The meandering thoughts of a modern-day hearth witch.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Hedgerow Ramblings // Wild Garlic

Wild garlic, or Ramsons, can be seen around woodland areas, growing in abundance amongst the bluebells, at this time of year. If you brush past it, you get a distinct aroma of garlic. The leaves and flowers are edible - but take care if the plants haven't yet flowered, as you may confuse the wide, flat leaves for those of the poisonous Lily of the Valley. The flowers are distinct, however, with tiny white petals in a loose pompom and if you pick a leaf and crush it slightly, you will know by the smell that it is garlic. 

Wild garlic is of the allium family - closely related to chives - and can be used in similar ways. The flowers add flavour to salads or sprinkled over pasta dishes. You could whizz the leaves up with some oil into a pesto and coat meat, fish or use as a stir-in sauce. Blanched and chopped, the leaves would also make a lovely accompaniment to meat or fish, or in a risotto. Make sure you wash them thoroughly before use and be respectful when foraging. Only take what you need - leave plenty for others - or better still, grow some of your own in your garden.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Three Word Thursday

Hawk vs Crow

Monday, 14 May 2012

Hedgerow Ramblings // Hawthorn

May is in bloom!

As it always flowers in May, hawthorn is often simply referred to as 'May' or 'May tree'. Due to this association with the onset of summer - and the fact that it so often blooms for Beltane - the tree has historically symbolised marriage, fertility and the union of man and woman. May poles, which were traditionally danced around as a fertility ritual, were originally made from hawthorn wood. 

Also linked to its flowering at Beltane - the sabbat opposite Samhain on the Wheel of the Year and the mirroring of a time when the veil between this world and the 'Otherworld' is considered to be at its thinnest - Beltane has a rich lore associated with the faery realm. Legends say that if you sit under a hawthorn on May 1st, you will be led into the world of fae for good. 

Wands made of hawthorn wood are said to contain great power - it works particularly well for spells concerning protection, healing and fertility or blessings for love and marriage. However, be careful never to cut a branch of hawthorn - it is a sacred tree and should be treated respectfully. Even if you do not believe in its spiritual properties, hawthorn hedgerow is native to the UK but declining - as a result, it is protected. 

As always, take care when foraging or using wild plants for medicinal purposes. Hawthorn has several qualities which make it suitable for treating medical conditions. Its berries (haws) contain many vitamins and are widely used to treat heart conditions. Its flowers can also be used externally to treat acne but when taken internally it acts as a sedative. It is strongly advised not to self-medicate with hawthorn due to its significant effects on the heart. It should not be used during pregnancy.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Allotment Tales // Hello Sunshine!

We have finally been able to get down to the allotment and complete some long-awaited tasks this weekend. The sunshine has finally come out and the rain has stopped for long enough for us to do some weeding, planning and plotting.

Of course, the rain has been much-needed and has meant that our established plants such as herbs, or those which were over-wintering like the onions and broad-beans, are doing really well. These chives are flowering in abundance and I'm looking forward to using the flowers in some summery salads and pasta dishes, for a garlicky flavour. 

Now that the ground has dried out a bit, we have been able to plot out our sections and paths, get rid of the insane amount of weeds and begin sowing seeds. Last year, my strawberries were in the ground and they didn't do particularly well. Slugs and birds got to them and it was difficult to keep them weed free. This year I have put them in a raised bed. Strawberries do prefer being in containers, so hopefully we'll get a better crop. They'll be easier to cover with a net to keep birds away as well.

The most exciting development, however, is that we have our very first bench! Now we'll be able to sit in a bit more comfort and enjoy a tea-break when we're down there. We've plotted out the section in front of it to look a bit more like a cottage kitchen-garden - with a curved path, small plots of lettuce, herbs and flowers  - rather than the long drills of vegetables we have in the remainder of the allotment. With a wigwam of sweet peas, lavender and chamomile around the bench, I'm hoping it will be a lovely place to sit.

Happy gardening to those of you who do - I hope the sunshine stays out for you and you're been able to create a little bit of garden magick in the coming weeks. We certainly have this weekend!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Three Word Thursday

Absolutely loved this.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Plans, Goals and Hopes for May

As I was welcoming May - and summer - yesterday, I thought about the goals I want to achieve over this month and the forthcoming summer. We are already seeing the beginnings of growth around us, from the seeds we planted at the start of the year and in Spring. 

Some of these seeds are literal seeds - there are crops beginning to sprout on the windowsill and down at the allotment. Some, however, are metaphorical - personal plans that we put in place and goals we are striving to achieve this year. For example, my photography blog, charting 366 photos for 2012 was something I began in January and is now flourishing! I have had my first paid photography job and I have put plans in place to reduce my teaching hours next year. 

I am so thankful to be seeing these plans already come into fruition - I'm sending lots of gratitude out into the Universe at the moment! But now it's time to take the next steps. My beans won't grow healthy and strong without some canes to support them, lots of watering and sunshine and a bit of love. The same applies to my dreams. 

So...some of my May goals are...

~ To create a 'vision board' of where I want to be next year, with lots of beautiful, visual images to keep me inspired when working towards my goals.
~ Some complete some small photography projects, which will add to my repertoire of skills. These include taking 'moving star' photographs and water droplets.
~ To get a bench sorted for our allotment, so that we can enjoy the time down there, peacefully watching growth, as well as instigating it.
~ To improve and beautify the area where I sleep, so I feel rested and re-energised each morning. 

What steps towards your goals are you planning on taking this May?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Wheel of the Year // Beltane

Blessed Beltane everyone! Happy May 1st.
This afternoon I will be celebrating the arrival of summer by making a list of new goals that I want to bring into fruition in May and over the forthcoming months. More on those tomorrow.

Brightest blessings everyone. 

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