Tag: glamorganshire canal nature reserve

Autumn herb walks and delicious autumn recipes

Forest Farm herb walk

At the Forest farm herb walk we were lucky with the weather but unfortunately not so lucky with the plants. We did manage to see a lot of blood cleanser herbs, like dandelion, burdock, yellow dock, red clover and nettle.

Forest Farm herb walk
Forest Farm herb walk

The herbal tea tasting went down well, with elderflower and honey the firm favourite, and the hawthorn and apple fruit leather was preferred to the carrot cake!

 

Unfortunately a slight mix up with the times of the walk meant that several people missed out, but another Forest Farm herb walk is planned for Spring 2014.

 

 

 

Taff trail October herb walk

This herb walk was slightly sad as it was the last one until April next year, but it made up for it by being prolific in herbs.

Hedgerow jelly
Hedgerow jelly

 

As well as gathering blackberries and rowanberries for hedgerow jelly and fruit leather, we gathered hawthorn berries for hawthorn brandy.

 

There was some new growth of mugwort along the river Taff which we gathered to use as herbal tea. Not one to use before bed however as traditional it was used for prophetic dreams.

 

We also gathered comfrey leaves to be made into comfrey ointment for sprains, as well plantain for wound healing.

 

Comfrey leaves
Comfrey leaves

I learnt about the joy of popping Himalayan balsam seeds, and how delicious they are!

The pulp in fruit leather was a big hit, as was the hawthorn brandy we sampled (for educational purposes obviously!).

 

I am already looking forward to the herb walks next year as we look at the spring greens and using herbs for nutrition as well as medicines.

For some autumn recipes to try yourself, see my free download section.

 

King Arthur, long walks and herb gathering

Tintagel castle
Tintagel castle

In the last couple of weeks I have been enjoying the last of summer on long walks with my puppy (and husband).

On our holiday in Cornwall we visited several lovely dog friendly beaches. We also visited Tintagel castle which was a first for me even though I’ve been to Tintagel many times before.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

I was surprised to find some of my favourite herbs growing on the cliff tops, which made me wonder if they were the same plants that were used by King Arthur!

Whitchurch Farmers' market stall
Whitchurch Farmers’ market stall

When I arrived home from my holiday I was excited to have a stall at the Whitchurch farmers’ market with Andrea and Karen from The Whitchurch Clinic. We spent a slightly chilly morning talking to people about all things health related, giving out herbal tea samples and free goodie bags. We also managed to buy some fantastic food.

We are hoping that we will be able to have a guest stall at some of the other farmers’ markets around Cardiff.

Gathering hawthorn berries
Gathering hawthorn berries

My recent forays into foraging have been of mixed success, at Cosmeston lakes I found a vast amount of rose hips, which are a fantastic source

of vitamin C, that will make a wonderful rose hip syrup ready for the winter cold and flu season. While foraging for hawthorn berries in a field near Radyr however, I was stung by bees! (My puppy was too). So it was herbal antihistamines to the rescue and a plantain poultice to reduce the swelling (on me at least, my puppy was not so happy about it).

I am looking forward to the Forest Farm herb walk on Saturday, hopefully the showers will only be light (if at all)!

Medicinal plants at the Glamorganshire Canal Nature Reserve

Woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)
Woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

After moving to Whitchurch a few years ago I was thrilled to find a nature reserve on my doorstep, and one with such diverse plant life was the icing on the cake. As a herbalist I am constantly looking at plants, (even while stopped in traffic) and the reserve has so many rare and wonderful specimens.

Last year I saw Solanum dulcamara (Woody nightshade) for the first time in the reserve and also the first time anywhere. The particularly wet summer saw an increase of this poisonous plant.

This year the warmer weather has shown some more wonderful specimens, Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet) which was rarely seen last year is now out in abundance. This wonderful herb was used as the base of aspirin along with willow bark, and is used today in modern herbal medicine as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis and rheumatism.

It’s not only the rare plants that interest me, the cleavers and plantain have all been prolific and all still hold an important place in treating skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

A hugely under rated plant is the humble nettle, still used in herbal medicine today for its high mineral content and as an anti histamine, but it has so many other uses.

In the First World War nettles were used to make military uniforms, and they are also wonderful in soups and sauces (if picked early). In 1693 it was recorded that nettle was used to treat kidney stones, and today research shows that nettle has a diuretic effect.

If you are interested in learning more about the herbs in the reserve and their medicinal and historical uses, come along to the herb walk on 28th September, 2pm til 4pm.