Sorry I haven't been around much lately and not updated the website, unfortunatel life got in the way, in no particular order I've been busy with my business, suffered from a cold which turned into a chest infection, had computer problems and we've been decorating, ohhh and there was the helping hubby take up floorboards to find a leaking pipe which turned out to be one of the most difficult jobs I've ever experienced! Our house was in chaos. All sorted now (although still have decorating to do lol!) but I'm well again, so is the PC and I can get back to working on the site.
Lots of exciting things have been happening whilst I've been busy Jan Greenland has been filmed by a crew for BBC Gardeners World (it won't be screened until 2009 though!) look out for a report on this soon. Cheryl Waller designed a wonderful stand that won a silver medal at Tatton, and was also recently invited to take our stand to RHS Wisley. Jenny Jones took the stand to Herb fest and got a few new members. Linda Harrold and Gwenneth Raybould have joined council as has Sue Minter and her I'd like to point out that there was an error in the latest issue of Herbs (33.3) Sue will not be our new President for 2008/09 we have someone else for that post and something else in mind entirely for Sue, further announcements at the September AGM!
Glad that you are back, missed you recently. Everyone seems to have been busy this past few weeks. I've been busy in the kitchen especially when visited by daughter, son-in-law and 18 month old grandson. Have made White Currant Jelly, Lavender Vinegar and now hope to get round to making some Apple Jelly flavoured with Pineapple mint. Was picking my lavender for sweet bags but the wretched rain has rather spoilt that but managed to get some off before the monsoon. Still fighting the ****slugs. The mulch mats didn't work with the courgettes so I planted the last two plants in my biggest pots, stood them on bricks in large plastic trays and filled the trays with water to just below the top of the bricks. So far so fine, but as my husband says 'If they get eaten now you prove that slugs can swim'
Have done very little this last week as we have been clearing over 30 years detritis out of the loft in preparation for better loft insulation. We are both shattered. Absolutely amazing what you collect over the years, another trip to the recycling centre next week then that will be it. Between the showers at least we have a fair number of butterflies. Besides whites, we have lots of Gatekeepers, several Brimstones and the odd peacock but not a good year. Perhaps September will be drier, I do hope so!
Re: welcome back Debs
August 22 2008, 10:21 AM
Glad to see you back, Debs!
I've been delivering coping with bereavement workshops in Yorkshire over the past week or so which is why I haven't really been online. I did open the laptop case once in the caravan, but not for long!
Being away didn't mean I couldn't think about herbs alongside everything else. I managed to find a few dry moments to pick some yarrow and a beautiful clump of red clover (with the farmer's permission)and a bunch of heather from the moors as I want to try out Juliette de Bairacli's heather tonic.
I also started reading Matthew Wood's latest book, An Earthwise Herbal, which looks to be as wonderful as all his others. One thing I really liked is that he has written it specifically for people to learn about herbs so they can treat themselves and their families.
Tonight I'm off to the farm to prepare for my last open air herb workshop of the year (the October one will be about working with wood). We've not been able to do any mowing or weeding down there because of illness and the weather, so I dread to think how much of a wilderness will have developed!
I've also taken some time recently to put together a herbal spreadsheet to quantify just what I've produced this year. Once I've made some lemon balm oil and hawthorn brandy, I'll put up some statistics - if only to show what can be achieved in spare time during a horrendously wet year!
Re: welcome back Debs
September 2 2008, 12:35 PM
Thanks Jane & Sarah, nice to be missed I'm getting back into the swing of things but life keeps throwing those curve balls, but with the help of my friends I'm coping. I haven't had much chance to do herbal things lately, not had the energy. But now things are slowly getting back to normal I'm determined to get out and pick as many elderberries and blackberries as possible for winemaking and for making remedies and some jam to methinks.
The garden has become a little over grown due to rain and not being able to get anything done, so this weekend I'll try and sort it out and harvest some of the herbs for drying. I have lots of lemon verbena, just made a cup of lemon verbena tea from a handful I picked from outside the back door, what a wonderful scent, a real pick me up!
Sarah would you recommend Earthwise Herbal? I've held back on buying any of Matthew's books as I feel they may have too much of an american slant. I bought a book on coping with the moanapause (that was a deliberate spelling error in case anyone wonders) and its by an american author and they recommend USA herbs that are not so easy to get from over here as well as listing food products to add to the diet that once again can only be got in the USA, so as I said I'm cautious. Hopefully I'll be posting more, I need to catch up with the site updates, but also need to sort out things here at home and in my business so everyone bare with me, abnormal service will resume soon
American vs UK Herb Books
September 2 2008, 1:41 PM
I love all Matthew Woods books because of his wide knowledge and herbal wisdom. He brings his practice to life with anecdotes about real people and real experiences. His Herbal Wisdom book is a classic and I think the Earthwise Herbal is going to be the same. His third one could be a bit hardgoing for beginners, but is fantastic for anyone who wants to understand a European/Western system of energetics who isn't drawn to either chinese or Ayeuvedic energetics.
There is a real difference between modern UK and US written herb books. (These are sweeping generalisations I am about to make, so feel free to disagree with me!) I think, because UK herbalists are mostly scientifically trained and wish to appeal to the medical establishment, their books are mainly factual without any of the personal connection with herbs which you get from the US writers.
