When I see young people moodily pulling leaves off a tree as they walk by, or tearing a flower to bits, what I see is an instinctual – though unconcious – act of herbal self-healing. Just as we clench our fists when angry (this is a hand-mudra, used in yoga to deal with anger) or bang our fists to our heads with frustration over a problem (in yoga, pressure on the forehead activates the frontal lobe, dealing with short-term memory and problem-solving), so tearing up leaves or flowers releases chemical components of the plant and surround the person with its healing energy. These are simply my thoughts and intuitions… how do YOU feel about this?
This cherry tree at the Vu Hortus Botanicus is unusual because it was grafted from a cherry tree from Japan, onto the whole trunk of the host tree. Parakeets eat the blossoms. As for me, sitting under it’s snowy, blossom-covered branches is like gliding effortlessly into meditation. Impossible to take my mind off it’s beauty. Impossible to leave without feeling lifted, filled-up with joy. My feet barely touch the ground, and I feel as though I am simply a fallen petal, being blown by the breeze.
Today we were out seeing what was coming up and I was a bit surprised to see so much lovely, sweet sorrel. The leaves, seeds and roots are all edible – probably you’ve nibbled on it yourself as a child? The taste is deliciously lemon-tangy, and gets the saliva flowing – it is supposed to be very good for digestion. And, for quenching thirsty hikers and foragers along the trail side. I love to top cooked potatoes with a few fresh leaves… simple and perfect. (The simpler, the better, for me anyway)
Right now is an ideal time to pick it, as it is so very tender and juicy. Let me know if you have any growing near you or need help identifying – send me a photo if you aren’t sure. AND, never eat wild leaves if you are not absolutely certain of what they are – bring your pocket guidebook with you to help you out.
I don’t know if you’re as crazy about arugula (rocket) as I am, but I know that it is one fine and tasty salad green. I have been sighting this garden-escapee all over Amsterdam for the past few years, and you can look for it as well – there is a good chance it is growing in a sunny, sandy location near you!
Simply be sure it is in an unpolluted place – and then only take a few leaves at a time. If you keep picking, it will keep providing… growing thickly until late summer, when the flowers and then seeds come out. The first thing you’ll probably notice when you sample it, is that the wild arugula has a far superior flavour than store-bought – and a spicier bite!
If you find some, but not in a clean place, no problem – gather up the seed pods and release them into a preferred location – it must be well-drained soil and sunny – and then enjoy them next year.
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Just recent: Due to unforeseen circumstances, The Vu Hortus has cancelled their Spring Blossom Festival. Below is my original posting. I decided to leave it up as an introduction to the VU Hortus, if you don’t already know it.
The dates are April 20-21 and will be from 10:00 to 17:00 (hours to be confirmed)
I’ll be there on Saturday, offering some fun events: How to Make an Herbal Tincture, and Smudge-Stick-Making, and have a few surprise-offerings of creative nature-play. Would love to have volunteers to help out at the booth, or with the events, so if you’d like to be involved in any aspect, just let me know.
For the kids, there will be an ongoing scavenger hunt, a kids-corner where they can display their nature-discoveries, draw pictures, do crafts, and, if there is a plentiful supply of nettle, we’ll make and sample yummy and healthful nettle pesto.
And there’s more: handmade preserves and farm-honey, and tropical plants, tulip-bulbs, ornamental plants and potted herbs for sale. I’m hoping the Pakistani couple with their amazing chai and samosas will be there – last year their food was so yummy, they completely sold out by the end of day! And, of course, we all look forward to some free, live music!!!
Please take a moment to read and sign the petition to help keep the Vu Hortus!
Here are some photos from last year. My two little daughters and I finished off our weekend with crazy dancing to the awesome salsa band… not a bad way to spend some time!
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