July Newsletter 2008

Hello and welcome to July’s newsletter.

Meadowseet (filipendula ulmaria) is the herb that is coming into flower this month. Take time to look and you will see it growing anywhere that retains a bit of moisture, ditches being the most common. The damp meadows close by and are covered in flowering Meadowsweet at the moment, which probably gives rise to one of its common names, Queen or lady of the meadow. It is a perennial herb growing to about three foot or a metre in height. The flowers are frothy and white and have a sweet smell that made it popular as a strewing herb. It was thought to delight the senses and make the heart merry.

Meadowsweet Growing Wild

Salicyclic acid was first isolated from meadowsweet in 1838. This acid was synthesized and went on to become what we now know as aspirin, hence the old Latin name for meadowsweet, Spiraea Ulmaria.

July is a perfect month to collect meadowsweet. The fully opened flowers and leaves are picked and dried gently at temperatures not exceeding 40 degrees centigrade. I would normally hang them upside down in a bedroom away from direct sunlight. Once dry, store in a clean airtight jar. It is one of the best digestive remedies, soothing the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, reducing acidity and easing nausea. I read somewhere once that whilst aspirin is very caustic to the mucous membranes, the whole plant has compounds within it that counter this effect. It helps in reducing fever and relieving the pain in rheumatic muscles and joints. I use it in the winter time as a tea when I have a cold along with things like yarrow, peppermint and thyme. You need about one to two teaspoons of dried herb to a cup of boiling water, left to infuse for fifteen minutes and drunk three times a day.

One of the problems we have on the nursery is weathered hands. The compost tends to dry them out and they get a toughened up look from all the loading and unloading of crates and trays from the vans. What we needed was a bulk buy of hand cream so I went round to see what Nessa might have.

Hemp & Marigold Cream

Nessa is our resident medical herbalist. We first got to know her when she left university and needed a job. Somehow we managed to convince her that the practical experience of growing herbs and then lugging them to shows every weekend would be beneficial to her future. She went on to stay for what I’m sure she looks back on as four very long years before she left to work full time as a medical herbalist. Thankfully, she didn’t go away, though, and runs a consultation practice nearby and has a unit full of herbal preparations and tinctures on the farm close to the nursery. It is Nessa that makes most of the medicinal products that we sell on our web site. It has to be said that she has been a bit slack recently on account of her new arrival, Joe, who is now three months old. Anyway she gave me six pots of Hemp and Marigold cream to try out, which I passed on to everyone on the nursery. The idea was to only moisturize on one hand twice a day so we could get a good comparison by the end of the week. True, it is difficult to rub cream into one hand without using the other but not impossible. I’m very disappointed to report, though everyone got off to a good start, by about the middle of the week most people seemed to be forgetting at least once a day and once the weekend came round and everyone went off to their shows, it had to be abandoned as the creams were left behind. I was just as guilty! I did get five days of moisturizing in though and on Tuesday I challenged Nessa to see if she could tell which hand it was. My palms were still quite leathery. I think it would take nothing short of a miracle to change that but you could tell the difference on the back of my hand which was softer and smoother.

Nessa in her Den

Nessa is now back from her maternity leave and was busy making rose scented bath oil when I last popped round to her den for a cup of tea. As she had some really nice little glass vials, she offered to send a sample of the bath oil out with every order from our site during August. It can be either a plant or medicinal order or both. I plan to wangle a sample beforehand, purely for newsletter research!

Think that’s it for this month. Enjoy it.



This Month’s Recipe:


Summer Herby Salad of Aromatic Herbs, Nasturtium & Borrage Flowers.

What’s in it:

Lettuce, Dandelion leaves, Salad Rocket, Salad Burnett, Garden Cress, Chevil, Sorrel, Fennel, Fenugreek, Parsley, Tarragon, Chives, Lambs Lettuce, Chicory, Nasturtium Flowers, Borrage Flowers.

Dress the mix with salt, traditional balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
Serve immediately