Non Shaw/Chris Hedley and Julie Brueton-Seal are probably the exceptions to this as they do convey a sense of their relationships with the herbs. If you can get hold of some of Chris Hedley's monographs on particular herbs (I googled some from the Paul Bergner site) he shows a deep energetic understanding of herbs enhanced by a lifetime of stories about the people he has treated.
I can give two examples of books which might illustrate what I mean. I have Andrew Chevalier's little book on menapause. It is very accessible at £5, it gives clear advice on what to use for what condition, but that's it. Susan Weed's new revised book on the menapause is a completely different ballgame. Yes she rants, yes she has strange ideas you might think are totally impractical but she covers virtually everything any woman could ever experience, offers advice and support both herbal and emotional which is sensible, practical, down to earth and easy to follow. You know she's been there, knows what she's talking about and has survived.
The US writers and Chris Hedley take the view, "I love herbs, they are our birthright and I want you to share my knowledge and experiences so you can learn and do things for yourself."
Some of our UK medical herbalists (and I've had them admit this to me!) take the view "I love herbs and I will share with you some of my knowledge, but I don't want you to know too much, because then you won't come and consult me and I'll lose my livelihood."
With the global herbal communities now being developed via the internet, I am hopeful some new, dynamic UK herbalists will start publishing so we can have a British voice of experiences from the heart to stand alongside our US cousins.
Re: American vs UK Herb Books
September 6 2008, 6:42 PM
Hi Debs and everyone,
I have no problem with American scientific herb writers, many of whom are brilliant, James Duke, John Riddle, Daniel Moerman and Judith Sumner inter al, but there are a lot of loonies out there whose writing has to be treated with considerable caution. I think this is partly down to the fact that Americans, increasingly reared on the doctrine of “creationism” are ready to believe anything provided it is not based on scientific fact. Paradoxically, the early settlers literally preferred to die than adopt the plant usage of the “heathen tribes” and carried a lot of European herbs to the States with them to use instead. However, I am unsure of the extent to which this prejudice has lasted to the present day. Then of course, the United States is a vast area with an infinite number of isolated communities so there is plenty of scope for crackpot doctrines to evolve. I was horrified to see space being given to one of these on a Yale web site the other day. Definitely wouldn’t have been allowed in my time even if we had been blessed with web sites back then!
If anyone wants to use native American plants, there shouldn’t be too much trouble getting hold of them, though I admit to having trouble with some; Unicorns, Blue cohosh and Skunk cabbage for instance continue to defeat me, I think they have very specific environmental requirements with which I haven’t yet come to terms. Obviously though the trendy peat-free ideas of the politically correct would blight their efforts from the start. Those interested in what will grow in the UK need look no further than the Society’s own garden which has a good selection of North American plants. Then again many herbalists get ready-prepared tinctures of American herbs from the legendary Christopher family
Debs refers to the difficulties in obtaining American food products over here, to which we must all utter a great sigh of relief. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I bought everything I could find on the subject on Amazon’s second hand list. Virtually every recipe in every book, all American, required something out of packet to make an end-product that was outstandingly disgusting. That said, having lived and worked there, I can assure you that excellent gourmet food does exist, though you may have to ferret around in immigrant communities where true-born Americans fear to tread in order to find it.
Sarah mentions “anyone who wants to understand a European/Western system of energetics who isn't drawn to either chinese or Ayeuvedic energetics”. Very timely. Have you seen the latest “New Scientist” which has a piece on the lethal heavy metals contained in some Ayurvedic medicines? Since this scandal has been floating around the media for at least the last ten years, I am surprised the Ayurvedic practitioners seem to have made so little effort to clean up their act.
As for “loving herbs” I do get a frisson of uneasiness when I hear the expression used. It seems to be a sort of indiscriminating blanket term that hasn’t been thought through properly. Removed from reality, it comes over as redolent of hippydom and flower power (true, it was a very happy period in my own life) and is thus inappropriate when used by a practitioner; it suggests a subjective relation to the material rather than dealing with its employment objectively. I guess if one goes along with the definition of a herb that “it is a plant useful or for the delight of mankind”, then one can love all herbs because the rest, by the same definition are weeds that can be exterminated with a clear conscience. But when we come down to it, defining what is a lovable herb and what is a weed is always going to be subjective. I have just been reading in Fernie (where else?!) about a gardener who was hanged for allowing Belladonna to remain unmolested in a garden in his charge, Parks departments can be sued for failing in their “duty of care” if some idiot rolls around in the Rue, and war is waged on the handsome and architectural Giant Hogweed. I like these plants for their aesthetic and practical values, but I am clearly not a “herb lover” because I can’t stand stinging nettles and brambles, notwithstanding that caterpillars enjoy them and one can make nettle soup/ dye etc and blackberry jam.
Nice that Juliette de Bairacli has become fashionable again, a New Forest background is clearly ideal for putting one in touch with the environment and she had the advantage of a whole raft international connections too. Incidentally didn’t Sarah Garland, another herb writer, come from the Forest as well? Again, Sybil Leeke built up a substantial reputation in New York I believe, and is actually cited in one of Riddle's papers. Whether or not she was a complete fraud or only a partial one, she started the movement which has culminated in a Forest village today being wholly given over to "Witches olde antique shoppes" and "witches' tea roomes". Even as I write, my television is sitting on a chest I bought from her junk shop half a century ago. Definitely a prime subject for a biography should anyone care to write it.
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