Tag Archives: Linden

365 Frankendael day 75

I went for an earlier walk in the park today and was rewarded by finding the freshest and most delicious Lime (Tilia) flowers that I have ever harvested.  Here’s the tree they came from.  I turned them into a tea and shared it with the painters and my little girl.  Lime tea is especially good on a warm summer day like today. It is cooling and refreshing.

Here’s a neighbouring Tilia tree in the park. It must be a different variety as everything about it is a little smaller than most Tilia in the park and the the leaves are a little darker.  The flowers are also placed slightly differently on the twigs. I don’t know so much about the different varieties but I do know that Tilia tastes good and is very beneficial.

Next is a harmonious grassland combination of Plantain, Yarrow and Red clover in bloom.  I set off today hoping to find enough Yarrow to make a tick-deterring tincture. I got rather side tracked by other herbs and in the end, didn’t notice enough to harvest. So instead of tincturing, two flower stalks are brightening up a small vase on my dining table.  It’s good to remember just how many ways there are to benefit from flowers.

Here are two of my favourite things, my little girl and a huge Brassica plant.  As with most naturalised and wild brassicas, all parts are edible and quite strong tasting. Just a carefully picked leaf or two should liven up a meal.  (Thanks Jennie for correcting me on this one, I thought it was Wild Cabbage but that only grows near the coasts on chalky soil). This one may be Rapseed (Brassica napus). My friend Jennie Akse is running a herb walk focused on edible yellow flowering plants, around in Amsterdam at present.  Have a look at the Meetup group for details.

Here is a herb that I find quite wondrous, Dark Mullein (Verbascum nigrum). Useful for many disorders, such as lung weakness and infection and most popular, I think, as an ear infection remedy.

Next up today is another herbal harmony, Veronica‘s towering blue spires mixed with more Mullien, Mugwort and Agrimony.

Here are some striking and Poisonous Lilies, in the formal garden behind Frankendael Huis and Merkelbach.  I add this photo because yesterday I featured the very edible Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva), which can look very similar to the uninitiated.  All parts of Lily are toxic. I have never thought about eating this type of plant but I find the pollen, when trapped in a living room with it for instance, very irritating.

Here is Catnip (Nepta sp). A member of the mint family, it can be used in similar refreshing ways. I like to make a sinus blasting pesto with it sometimes. It has many uses and is quite easy to grow.  Many will already know about cat’s affinity to this herb.  Some love it and find it quite a turn on, others seem to lack receptivity to it and many show more of a loved-up reaction to Valerian.

Another minty wonder is shown below, the often overlooked and trampled Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea). The pretty purple flower spikes are gone from most of the plants now but just look at that rich foliage! Now is a good time to harvest and use it or dry it for the winter. But why bother when this ground covering  plant is around all year long?

Next is a delicious Garlic Mustard plant (Alliaria petiolata), showing different stages of seed pod development. This is a wonderfully tasty herb to add to all sorts of cooking.  It is also great used as a salad leaf or flower.  Looking at these seed pods reminds me of why it’s a pity to harvest the flowers of this super biennial.  Less flowers, less seeds, less plants next year.

Next is a large plant which I’ve been hunting for some time – a first year Burdock (Arctium lappa), ripe for root harvesting.  It seemed that all the Burdock in Amsterdam were second years, in bloom and not very nutritious or medicinal.  Now that the council have mowed some patches of the park, some first year Burdock have been kindly left to develop.  I won’t be digging this plant up but it’s good to see it and be reassured that a first year plant is easy to identify.

Lastly today, a type of Hyssop (Hyssopus sp.).  I used this plant quite a lot last year, it is very aromatic and makes good tea. I’ll have a careful look at this one again soon to identify it fully.

365 Frankendael day 61


Today is the Summer Solstice, Midsummer’s Day and I am having a lovely time! Myself, Livvy, Isobel, Esther, Isobel and the two babies, harvested leaves and flowers from some of the Lime trees (Tilia sp.) Which form the main avenue in Frankendael Park. It was so pleasant to share the Midsummer harvest with other like minded people. We cleaned the honeydew from the leaves, in a bowl of fresh water, made tea in flasks of boiled water and sandwiches from the harvest and some Lime honey.

