May Bowl

Tomorrow is May Day or Beltane and a wonderful time to celebrate fertility, growth and development.

My balcony moon garden is growing beautifully and today was the day to harvest a few flowering tops of a lovely scented herb, which now grows there – Galium odoratum. It is the plant with frothy white flowers, growing up the railings at the back left of the photo. It usually grows in woodland and is a native perennial. Sweet Woodruff is a close relative of Cleavers (Galium aparine) and can easily be mistaken for it. No great harm in that confusion if making May Bowl, both are edible and useful. Cleavers is far more common in Amsterdam. I do find Sweet Woodruff in park Frankendael but it is not very widespread so that is the reason for buying this plant from the local garden centre. Other herbs could be used in place of Sweet Woodruff but I think that this is the best – it simply smells of verdant spring!


Here’s the May Bowl recipe I am using Galium odoratum for. It is basically a cold 24 hour herbal wine infusion and it tastes delicious. For more recipes and information about May Day country lore, please see this post.

May Bowl
Woodruff (Gallium odoratum) – one handful per bottle of wine, finely chopped.
Add to white wine.
As a pinch of lemon rind if you have any to hand.
Leave with lid/cork on for 24 hours at room temperature, to allow the herb time to infuse in the bottle.
Drink with friends for a merry May Day – tomorrow!


Frank suggested this wine, made from the Grillo grape because it is “neutral with the potential to become fragrant”. I’ll take his word for it and it does smell and taste great!

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