On a fresh Spring morning in Arigna…

In Herbs, permaculture, sustainable living on April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

Everything is so fresh this morning after the rain of the weekend. The Birch is sending forth it’s new soft leaves. This tree, which can be seen from our kitchen window is one of my favourite trees. It is a tree said to have a particular affinity with women. It’s slender white trunk and graceful branches which allow light to filter softly through have earned it the title  “Lady of the Woods.” The leaves are edible… having diuretic and antiseptic properties… they are considered a Spring tonic… as is the sap which needs to be drawn before the buds break.

Honesty or Lunaria is flowering at the moment…like many things this year it is a little early. I love Purple flowers so this is a welcome relief from the predominant yellows of the moment. I often wonder if people see colours differently? I sometimes say to Andy “look at that, I just love that purple,” he will say “that’s not purple, it’s blue.” I know purple and blue are close together in the colour spectrum but to me they are vastly different. I find blue to be a cold colour while purple is, to me, a warm enlivining colour.

Going into the garden it seems the Victoria Plum is having a rest this year. It should be flowering now. It has given around 40 lbs of fruit each year for the last 5 years so it is entitled to a break. As if to compensate both of the Damson trees are flowering for the first time.

There are lots of Comfrey plants all around the garden. Such a useful plant! Mixed with Nettles it makes a wonderful organic fertiliser for all growing things. The smell is rank so leave it in an out of the way spot. Comfrey has a very long taproot so it is a great accululator of minerals from deep in the earth. This are made available in the fast growing leaves which can also be used as a mulch around plants. This is a permaculture technique called “crop and drop.” Four to five cuts a year can be taken. Comfrey also has medicinal uses. The name “knitbone” gives a clue to one of it’s uses. A poultice of the leaves is said to help broken bones heal easier and stimulate cell growth and repair. It can also be used internally, but caution is needed as there are reports of Comfrey causing liver damage.

Jostaberries are promising a good crop this year…if we get them before the blackbirds!

Even the outdoor herbs have put on a lot of growth already this year. The Lovage is a little bit weighed down by all the rain at the moment but it is huge compared to this time in previous years. It is flanked by more Comfrey, Chives, Gooseberry and a young Crab Apple tree in this 3 year old forest garden area. Lovage makes a good substitute for Celery and in my view easier to grow. I’ve not had much success with growing Celery. I much prefer the perennial plant that returns each year. I always have wastage from Celery anyway. I buy a head…use a few stems for cooking… then it gets shoved to the back of the fridge to be discovered a few weeks later as a sad, floppy item destined for the compost. So not totally wasted I suppose but from now on it’s Lovage for me. Fresh and tasty direct from the good Earth.

  1. I love birches and so enjoyed your discussion of the “Lady of the Woods”– perfect. I’d never heard of jostaberry but it looked currant-y and I see by a quick search that its a cross of black currant and gooseberry. Sounds wonderful! Now just a word in defense of celery. I’ve found it is the easiest thing to grow in a pot in the greenhouse all winter, and it’s very easy from seed. (I do cherish the dependable lovage as well.)

  2. Lovage! That’s what my herb garden is missing.

    I like honesty too. Especially with a nice bright green spurge.

  3. Oh, you’re comfrey is looking nice. The stand in our yard is no where near that yet, barely coming back to life after winter so far.


  4. A poetic post with lots of info and tips. Lovage as a replacement for floppy celery is the most useful for me.

  5. It does look like a beautiful Spring morning. I just love your Birch tree and those gorgeous Lunaria.

  6. You need a big plot to grow comfrey! We had it at one point in our little raised bed and it was very hard to take out with its long roots when it tried to take over the whole thing and I wanted it so much because it is such a good fertiliser. The cold weather has slowed everything down again here which is fine and the last two days we have had good rain finally so everything is moist and looks much happier.x Joanna

  7. I love that the Lady of the Woods watches over you!

  8. I too have lots of comfrey and lovage, though the lovage is planted in the wrong place and is a bit of a nuisance. I love this time of year for the fresh spring greens more than anything else.

  9. I don’t know how I survived before I discovered Comfrey!

  10. You have such a variety of useful plants Bridget and I enjoy learning more about their uses and history! I agree about people seeing colours differently (or maybe calling the same colour a different name!). My husband and I always disagree on shades of blue and green.

  11. Astonished by the honesty flowering. I get the impression lots of things are held back where I live because it has been dry for ages. Yesterday, it rained solidly for several hours so maybe this will be time for them to catch up. Do you find your loveage leaves get attacked by insects?

  12. Love your garden. 🙂 How good it must feel to have so many helpful plants around, and to be a part of of their growth and hope.

  13. I love the freshness of spring, everything is filled with such promise.

  14. What a wonderful herb collection you have! The information about comfrey was very interesting.

  15. My hubby is the same with colours. I think men and women see differently.
    Hahaha…I’m a celery forgetter too…I wouldn’t have made a very good Roman!!
    Jane x

  16. I’m learning about so many new plants – it’s wonderful! We tried lovage a couple of years ago, but we planted it in a bad spot and it got swamped by Bermuda grass (never did find the lovage plants again 😉 ). We must try it again. I also “lose” celery in the refrigerator and I’d much prefer to have a home grown substitute!

  17. Lovely Spring photos,Bridget. I am the same with Celery, I grew way too much last year,and not doing any this year either!

  18. Your photos really are a “breath of spring” as they say. Even if it is a bit early, it’s always so nice to see the earth waking back up, I think. I get so sad every autumn when things die, even though I know it is the natural way (even though we had a very unnatural storm that threw us abruptly into winter–but that was just last year). So this year all the more I am appreciating spring–allergies and all!


  19. My husband and I often see colours differently. I have a jacket for example that is olive green but he insists it’s brown. It makes for an interesting time when choosing paints and soft furnishings !!! It rained all day here yesterday. It was a shame with it being a Bank Holiday, not great for the tourist industry but, even in Wales, we need the rain. I like how it freshens everything up. Things had started to take on a dry, dusty look. My honesty is flowering too and because it’s early but the other plants aren’t is has ruined the look I was aiming for. Oh well, that’s gardening.

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