This herb sauce was the result of today’s rainy forage in Frankendael park.
After a quick chat with the park warden who was chopping up a massive fallen tree, Livvy and I collected a little each of Ground elder (Aegopodium podograria), Wild garlic (Galium ursinum), Wild geranium (Geranium sp), Ground ivy (Glechoma hederaceae) and White deadnettle (Lamium alba).
I took those herbs (a small handful in all), chopped them, sweated them down in a pan over low heat, with a splash of water for 10 minutes, then added a little blue goats cheese and a desertspoon of sour cream. I them blended it all to a smooth sauce with a hand blender.
The result was very tasty indeed and the balcony harvest Pansies (Viola sp) also went down a treat!
On a less tasty notes: Here is patch of poisonous Lily of the Valley, growing in the park. Just notice how similar the leaves are to those of Wild garlic. The easiest way to distinguish them (apart from the flowers) is that Wild garlic smells very strongly of garlic and Lily of the Valley doesn’t.
About 8 weeks ago I strained my foot, lugging a heavy suitcase upstairs, in worn out shoes. Clearly not a good idea as I’ve been annoyed by a sore foot since then. I gave in and headed for the doctor on Friday, suspecting something worse than a strain. Thankfully nothing else seems to be wrong, apparently just more time is needed and some pain killing anti-inflammatories to settle things down. Fed up with limping and not being able to do yoga, I slicked two of the pills. After a 12 hour psychedelic sleep and then a day feeling like a space cadet, it seems I’m allergic to the tablets. So back to the herbs and surprise surprise, they are working a treat and my brain feels clear again.
Here’s what I made to speed the healing and ease the inflammation (if you dislike the idea of lard, use ghee or a quality vegetable oil – which you can later thicken with beeswax). This healing lard based ointment feels silky smooth, cooling, calming and takes the pain away.
1 block of lard (250g)
9 medium Comfrey leaves (Symphytum uplandicum x)
9 Elder leaves (Sambucus nigra)
Handful Ground Ivy stems (leaves, flowers and all) (Glechoma hederacea)
3 Wormwood leaves (Artemisia absinthum)
3 Ribwort leaves (Plantago lanceolata)
1. Chop all the fresh herbs and place in a heavy based saucepan along with the lard.
2. Heat over the lowest possible flame to melt the lard and then to simmer it for approximately 40 minutes (stay with it and stir every minute or so, obviously the lard is highly flammable if left unattended).
3. After 40 minutes the herbs should be just turning slightly crispy, as all the moisture leaves them. This is a good time to stop, turn off the heat, move the pan from the stove and allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes.
4. Strain the herbs from the infused lard by carefully pouring through a muslin/super clean tea towel and sieve.
5. Add the spent herbs to the compost bin and pour the infused lard into a sterile container or two.
6. I keep this ointment in a fridge and use it freely on sprains, strains and skin irritations that benefit from cooling.
Garlic Mustard seems to be everywhere at the moment, and Stinging Nettle and Ground Ivy! I didn’t take very many photos today but here is a pavement crack full of minty, flowering Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacae):
I picked a small handful to make tea, from a lovely clean woodland edge.
And here is a very windy photo of Cleavers (Gallium aparine), which is also everywhere I look at present, on the ground at least. Soon it will start to scale up shrubs and wire fences, becoming very visible to everyone.
I didn’t take any Nettle photos today – was to busy picking them. Plenty of them are ready for making infusions, pasta and whatever else you fancy.
Here above is Burdock (Artica lappa, NL: Klit). An extremely useful herb. Well worth learning what you can do with it. I’m not one for harvesting roots in the city but all parts of the plant are useful to some degree. Here’s a useful Burdock link.
And lastly, Dock (Rumex sp). Where I come from, everyone knows that rubbing Dock on a Nettle sting, takes the firey pain away. But there are far more users for this edible plant. At this time of year, and if you don’t suffer from Gout, Rheumatism or other uric acid related ailments, you may fancy cooking a dock leaf or three as a sour tasting vegetable. It contains oxalic acid, as in sorrel and rhubarb. So it tastes sour and shouldn’t be consumed too often.
I visited Delft today and was pleased to notice just the same useful “weeds”there that I am used to finding here in Amsterdam.
This tree planter arrangement caught my eye. It uses wire mesh and small additional lips pod garden wire, to hold pot plants against a street tree. I’m not sure how the mesh was originally attached to the tree but it now seems to cut into the bark in places which is not at all healthy for the tree. The planted hybrid Primroses could easily be substituted for non hybrid varieties of numerous herbs.
And here is one of my herbal plant pots. This is a healthy and useful Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), growing beside my front door.
I met the gardener who looks after Park Frankendael today. He’s happy with our little Elder babies and suggested another location for additional planting. He also taught me about the the Primrose species which live in the park. I’ll order some seed of those species soon and will be bringing on Primrose and Violet plants to add to the park at suitable locations.
One of the Elder babies is in the middle of this photo.
The Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum x) plants are looking great today.
As is Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea), in flower in some situations.
Today is the Spring Equinox but it doesn’t feel much like it to me. The weather is very cold here still, too cold to plant out seeds. Yet the foliage of some winter hardy plants such as this Glechoma hederaceae (Ground ivy) are beginning to change and proliferate, in reaction to the lengthening days.
Ground Ivy is a useful evergreen herb from the mint family.
Here it is creeping throughout the now bare undergrowth of Park Frankendael hedgerow.
Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacae) today, near the bus shelter on the corner of the park, where I start my working day. I stepped into the waste land there, to look for early signs of Mugwort. Too early for that but this Ground ivy stood out due to it’s large leaves. It looks almost like the first leaves of Garlic mustard and that is always a welcome sight. Ground ivy has been used a lot over the years. It is an interesting aromatic evergreen Labiate which has varied uses. I like it as an occasional salad leaf or chopped up in a soup or stew. It also makes a tea that can refresh winter sinuses.
Today a damp walk around and lots of edibles still easily harvested in Amsterdam.
The first is a treepit loaded with Nasturtium and Calendula.
Next, a healthy looking patch of Stinging Nettle, beside the park.
A bonsai style Hogweed (most likely the non-edible type). It looks as though this one was determined to proliferate, despite repeated mowings in Park Frankendael.
Here’s a little Chickweed, growing under the playground railings.
Malva, nestled beside a landscaping rock, alongside Restaurant de Kas.
Ground ivy, beside another such rock.
And lastly, one of the most plentiful wild food trees in town, Copper Beech, definitely not looking tasty at the moment – well past it’s best. I’ll have to wait until spring to harvest the delicate new leaf buds, again. But there are plenty other tasty things available, all through the winter.
Today a photo of a fresh, beautiful and delicate plant which is a gift to the urinary system. This is Pennsylvania Pelitory (Paretaria pennsylvanica).
The first Urbanherbology Apprentice group meet for the first time today – what a joy to meet and share with those lovely gifted people! We made simple tinctures from this plant, in the woods of Frankendael and by coincidence saw my neighbour and her dog Tobias (my inspiration for learning about this plant) as we walked to the harvest site.
We found many other lovely, useful plants this morning. Ground ivy (Glechoma hederaceae), Marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) and Himalayan balsam being amongst them. Here’s a link to a useful old text entry, about Ground ivy.
One topic of conversation was Wild carrot (Daucus carota), it’s traditional uses and recent related research. Here’s a link particularly for the apprentices – it will lead you to you to a little more information about the plant, including Robin Rose Bennet’s informative article and also by coincidence, a photo of the black rose hips and the unfortunately named Birthwort, both were mentioned whilst we walked. I’m really looking forward to hearing how you all get on this month!