowers and hips.  It will also,when grown fully, provide a wonderful wild life habitat .  It was only bought from RHS hedge nursery at end of March this year and needs time to develop in to a thicket.

I am looking forward to seeing it grow and flourish next year.  I hope to see the beautiful flower which are pink with a white center, and then in autumn harvest the rose hips, leaving some for the birds and other creatures.

Gardening teaches patience and also engenders optimism and imagination. I planted the Dog Roses in March in a heavy rain, knowing that they would take a year or more to develop into the picturesque  hedge of  my imagination.  Nature cannot be hurried, on this cold, damp day with only a glimpse of weak sunlight I am planting the last of the spring bulbs.  The grey days make me feel dreary but I know that through the magic of Spring these bulbs, and the plants I have sown in autumn, will brighten late Spring and Early Summer with beautiful flowers and the Dog Rose hedge will have thickened and rose buds will be forming.

I decided to have a dog rose hedge because they are beautiful plants which have flourished since the stone age but also for healing benefits. Fresh Rose hips have used to make jams, jellies, and syrup in Britain, Norway Sweden, Russia, and many other European Countries they were also used in cooking  as well as preserves.  They can be added to apples to make delicious pies or sauces.  When using fresh rose hips in cooking you need to split the hip in half and  remove the seeds and the tiny hairs of the hip as they can cause irritation internally.  In fact  some children long ago used to make an itching powder from the hairs and use it to annoy friends, families and neighbours.  When using Rose hips in tea you do not have to take out the seeds,  which have an age old reputation of being beneficial to the gallbladder and kidneys.  Rose hips contain a rich source of vitamin C as well vitamins A,E,B.

During the second World War rose hips were gathered as an important source of vitamin C and made into syrup and was especially recommended for babies and children.  Now a days if you want to avoid too much sugar in the diet you could make the Rose hips into a " leather" a puree of rose hips dried in the oven. Here is a recipe

  • Rose Hips are sweetest after the first frost, but you can gather them earlier  from the hedgerows and pop them in the freezer until you have enough for a leather you will need about four cups.
  • Top and tail the rose hips to remove the stalks and blossom end
  • Put them in a pan with just enough water to cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Press the fruit through fine sieve into a bowl..
  • Any fruit  pulp that  does not go through the sieve return to the pan  and add enough water to nearly cover the fruit
  • Do not boil the pulp simmer for 10 minutes or so
  • Repeat the process once  again by  putting any pulp left in the sieve back in the pan  
  • Cover with water and simmer for 10 minutes 
  • Sieve and discard the seeds and skin.
  • Line a baking sheet with grease proof paper, foil or I like to use rice paper - leave an overlap  around the edge to make it easier to remove the leather
  •  Pour on the puree, put into a cool oven and dry for two hours or more, roll up  when cool and cut into strips put in air tight jar.  Pop into the fridge  It should last for two or three months. unless it is eaten up before then!
A wonderful immune boast and quite delicious as well.!

In summer I made ice tea with rose hips and hibiscus flowers, a wonderful ruby red tea. Rose Hips have a sour taste and according to your taste need the edition of orange or lemon slices and perhaps sugar.  Adding some dried Hibiscus flowers add sweetness and a lemony tang.  This Ruby Red beverage is delight full to the eye and taste buds.  In addition you are giving your immune system a boast with these two wonderful herbs. During the long hot summer months this year I took  flasks of  this tea iced to my allotment and it enjoyed with friends and family.

Now it is winter I am drinking a hot infusion of a mix Rose Hips and Hibiscus Flowers with two or three cloves, and some Rooibos tea, which makes a dweliciouswarming drink.  I  sometimes add s two or three thin slices of ginger instead of the cloves and some chunks of fresh or dried apple to the tea.

I have found some interesting  recipes to make rose water, rose vinegar and  a face cleanser as well as rose petal jelly.  I will experiment with these in 2014.  Although I may hesitate  to cut the beautiful rose flowers and pull them to pieces.

With Reiki Blessings