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Starting a New Year with herbs

January 4 2011 at 10:11 AM
Sarah Head 
from IP address

Happy New Year to everyone!

I hope your holiday period was suitably enjoyable and festive.

When winter is at its keenest it may feel really difficult to connect with living plants or remember the colour and warmth of the previous summer. I've been clearing out my shelves and wrote about it as my first blog post of the yearhttp://kitchenherbwife.blogspot.com/2011/01/clearing-decks.html

Yesterday I was making salves for various people. Last year the calendula oil was the deepest orange it has ever been and the salves were correspondingly deep gold after mixing with either solomon's seal and meadowsweet (for RSI), chickweed (for statin induced eczema)and horsechestnut oil (for vein health). Tonight I may make some more as I hate to be without it.

I've also been setting my apprentices their first tasks of the year. They're going to be looking at tree barks and making their own remedies. Another task is to choose a herbal ally for the year and get to know it more closely. This is a really exciting project as it doesn't matter how much you think you know about a herb and its properties, there is always more to learn.

I've chosen violet (viola odorata) as it's a plant I've been meaning to use more for several years. It was fascinating to think about the provenance of each of my violet patches last night and wonder how soon I can make myself some fresh tea from their leaves. I'm hoping the leaves I dried last year haven't been too badly damaged by the cold as they are still in my garden summerhouse in a paperbag along with several other dried herbs.

Now I need to plan for Saturday's workshop - we're going to be playing with spices, ginger, fennel, angelica and chillies whilst considering how herbs keep us warm during cold weather.

What herbs are you working with at the moment and are there any you are expecting to pay particular attention to over the coming year?

[Edited to make broken link work]

This message has been edited by DebsCook from IP address on Jan 6, 2011 1:30 PM

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Debs Cook

Re: Starting a New Year with herbs

January 6 2011, 12:50 PM 

Hi Sarah

Happy New Year! Loved reading your recent blog posts, I think with the things we've been all blogging about about over the past few months my new herbal ally is going to be rosemary, she was there when I needed her most over the past few months and I find that she creeps up a lot in things I make, but she's a herb a pay very little concious attention to.

During 2011 I'm embarking on a new project for me, for a while now I've found myself deeply interested in old herb books, but during recent months I've uncovered a yearning in myself to want to put flesh on the bones of the dusty tomes in my book collection and as a result I've started to research and write about old remedies and the people who wrote the books. Learning who these people were and discovering what they did in the herbal world beyond writing the books is fascinating. I've blogged about a couple of recent acquisitions to my little herb library including Mrs Lavender's Herbal Bookhttp://herbal-haven.co.uk/blog/2010/12/mrs-lavenders-herbal-book/ and with Kevin Brown's help a post about Composition Powdershttp://herbal-haven.co.uk/blog/2010/12/composition-powder-recipes/ I'm finding the historical aspect of herbs especially the Victorian Era most interesting so this year that will be my focus.

I'm also going to be making some changes to my herb garden, time to change things around, remove some plants to make way for others and relocate the greenhouse so I can create a new section to my garden. I'm already looking forward to the Spring when I can get started, although I have been putting ideas on paper and trawling the herb plant and seed catalogues. Be good to hear what everyone else is doing, it's so quiet at the moment!


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