Tag: herb walk

Rediscovering British herbs with Native Awareness

11203591_10153299665834282_3942814190489003464_oA few years ago I decided to go on a Native Awareness course, native skills one, which is an introduction to bushcraft skills and the skills of native peoples’. Learning those native skills really got me thinking about how medicinal plants are used by native people across the world as well as our ancestors in Britain.

At the time my knowledge of British medicinal plants was limited and I suddenly saw that for the shame it was. I was a herbalist living and practising in Britain but the number of British plants I was prescribing could be counted on one hand. It was also obvious that my plant ID skills could also do with updating, especially poisonous plants.

That realisation sent me on a bit of a journey of personal study, and working with other herbalists who use a lot more British plants, expanding my knowledge and skills.

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When James (the founder of Native Awareness) asked me if I would be interested in teaching a medicinal plants course with him, I was excited but also very nervous. James has a vast knowledge of plants himself and I was unsure what I could bring to such a course.

 

 

After months of planning we taught the first medicinal plants course in 2014, and it involved lots of experimenting. Neither of us had dried medicinal plants using fire before, and the results were interesting! But it forced me to look at alternative ways to make medicines like infused oils, balms, and poultices.

10314020_10152426359889282_4783032923788498560_nI couldn’t help feeling a deep connection with the medicine people across the world who must have had (and still do have) these problems. How breaking a plant down with a stone makes a very different poultice to one done in a food processor.

I was thrilled to be asked back to teach again in 2015, and I was raring to go with new ideas. The fire drying was improved and the infused oil was the strongest I’ve ever seen made. I also introduced a few new topics to the medicinal plant ID, wild crafting, and medicine making; poisonous plants and medicinal mushrooms.

11160059_10153299700634282_7411604696093964325_oYear on year as my knowledge and skills grow I add new things into my workshops. So no two courses are ever the same, this also stops me from becoming bored!

I also learn a great deal from the people on the courses, everyone has a story to tell about how they have used a plant, or how their granny always used to swear by nettle tea.

This year I will be back teaching with Native Awareness again, from 29th April to 1st May, Ravenshill Wood, Worcestershire. For more information or to book, please contact James at Native Awareness.

Click here for more great photos from the medicinal plants courses.

 

Upcoming workshops, herb walks and herbal medicine talks – Feb – Aug 14

January is always a time for reflection for me and I have been planning furiously for the coming year, I love planning. I am one of those people who have a list saying “write list”. So here is my plan for all things herbal in the year ahead to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.

 

February

Winter remedy15th February – 10.30am – 3pm – Winter Remedies Workshop

I am running a winter remedies workshop at The Whitchurch Clinic. A light vegetarian lunch is included.

We will be discussing how to increase immunity naturally and the myths of Echinacea. We will also be making cough syrups and throat sweets. The course costs £45, minimum of two people required.

 

March

Rose hips (Rosa canina)
Rose hips (Rosa canina)

Wednesday 19th March – 7pm – 8pm – Talk at The Whitchurch Clinic, Whitchurch, Cardiff. “Herbal Medicine – Nature’s pharmacy”

I will be talking about herbal medicine, its history in Wales and how it is now used around the world alongside orthodox medicine. £2 entry. Free herbal tea and homemade cake.

 

 

April

Saturday 5th April – 10.30am until 3pm – Natural cream making workshop

I am running a herbal cream making workshop at The Whitchurch Clinic. A light vegetarian lunch is included.

Greenwyse hand creams
Greenwyse hand creams

We will be looking at how herbal creams are made and making individual creams to take home. The course costs £45, minimum of three people required.

 

First herb walk of the season on Sunday 6th April, meeting at the Melingriffith water pump,Ty-Mawr Road, Whitchurch at 2pm. The walk is free and lasts approximately an hour.

 

May

NA2nd – 5th May – Medicinal plants weekend, Ravenshill woods, Worcestershire, with Native Awareness (http://www.nativeawareness.co.uk/courses/medicinal-plants/) Book through Native Awareness.

 

Sunday 11th May – Free Taff trail herb walk, 2pm – 3pm (meeting place to be announced).

