Tag Archives: Veronica

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 71

Meadowsweet, buds still developing. I’ve been waiting for them to open into almond scented flowers for several weeks now. Still good for harvesting. Delicious as a tea and beneficial for stomach disorders and pain relief.

Here is my favourite tonic herb in flower: Leonurus cardiaca, Motherwort. My park harvested tincture is developing nicely on my kitchen shelf at present. So easy to make and so little of the herb had to be harvested. I used part of this plant for my tincture and there’s no evidence left to see, just a healthy and beautiful plant for everyone to enjoy.

Next is another pain reliever, but far too potent for me: Poppy, Papaveraceae sp. On a recent meetup group Lime harvest, a member told me how her French Grandmother used to swear by a cough syrup which she brewed down from poppy flowers and sugar. Isobel has made this her self and says it’s beautiful, works a treat but has an unfortunate blood pressure altering effect so she had to stop using it. Not so surprising as the poppy family is the source of morphine. I heard of another contemporary Poppy remedy this week on the Green Peace Walks I led. Boiling up the flowers in water, a decoction, as a heroine substitute! This was witnessed by a walker and not made by any of the Greenpeace walkers, I hasten to add. Not really my cup of tea, but certainly a useful last ditch pain reliever if ever there was an urgent need. The dosage of herbal remedies is often quite a fine art. The amount required for a medicine like effect, depending upon time of harvest, freshness of herb etc. That’s why I stick to mainly tonic herbs, they can be taken for a reasonably long period without negative effects building up and they work more by supporting health rather than suppressing illness. I think that Poopy remedies must be particularly subject to this variation and are thus seen as unsafe by almost everyone. A lot of people enjoy the seeds as a bread ingredient. By harvesting seeds from small patches of Poppy such as this one, the chance of Poppy plants next year is greatly reduced.

Next today is Veronica, also called Speedwell. I have never used the plant but it’s a useful and very beautiful one. I’m not exactly sure of the genus of Veronica but its similar to Veronica spicata.

There was more mowing going on in and around the park today and also I noticed that a sprawling poisonous White Bryony had been carefully removed, from the Juniper bush I watch it climb. Perhaps also by the maintenance team? This poisonous plant remains and does look rather lovely: Birthwort.

Here is Teasel, now with fully formed and about to bear a pretty ring of tiny flowers around those distinctive flower heads. This plant shows much promise in the treatment of Lyme’s Disease. I like to drink from the water collecting leaf joints, on dewy mornings.

There were so many other plants around today but not enough time to write about them. I also met Joop, looking for the Spoonbill and a freindly local woman, also taking photos of plants, who has a children’s clothing range inspired by the nature in park Frankendael. What a lovely idea! Sorry, I forgot to ask her name, if she reads this perhaps she’d like to email me or place a comment below.