Wild Weed Wisdom

Nurture Your 'Inner Wild' with Foraged Edible and Medicinal Plants

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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?


Cheery Cherry Blossom Beauty

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Cheery Cherry Blossom Beauty

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.

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Such Sweet Sorrel – Rumex acetosella


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.

Happy foraging!

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Arugula Gone Wild!

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.

Arugula Gone Wild!Arugula leavesWild Arugula Bunch


Last week to catch the Dog-Violet

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Last week to catch the Dog-Violet

This is probably the last week or two to spy the shy, but fairly common, Dog Violet, viola riviniana. This pretty little flower with the inspiring aroma and gentle, loving energy is full of vitamins – a welcome treat in the old days for families emerging from a winter living off dried and preserved foods.
You may have seen sugared violets gracing fancy cakes and pastries – a few flower-heads in a dried tea mix, or atop a fresh, foraged salad, look simply beautiful. The leaves are also edible.
I suggest, if you see this darling, to just have a nibble of a leaf, followed by the taste of one flower, allowing the scent and flavour to linger on your tongue… unless, of course, you’ve found a forest-edge or shady glen full of them, where if you pick just a few more it should be okay. Maybe a prayer or song for the Dog-Violet faery is in order in that case… 🙂

Herbal Sleep & Dream Pillows for Wild Weed Kids



Dream and Sleep Pillows usually give off a wonderful aroma of sweet and pungent herbs, such as lavender, cedar, chamomile, rose, and anise. Some of the other herbs are not quite so aromatic, but still offer benefits to sleep and dreaming – motherwort and hops. Max (aged 6) is getting a good dose of some Rosemary from her basket! To learn about how to make your own Sleep or Dream Pillow, click here.


We all put special notes, words and/or drawings into our pillows to personalize them and fill them with intent. The children LOVED this concept, and dove into the task of carefully customizing their pillow. Here is 5-year-old Anika with her drawing.


In the bottle you can see dried hops (sleep enhancer), in the background is a bottle of Calendula (gentle, loving dreams) and the loose, dried herb is mugwort (enhanced dreams). Children don’t really need this herb to enhance dreams, but I found such a nice patch, that had been out all winter, and was therefore less potent, I thought it would be nice to introduce it. Plus, it is great for kids to see the herb on the stalk, and pull the dried leaves of themselves.


There was some Motherwort (Cardiaca leonorus) growing on-site, and I also had some dried with me… I explained to the children how, aside from the traditional use as a heart-remedy, Motherwort also bathed you in “Mother’s Love” when you felt lonely, angry, jealous, or just plain sad. Or just when you wanted a hug, and your Mommy couldn’t be there. All the kids said they’d like this, especially because they wished they could snuggle with their Mom’s all night long. Marou’s pillow was made with great care, full of all the loving herbs – Motherwort, Rose, Chamomile and Calendula, especially.


Filling the pillow with loving thoughts…


We first had a tour of some of the living herbs growing at the VU Hortus – Rosemary, Sage, Motherwort, Cedar, Birch… and then added some extra I provided.


This bag of Rosebuds made each child sigh with happiness, and close their eyes with joy. Can you imagine how they may help with happy, loving dreams? (They also taste divine when added to a pot of black tea)


Another good look at the bags (bath-linen mittens) we used. Easy to make yourself as well, with old cloth hankys, for example.


Amelie did a great job stripping the dried leaves off of the Mugwort stalk.


… and again, this time it’s Mateo.


We also added Mullein, to help keep nightmares at bay and have nice dreams. The kids loved the idea of herbs to help with that. Here, I am holding some dried flower-head; there was also some fresh Mullein growing on-site that we discovered and talked about.


The children helped harvest Rosemary leaves and we put them in the pillow – also to ward off bad dreams – and of course, we all ate some!


Here’s a nice, fat, young, Motherwort leaf! Perfect for feeling loved and protected.


A wonderful day.

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Spring Blossom Festival at VU Hortus Botanicus (Cancelled)

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Heirloom veggies for sale!Autumn's Open House

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 Vu Hortus will soon be having its Spring Blossom Festival to celebrate the magic of spring!

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!

Horsetail at the VUsmudge sticks and hazelnuts at our booth

Homemade natural preserves and cordialsI have herbal-infusion teabags for sale... each bag is for a big pot of tea.

Stroll through the greenhouses......keep going...

...until you find the turtle pond. Kids and adults love it! Hope to see you there :)

…until you find the turtle pond. Kids and adults love it! Hope to see you there 🙂

This gallery contains 21 photos