Melanie’s Herb Diaries

Castle Blends - photo by Jack Cox

‘Direct from Garden to Mug’

Despite my best efforts to source my medicines in a sustainable way, it bothered me that 9 times out of 10, even common native herbs, like Dandelion and Yarrow, were shipped in from abroad, so that the carbon footprint created by all that transport effectively wiped out many of the benefits of choosing organically-grown herbs.  So when I met Ida Fabrizio, Garden Project co-ordinator at the Castle Climbing Centre, earlier this year, I was excited to hear that, as well as supplementing the kitchen with vegetables, herbs and fruit destined for the centre’s fantastic café, they were making their own herbal tea blends and herb balms, grown and processed on site!

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Hawthorn seedlings (Crataegus spp.)

The way to a herbalist’s heart..

Brian, whoever you are.. you certainly know the way to a herbalist's heart! I found these seedlings in the greenhouse at Living Under One Sun, a community growing space in Tottenham, North London, where I have been learning horticulture these past couple of months. They weren't for me (sadly!), but it was exciting to see that someone had lovingly propagated seedlings from one of the most important native plants in our Materia Medica.

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Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

Ground Ivy, “The Deceiver” – but a useful one!

As a herbalist, I often find my gaze wandering to all that is green - and potentially medicinal - growing about my feet. I was smiling to myself as I walked along a suburban footpath this afternoon, registering how much growth there has been in the past couple of weeks, when I suddenly stopped short at the sight of what I thought looked like some sort of miniature sweet violet. In fact, it was nothing of the kind. Like so many before me, I had been deceived by a pretty herb called Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea). No wonder it has gone down in folklore as "The Deceiver"! I was far from disappointed when I took a closer look and realised my mistake, as it's a very useful herb that I like to have in my dispensary.

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