 

Saturday 17th  May – 10.30am – 3pm – Summer remedies workshop

I am running a summer remedies workshop at The Whitchurch Clinic. A light vegetarian lunch is included.

We will be looking at hay fever remedies, natural first aid for sun stroke, sun burn, bites and stings, etc. We will make an insect bite cream and a natural after sun lotion. The course costs £45, minimum of two people required.

 

June

Feverfew
Feverfew

Sunday 8th June – Free Taff trail herb walk, 2pm – 3pm (meeting place to be announced).

Wed 25th June – 7pm – 8pm – Talk at The Whitchurch Clinic, Whitchurch, Cardiff.

“Herbal Medicine – Nature’s pharmacy”

I will be talking about herbal medicine, its history in Wales and how it is now used around the world alongside orthodox medicine. £2 entry. Free herbal tea and homemade cake.

 

Friday 27th June – Bute park evening herb walk (meet outside the Pettigrew tea rooms by the gate to ButePark, opposite the water bus stop) 6pm – 7pm. £2 per person.

 

July

Sunday 6th July – Free Taff trail herb walk, 2pm – 3pm (meeting place to be announced).

 

Natural cosmeticsSaturday 26th July – Summer remedies workshop

I am running a summer remedies workshop at The Whitchurch Clinic. A light vegetarian lunch is included.

We will be looking at hay fever remedies, natural first aid for sun stroke, sun burn, bites and stings, etc. We will make an insect bite cream and a natural after sun lotion. The course costs £45, minimum of two people required.

 

August

Sunday 10th August – Free Taff trail herb walk, 2pm – 3pm (meeting place to be announced).

 

Drying St John's wort
Drying St John’s wort

Saturday 16th August – 10.30am – 3pm – Herb harvesting and preserving

I am running a herb harvesting and preserving workshop at The Whitchurch Clinic. A light vegetarian lunch is included.

We will be learning different harvesting, drying and preserving techniques for herbs. We will make herb infused oils, vinegars, teas, and more. The course costs £45, minimum of three people required.

 

September

Sunday 7th September – Free Taff trail herb walk, 2pm – 3pm (meeting place to be announced).

 

Astragalus-Membranaceus-Root-ExtractsIntroduction to herbal medicine 4 week course begins. More details to follow.

 

If you would like more information about any of these courses, workshops or talks please get in touch.

To book on to any of the workshops a £10 deposit is required to secure your place, with the balance payable on the day of the workshop. Deposits can be paid via paypal (please send me an email and I will send you a payment request.)

 

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)!

The September Taff trail Herb Walk

On Sunday 1st September I set out for the monthly herb walk on a lovely warm but breezy afternoon. The Taff trail was busy with cyclists enjoying the good weather but luckily the route I had chosen was quieter.

 

Melingriffith Water pump
Melingriffith Water pump

At 2pm, alongside the Melingriffith water pump, I met up with three lovely ladies from Radyr who were keen to know more about the local medicinal plants and how they could make use of them.

 

There were lots of different species that we talked about during the walk but one of my favourites was mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris), which has a long historical use as a wound healer and treatment for bruises. It’s also been used traditionally to help women in labour.

 

Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris)
Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris)

During the herb walk I suggested plants that would be useful in an infused oil to use to treat bruises, as many of the plants we saw had that medicinal effect. The infused oil would have contained, St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris), daisy (Bellis perennis), nettle (Urtica dioica), and plantain (Plantago lanceolata).

 

Another favourite of mine and an easily identified plant is burdock (Arctium lappa), it’s used in modern herbal medicine to stimulate bile flow and improve digestion, but it has a long use in the traditional drink dandelion and burdock.

 

Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum)
Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum)

There was one plant that I was particularly keen to identify, as it was not one I was familiar with. After some research I found that it was Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum), which is a cultivated variety of St John’s wort. It has slightly different medicinal properties to St John’s wort, as its leaves are more antiseptic and it has a diurectic effect.

The next herb walk is on 28th September through Forest Farm nature reserve, Whitchurch, Cardiff, 2pm til 4pm.