Part five. The final garden design, initial sketches, the 'zoom's for each individual bed... Just need to right a brief overview for the design and then done! Finally!
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
Monday, 5 September 2011
Part four. After transferring from the tracing paper to the new clean sheet, I began the painstaking work of moving round bed's A to E... Designing a planting scheme - with the help of my mother - and designing a theme for each bed. No plant is repeated and each bed has a specific theme.
Part three. My first question of the day: How do you use tracing paper? I understand the initial concept but how do you re-transfer your trace onto the new sheet? After having this explained to me by the All-Knowing Father, I began tracing my new garden design and colouring in the back with a pencil...
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Something I didn't manage to get up at the time... So here is the photo of the 'Lemon Verbena, Thyme, Lemon grass, Lemon Balm and Jasmine flowers with Vodka' - a splash of vodka helps to preserve the syrup.
A photo of the Pharmacopia (small book) and the newly designed Herbarium (large book) - which is still waiting for some of the specimens to dry before it can be completed.
Finally the ingredients for my Green Pharmacy preparation have arrived - a somewhat unsuitable but I'll make it work bottle for my Lavender essential oil, the Basil and Neroli essential oils and my Almond base oil.
Saturday, 27 August 2011
With twelve specimens from "My Medicine Garden"... a beautiful half-acre surrounding our house.
Despite the closing of the Summer season, and the somewhat questionable weather which has "tricked" a sufficient amount of the botanicals in the garden to bloom beautifully and die away quickly. We managed to gather a nice selection of medicinal botanicals... including: French Lavender, Rosemary, Chamomile, Sage, Nasturtium, Mint, Rose, French Marigold, Pansy, Thyme, Catmint and Daisy.
Which are happily flattened with a slightly strange homemade technique - which at first I believed was Mum having a clear-out of her cookery books, that had been left in a giant pyramid on the kitchen table. After a night of flattening, they were moved and with another homemade balancing technique put in our airing cupboard to dry.
Project on its way to completion!
Friday, 19 August 2011
Per 10ml of base oil – Almond Oil (however, other oils may be used, such as Grapeseed or Hemp).
2 drops of Neroli Essential Oil
2 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
2 drops of Basil Essential Oil
- Lavender flowers attached to stem and leaves (they must fill the storage jar – not too tightly packed)
- A wide-mouth jar such as a mason jar
- A wooden mallet or similar
- A zipping plastic bag
- Some muslin for filtering
- Dark-coloured storage bottle
Firstly, you need to make the essential oils – if you so choose to do so. For this remedy, I will be making the essential oil for Lavender only – picked and grown in my own Nursery Herb Bed.
1. Dried Lavender can also be used, however fresh will give more potent results. For a week collect fresh Lavender, as this will give a good range.
2. Put the collected Lavender into the plastic bag, expelling as much air as possible and seal. Bruise the Lavender with the wooden mallet – ensuring you do not pulp the flowers, just lightly damage them – hit the bag about a dozen times lightly.
3. Transfer the Lavender into the storage jar, and pour on the base oil of your choosing until it just covers the material. Seal the jar.
4. Leave to stand in a warm window sill for a minimum of a week. If done in summer, avoid allowing the oil to get too warm as this could damage the oils.
5. After the allotted time period, filter the mixture through the muslin – ensuring you squeeze the plant material to remove as much oil as possible.
6. Return your oil to a storage bottle and keep in a cool, dark place. Dark-coloured bottles are ideal for storage. This oil should keep for up to a year.
Making the aromatherapy oil itself is a very simple process of combining the oils. Per 10 ml of your chosen base oil, you should add 2 drops of Neroli, 2 drops of Basil and 2 drops of Lavender essential oils.
This oil can be used as a fragrance i.e. in an oil burner - combined with water obviously, or it can be used directly on the skin i.e. the temples and throat - avoiding sensitive areas on the face.
This remedy will aid those who suffer from Insomnia.
Neroli, when used in aromatherapy or massage oils, is considered to have a soothing effect on the nervous system. Traditionally, Neroli Oil was used not only to relieve tension and anxiety, but also to increase circulation.
Lavender is an anti-depressive, carminative and a sedative. Recent clinical studies investigated anciolytic effects and influence on sleep quality. Lavender oil with a high percentage of linalool and linalyl acetate, in form of capsules, was generally well tolerated. It showed meaningful efficacy in alleviating anxiety and related sleep disturbances.
Basil is also an anti-depressive, carminative, and a mild sedative. However, the human effects are currently unpublished.
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
• Rhodophyceae (reds)
• Cyanophyceae (blues)
Reaching up to little over 20cm in length, the Irish moss branches four or five times from the holdfast in a fan-like manner. The branches are 2-15mm broad, firm in texture and range from a dark reddish brown to a pink-purple, however the colours bleach to yellow in sunlight. In its fresh condition the plant is soft and cartilaginous.
Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 700ml Milk
- 200ml Cream
- 12 Lemon Balm leaves
- 1 Vanilla pod, split
- 2 Eggs, free range
- 1 tbsp Caster Sugar
For the Raspberry Coulis:
- 250g Raspberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
- 100g Icing Sugar
- 300ml Milk
- 3 or 4 Eggs
- 50g Cheese (grated)
- Salt and Pepper
3. Finely chop the Dulse – preferably in a blender. Place into a sieve and put into a bowl of water for 10 minutes. Remove sieve from bowl and pat Dulse dry.
4. Sprinkle whole pieces of Dulse and grated Dulse into the pie dish.
- 50g Raisins
- 175g white Cabbage (shredded)
- 1 medium Carrot (grated)
- 2 Shallots (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp Apple Juice
- Salt and Pepper
1. Soak Dulse for 5-10 minutes in a bowl of water.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
The Grow Your Own Drugs star and Chelsea Gold Medal Winner, James Wong, joined us in class today.
James flew up specifically from his London-base to join us for one day, and we greeted him with the best of the Scottish weather - torrential downpour, freezing temperatures and blistering winds. On his first visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh, he had come to tell us about his favourite herbs of the moment and to share his knowledge in making lotions, potions and edibles.
In standard Herbology style, the day was started - with a slightly larger than normal class - with teas and then the class dove straight in and began making an Elderflower & Hibiscus Turkish Delight, with beautiful Sambucus negra ‘Black Lace’ flowers that Catherine had collected.
Which, upon completion made an appearance as a grown-up twist on an old-school kid's favourite on James's website.
Born and bred in Singapore and Malaysia with a Malaysian father, James came from a culture where there was no barriers between food and medicine. Where everything is used interchangeably for the health and benefits of the individual.
An example of this interchangable information is Pineapples: eating in the morning is seen as a no-go as it upsets digestion, but you would eat the fruit if you'd consumed a heavy meal the night before or even if you needed to "reset" your digestion, and of course, you would never eat the fruit on an empty stomach as it causes gastric upset.
Then training as an Ethnobotanist at the University of Kent, James was able to focus his own interests, on how medicinal plants were used by different cultures across the world. Throughout his travels the familiar signs of European colonisation had been left, with some of our friends, including Dandelions, Nettles, Daisies and common Hedgerow plants being used in local medicine. 95% of ethnomedica, being our Northern species, has been introdcued and due to their presence in an unnatural environment, they have become pioneer species and are seen as "weeds" due to their fast and widespread growth - similar to the issue of the rabbit "plague" in Australia in 1788, when a foreign species over-populated an area as it had no immediate competitors.
The Rabbit Plague
The passing of plant material in cultures is beneficial but at times can have down-sides, as the related information might not transfer as well e.g. prunes - if introduced - learning the effects first hand and involving that within their traditional medicine.
His research, both independent and alongside the Kew Garden experts, is committed to the global exchange of knowledge, including herbal and medicinal secrets from even the smallest, close-knitted shamanic communitites. James also actively advocates changing what we grow in our own gardens, not only allowing us to help reap the health benefits but the wealth benefits as well - if we so desired.
His top five favourites of the moment are:
Replace Gooseberries with Kiwis
Not the standard Kiwi, Actinidia deliciosa, but the smaller Actinidia arguta (one of the 96 other kinds of known Kiwi's - most of which haven't made it to the West). It is a prized ornamental shrub, which yields small strawberry-size fruits. The Kiwi is traditionally known as the Monkey Peach in Asian societies, as they are seen as a famine food and have an extremely low status.
Whereas New Zealand import the Kiwi fruit and market it for its antioxidant potential - if re-imported into Asia the Kiwi is then seen as a high-class fruit. Asian communities are anti-home goods and will prefer to pay the money, as a status symbol known as the "face" system, for imported goods.
Kiwi's have a very low sugar content but a high acid content, which is useful for breaking down proteins, and is exceptionally good as a meat tenderiser. In cosmetic products, it is also useful as an exfoliant, as it breaks down protein, removes dead cells - glycolic acid (used in chemical skin peels) is similar to fruit acid - this could maybe be useful for scar tissue, fine lines and acne scarring.
Grow Wasabi instead of Cabbage.
Wasabi, it is assumed due to its flexible usage in Japan, is meant to be grown in sub-tropical climates, however, it prefers cold, wet, shady places in preferably chalky soil. Making it a particularly suitable to be grown in Scotland - however Duncan Ross finds it quite hard to grow in his base in the Black Isle.
The entirity of the plant is beneficial for you, with the retail sale prices being incredibly high - the stems selling for £65 in London , if of course they can be found, and as for the leaves, they can't be found at all in the UK.
