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.
Hawthorn 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.
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!
An icy cover on the rain barrel by the lodge!
Myself and Jack set off for a morning stroll in the woodland gardens.
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.
Dandelion, 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.
Consumption of the bitter leaves will also aid digestion and act as a general laxative, while eating the ground root helps detoxify the liver.
It’s good to remember that the sticky, milky- white latex contained within its stalks can be used externally to kill warts and veruccas.
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.
The tidy up continues as I move the rusted bin over to the back of the old compost heap near the tunnel.
There 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!
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…
Wild Angelica was eaten in past times as a vegetable and used for dyeing cloth.
Traditionally it was used to treat rheumatism, gout and indigestion or to flavour liqueurs.
It 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.
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.
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!
Wild Oregano, or Marjoram, Yarrow, Coltsfoot and, Mullein…still in flower in the Lughnasadh Garden by the way!
I shall post a photo of this over on the Twitter account for Bealtaine Cottage later on…
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!
Books, map and calendar can be accessed through the link at the top of the website.
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.
The map is printed back and front on thick card with beautiful detailed artwork just waiting to be coloured in!
Moon phases for 2019 and 2020 are all included!