I’ll be doing this again on Sunday in a different location, but I think there is nothing quite like the burgeoning green energy of Midsummer’s Day. The plants seem to be about to pop with the amount of goodness within them and some of them have certainly sprung suddenly into flower today.

I found lots of Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) just in flower, today and harvested some for a tincture. Likewise, Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is in perfect form for tincturing. These and Lime are the three summer herbs which I love the most so I spent time with them today.

I was also pleased to see that some of the Mullein plants in the park have quietly started to flower and patches of Feverfew close to Frankendael park are also standing out. The Plantain (Plantago major) leaves are currently enormous and I will be tincturing some of them and their flowers in the days to come along with Lime tree leaves and flowers.

If you tend to see Midsummer as the end of the lightness and you morn its passing, perhaps try and see it in a different way. More as a time to thank the Sun and light for all the transformation it has provided and welcome in the gradually approaching darkness. The darkness can teach us much about ourselves, it gives a chance to reflect inwardly on what has happened in the preceding time and encourages us to appreciate the light, when it returns.

Lime leaves & flowers – sandwiches, scented water and drying (NL:Linden, Tilia)

Yesterday I walked to a local public garden and harvested a carrier bag full of leaf and blossom sprigs from Lime/Linden (Tilia) trees.  These trees smell great at the moment. Whole neighbourhoods are perfumed by Lime flowers, loaded with nectar to attract hoards of bees.

If you pluck clean a clean lime flower from a tree in a safe location, you may like to eat it directly. They taste sweet and aromatic with a hint of bitter tannin. The aroma which will fill your mouth, nose and mind is uniquely delicious and has been highly prized, by many cultures, for centuries.  Lime flowers will quickly release a little glutinous, sweet mucilage as you chew.  More details about properties of this amazing tree in the main post on Lime.

So with limited space and time…
How to dry tree leaves and flowers.

  1. Once home, lay out the harvest on a light surface and discard any rough, diseased or otherwise unhealthy looking leaves, flowers or sprigs.
  2. Allow time for bugs to escape and find them a new home if they seem lost.
  3. My harvest was partly covered in a dried black film – originating from greenfly droppings in the canopy – so I then used scissors to separate the flowers from the leaves.  99% of the flowers were unaffected.
  4. Gently but thoroughly wash any dirt or film from the leaves, using cold water.  If you wash the flowers you will loose the valuable nectar and pollen.
    (It was very difficult to remove the black film from some parts so I discarded these and added them to my balcony pots as a mulch)
  5. Dry the leaves with a clean tea towel or muslin.
  6. Lay out the leaves and flowers separately to dry, on clean paper, cloths or trays.
    (I spread my harvest out on my dining room table, with a clean, absorbent, cotton table cloth beneath.  The room used needs to be well ventilated and fairly warm to facilitate good drying)
    This could be done in a very cool oven, I prefer to save electricity and let time do the drying.
  7. Turn the harvest from time to time to allow all surfaces to dry.
  8. If necessary, when the herbs feel dry to touch, move them to a more convenient drying area.
  9. Keep checking and shifting the herbs around to facilitate drying, for as long as it takes them to become completely brittle.
    (The flowers will dry much more quickly than the leaves, which could take 3 weeks)
  10. Inspect again for mould, unhealthy looking herbs.
  11. Store in glass airtight containers.Uses:
    Lots of information is given in the main Lime post but here are couple of others…

    • I couldn’t wait to use some of my harvest so I made Lime leaf, blossom and Amsterdam honey sandwiches for lunch.
    • I also added a few flowers to my cold water bottle this morning.  The water tasted and smelt very fragrant after about an hour.  It tasted far better than any shop bought, flavoured water and had the added benefit of a few cooling, gooey flowers to chew on during my 30 degree Dutch class.  The flowers would also look very pretty in a decanter of dinner table water.
    • Lime is magical – if you have the chance, give it a try!