The wasabi flavour has been known long before we knew the plant and is actually a mix, containing nothing related to the plant, of mustard and horseradish.
The global demand for Wasabi clearly out-strips the supply, due to the difficulties with growing it, and therefore if you managed to cultivate Wasabi in your garden, even the smallest yield would provide financial benefits.
Change your Mint to Stevia.
Stevia rebaudiana - approved safe this year in the EU, and will be legal to sell as a food product in the UK by the end of the year. Originally from Bolivia, it has been used in Japan to sweeten Coke for over 30 years, where other sweeteners are banned.
It is 200 times sweeter than sugar with a similar calorie content to a sprig of Mint.One teaspoon of the dried powdered leaf = 1 cup of sugar. It doesn't work chemically like sugar does - like artificial sweetener - can't preserve with it. Stevia is also anti-bacterial and due to its fluoride content is good for teeth.
Cultivate Crocus sativa instead of Onions.
These beautiful Fall croci yield Saffron in the form of their stigmas – more valuable ounce for ounce than gold. Saffron used to be widely grown in Britain (Saffron Walden, Saffron Hill, etc). Added to a Martini it releases a natural mood enhancer and in Turkey is used for erectile dysfunction...a real party animal.
Crocus sativa produces flowers from October to November, and while doing so produces the World's most expensive spice as their stigmas - more valuable ounce for ounce than gold. Saffron used to be widely cultivated in Britain (Saffron Walden, Saffron Hill in East London, etc). Hardy Spanish Saffron is cheaper - Spanish labour is cheaper than English, as each flower needs to be hand picked, with each thread of Saffron individually selected and dried.
A modern use for Saffron is in a martini, which soaks the threads in vodka/gin, in this way it provides antioxidants and is a mild mood enhancer. Saffron also has the same chemical make-up as Pfizer, a form of Viagra that relieves erectile dysfunction.
Otherwise known as the toothache pant, the electric daisy, the alien plant, the eyeball plant; the marketing name for Acmella oleracea is "electric buttons". The reason behind its many names is 1. it was commonly used for toothaches as it has a numbing effect, and 2. when consuming the plant it's like an electric shock in your mouth - compared to licking a 9 volt battery - some Chef's use the buttons in their recipes i.e. Heston Blumenthal. The flavour cannot be pin-pointed and is described as "mixed" and "strangely interesting".
Sechuan buttons are highly potent and concentrate in alkylamides, which increase white blood cell count (not conclusive). They are also anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.
Sechuan buttons also have a botox-like effect i.e. temporarily relaxes muscles, and is marketed within Tri-aktiline which is an "instant deep wrinkle filler".
They are easy to grow, another plant that prefers the damp, cold climate that Scotland can offer.
We also took a quick walk into the Gardens to show James some of the sights, before gathering handful upon handful of Lemon Balm, so we could redeem the weather by concocting a Lemon Balm cordial when we returned to the classroom.
James making Lemon Balm cordial (Stolen from Herbology 101)
Then passing round the Elderflower delight, and a small glass of the Lemon Balm cordial, we attempted to stop dripping as the class came to an end.
Friday, 15 July 2011
I like the idea of consumable herbal remedies, and not infusions! I may be the pickiest person in the world to try and get to eat things and drink things... so I figure, I am also the perfect person to find something that is not only herbally-infused and tasty but aesthetically pleasing. I believe herbal remedies have to be acceptable to the palate, acceptable to the majority, be fun to make and prepare, and be as easily accessible as pharmaceuticals. Because, lets be honest, pharmaceuticals, over the counter drugs and supermarket stock lists - they make everything easily accessible, to the point of its easier to go and buy some Paracetamol than even considering that your headache may be down to dehydration. They make for an easy fix. And the only major issue I see with herbal preparations, is that it may take some time before an effect can be clearly noticed, whether or not in the long run the herbal preparation is considerably more successful than any pharmaceutical medicines. It is a mindset of the times, that pharmaceutical medicines will always work and herbal preparations don't have that set success rate - whether or not that is actually true. As there is a lot of published evidence, for example, showing that anti-depressant are as successful as placebos when given to people with mild to moderate cases of depressions - so surely, this gives a herbal preparation a standing chance? As whatever "level" of depression is suffered by the patient, a herbal remedy can be concocted to suit the particular patient.
Anyways, slight diversion from the point there. Basically, instead of making a variety of creams, lotions and salves, I prefer to make cordials, syrups, treats and culinary delights to make herbal preparations accessible to all ages and, lets be honest, fun to make!
This will, of course, make its way into a proper Pharmacopeia with the relevant recipe and a range of photos to show the process - as that makes everything easier!
However, after my little collection day and drying day - Nettles, Mint and Rose Petals. I had an urge to create things. So using fresh Mint and the zest and juice of a Lemon, I made - what turned out to be - very scrummy little cupcakes.