Magical Wild Herbs and Other Things

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Hawthorn is one of the sacred Ogham trees of Ireland. It goes by the name Huath in Irish,  being the tree that symbolises Bealtaine, the merry month of May! This is also a wonderful, magical herb of abundant medicine. Hawthorn, or whitethorn, is easily identifiable during this time as her creamy blossoms brighten hedgerows, stone walls, fields and sacred sites.

IMG_0087Hawthorn is also known as the fairy tree for it is believed, especially a solo tree in a field, that it is a place that fairies would stop to rest (or party!) as they traversed across the land.

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There was a frost this morning, as you can see from the roof of the cottage. Insulation in the loft keeps the frost on the roof. You can always tell a poorly insulated home from the state of the roof on frosty mornings!

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An icy cover on the rain barrel by the lodge!

IMG_0165Myself and Jack set off for a morning stroll in the woodland gardens.

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I was reminded of the many herbs growing freely at Bealtaine Cottage and all along the roadsides here in the west of Ireland, as I walked along the woodland paths.

IMG_0169Dandelion, another exceptional wild herb growing abundantly here, with Its young leaves that can be used to make a tea with potassium-saving diuretic properties, so very useful for treating people suffering from high blood pressure.

IMG_0170Consumption of the bitter leaves will also aid digestion and act as a general laxative, while eating the ground root helps detoxify the liver.

IMG_0172It’s good to remember that the sticky, milky- white latex contained within its stalks can be used externally to kill warts and veruccas.

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The fire pit near the cottage has lots of precious wood ash to be spread out into the gardens. I continue to burn some of the dried blackcurrant stems from last year.

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The tidy up continues as I move the rusted bin over to the back of the old compost heap near the tunnel.

IMG_0175There are many wild and naturalised herbs growing in this semi-wild area, such as Comfrey, Nettle and Wild Garlic. Sweet Bay is planted to the right of the path in this picture. The Potager Bed is filled with many other cultivated herbs, growing happily alongside their wild cousins!

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Growing here at Bealtaine Cottage, in damp, grassy places, from July to September, this majestic, sweet- scented perennial, Wild Angelica, is known as Gallfheabhrán in Irish. Here it is, covered in frost this morning…

IMG_0178Wild Angelica was eaten in past times as a vegetable and used for dyeing cloth.

IMG_0182Traditionally it was used to treat rheumatism, gout and indigestion or to flavour liqueurs.

IMG_0184It really is amazing the vast quantities of wild herbs that are growing all around us. We have forgotten many of them and know very little of the edibility and uses of many of the recognisable plants. You can see some of the Chives spilling out from one of the Potager beds here by the Sedum.

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The colour wash across the woodland gardens continues this morning, the second day of Samhain as the progression of winter moves across the land. Flat Parsley is visible to the front of the bed! I moved all the Nasturtiums this morning from near the old Hen House, as the great tidy-up continues.

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Burdock, Nettle and Meadowsweet all grow with wild abandon here at Bealtaine Cottage. Meadowsweet contains essential oils, flavonoids and tannins. It is renowned for its anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, analgesic, and relaxant qualities. Just walking among it during the heady days of summer induces all of the above!

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Wild Oregano, or Marjoram, Yarrow, Coltsfoot and, Mullein…still in flower in the Lughnasadh Garden by the way!

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I shall post a photo of this over on the Twitter account for Bealtaine Cottage later on…

Bealtaine Cottage Goddess Permaculture Gardens

@PermaGoddess

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Plantain, Herb Robert and Feverfew can be added to the extensive list…I am now imagining a Bealtaine Book of Herbs and their uses, as I realise what a Herb Sanctuary this little acreage has blossomed into!

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Books, map and calendar can be accessed through the link at the top of the website.

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The calendar is packed with 46 photographs! The months of the year are all in Irish and there is room enough to write notes and appointments daily.

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The map is printed back and front on thick card with beautiful detailed artwork just waiting to be coloured in!

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Moon phases for 2019 and 2020 are all included!

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14 years of Goddess Permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage, West of Ireland...drop in, power up! Colette O'Neill is a writer, photographer and teacher who has devoted the past 14 years to turning 3 acres of derelict land into a woodland sanctuary for all life, planting over 1,100 trees in the process.

14 thoughts on “Magical Wild Herbs and Other Things

  1. Sorry for being late with this, but I am sending kind wishes for your darling Sammy Bear. Just knowing what a loving fur mother you are, there’s no doubt getting wonderful treatment. It’s difficult to see our little ones unwell, so take good care of yourself, too. Thank you for sharing all your selves with the rest of us. Blessings to you all, including your dear Jack,Kathy DavenportJust outside St. Louis, Missouri, US

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Have you ever considered turning that lovely map into a dish towel, Colette? The colours of your woodlands just glow. Here (Ontario, Canada) most of our leaves have fallen, but the tamaracks (larches) are the most glorious gold when the sun shines through them.

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  3. I agree with all the above regarding a Bealtaine Book of Herbs. Most of those you mentioned in the blog grow wild around here also. Love all the color in and around your beautiful sanctuary. And I’m getting decorating ideas from your cottage. We have three dogs and six cats so the couches need to be covered with something easy to wash. I visit the charity shops often, so I’m going to be on the look out for some plaid blankets. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  4. I would love to see you put together a book on your herbs at Beltaine and their connection to Celtic herbs and spices and respective uses! Wild, Irish plants foraged for food and the season and terrain in which found would also be an interesting topic. Brianne (oasis1085@bellsouth.net)

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  5. LOVING all the wonderful fall colors in your woodlands!!!! every picture had a different plant or tree turning beautiful oranges and burgandy and mustard colors. thank you so much for sharing your life, it really and truly is appreciated and does my heart and soul so much good…..blessings on the new year!

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  6. Such lovely visions upon your morning walk. A healing remembrance of all that grows in the garden. Bealtaine Book of Herbs sounds wonderful. Thank you so much. Love and blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Looking forward to using my calendar next year. I’ll hang it up under my old one till the first of Jan.
    I’m coloring my second copy of the map. How fun is that! Blessings on ye, Colette. And Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

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