Lime (NL:Linden) for Magical Midsummer Happiness

City bees are dizzy with happiness at present. The sweet perfume of Lime (NL:Linden, Tilia spp.) trees fills the air in many streets and parks, attracting bees from far and wide.  This tree looks wonderful, can grow to a stately height, is great for wildlife and it’s flowers are used to make the best herb tea and honey on Earth (well, I think so anyway!).  The Lime tree is able to calm our nerves and bring us happiness.

The tree is easily identified. It has a classic tree shape, if allowed to grow unchecked, has large heart-shaped and sharply toothed leaves which are smooth above. Lime flowers hang yellowish-white from the trees from Midsummer to July, not necessarily all over the tree. There are often burrs on the handsome trunks.

Uses

  • Linden flower tea is very popular here in the Netherlands and across the continent.  Lime grows abundantly in the UK yet is less widely used.  The French prize the herb tea made from Linden flowers above most others and call it Tilleul.  It was used traditionally in Europe to treat nervous disorders such as hysteria, nervous vomiting and palpitations brought about by stress.
  • Linden honey has been highly prized for generations, has a heavenly taste and carries many of the properties of the tree.
  • Lime wood is excellent for minutely detailed carving and turning, being close grained, strong, durable and unattractive to woodworm.
  • Lime bark has been traditionally used in Europe to make baskets and fishing nets.
  • The sap is plentiful in spring and has a high sugar content.  It can be tapped in the same as Maple and Birch.
  • The leaves can also be made into a tea/infusion whereupon they yield an extremely thick (mucilaginous) and cooling drink.  They also make a simple and tasty sandwich filling.
  • It is found by many to be helpful for coughs, colds, fevers, headaches, inflammation, as a diaretic, general tonic, to calm the gut and to soothe nerves.
  • In general this herb is thought of as soothing, relaxing and promoting feelings of happiness.

Narcotic intoxication:
Lime blossom is easy to harvest, dry and use but as with all herbs, it should be treated with great respect.  Harvest when in full bloom and all should be well but beware that Lime blossom tea can produce a mild, non addictive intoxication.  Flowers left on the tree too long before harvesting are said to have a more intoxicating effect.  The mildly intoxicating effect of appropriatly harvested Lime makes many of us feel happy. It also makes Lime extremely valuable to those seeking to enter a state of trance and other magical journeying.

On a spiritual level, Lime is renowned as a tree herb which can help relieve grief and induce feelings of vibrancy and youthfulness.  To appreciate these qualities it is said that you should carry a small bag, filled with dried Lime leaves, or that you place them under your pillow.

How to harvest Lime/Linden.

Harvest from mature Lime trees, in as clean and unpolluted an area as is possible.
Choose a dry day, preferably before it becomes too hot and after the dew has dried.
Snip off young healthy sprigs, containing blossoms and a few leaves, from branches which you can reach easily.
Respect the trees and harvest sparingly.
Spread the harvest out on a clean dry surface, preferably on trays so air can circulate easily.
Leave in a warm, well ventilated place for 2 – 3 weeks, until the sprigs are thoroughly dry and brittle.
Store in sterilised airtight containers.

How to make Linden/Lime tea and infusion.
You can make Linden tea by simply steeping a sprig of fresh Lime in a cup of boiling hot water for as long as desired for taste.  Or you can use a teaspoon full of dried crushed herb per cup.

To make an infusion place about 5 tablespoons of crushed dried herb in a pot or jar which holds about 500ml of water (you could scale this up to suit the size of your container).  Add 500ml boiling water and leave with a tightly fitting lid and without heat, for between 4 and 8 hours (preferably overnight).  Then strain, separately retaining both the herb and infusion.  The infusion should be good for 24 hours if refrigerated.  Return the “used” herb material to the pot and add about 300ml of boiling water.  Simmer gently, for up to 2 hours, after which a very mucilaginous fluid should be obtained.  Again this should be good for about 24 hours if refrigerated.