Native Plants and Trees

This page is a month-by-month guide to our native plants and trees, their edible and medicinal uses, and includes seasonal recipes for foods and drinks made from what you can gather in the garden or from the hedgerows. It is also a gardening guide to growing the native plants and trees, based on my own experience and experiments. This has led to my interest in native plant guerilla gardening, also included here. We can all play our part in re-wilding the countryside and our own gardens too by planting native plants and trees. We can then gather them for medicines and food and they will help restore the diverse eco-systems so needed by the bees and other wildlife.


January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December




So now as the great growth cycle ends for another year, I am aware that I too need to shut down, to rest and regenerate, to go deep and seek guidance for my new path forwards.

So for now this blog will not have any new additions until I begin again with my journey with the native trees. I hope all the information here continues to be useful to you.

Rest well in the gentle regenerative dark.......

Seek to become one with the life force of the land and your sense of belonging to our beautiful Earth home.......

Let your Love fill you with a deep desire to help the Earth to regenerate and heal. It is better to help her in what ever way we can than to do nothing........ Hope for the future, and future generations of life on Earth, lies in what we do right now......

I leave you with my 'Best Book This Year' review I wrote for Permaculture Magazine. This is the highly recommended 'The Herbalists Bible' by Julie Bruton Seal and Mathew Seal, whose work always inspires me

In 1640, John Parkinson a London master apothecary, herbalist and gardener, published his life's work on the healing 'virtues' of all the plants he had encountered. Parkinson's Theatrum Botanicum was a huge tome of 1,788 large pages and probably because of this it was never reprinted.

In their wonderful new book, well known herbalist's Julie Bruton Seal and Mathew Seal have lovingly and expertly created for us 'The Herbalist's Bible', sharing with us their passion and fascinating journey with Parkinson's book and bringing us the benefit of their modern day herbal knowledge of the plants they have chosen to represent here.

Like all of Julie Bruton Seal and Mathew Seals books, this is a joy to open and to be with. It is beautifully presented, with Parkinson's original drawings and his text reprinted on cream pages on the left hand side, and Julie's stunning photography, herbal wisdom and modern use of the herb printed on white pages on the right hand side. Much is revealed in the comparison and somehow, the act of absorbing both, helped me to reach a much deeper understanding of the plant.

The book begins with Mathew Seal's entertaining and thought provoking introduction and research into the life and times of John Parkinson, herbalist to king Charles1. Parkinson's knowledge was immense and multi layered and it is this that shines out from the cream left hand pages of the book. He was a plantsman as well as a herbalist, with a passion for observation, for science and history. I found it fascinating reading. Julie and Mathew then expertly guide us to a modern herbalist understanding and use of the plant. Mathew and Julie always make their text very accessible to the beginner and the practicing herbalist alike, teaching us to get to the heart of a remedy, teaching us to think and act like a herbalist. They are excellent teachers! Their text is rich with their own experiences, observations, interesting facts and each plant has a well laid out remedy-use section, by both Parkinson and the Bruton Seals, which I like. This book has it all!

It makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in plants, herbalism and social history and although the book is packed full of facts and learning, I found it easy to read and easy to absorb the herbal teachings that Julie and Mathew so expertly weave into their text. It is very easy to get lost for hours within in its pages! It should come with a warning! It would make a perfect present for anyone you know who loves plants, is learning to use herbal remedies, or is a practicing herbalist. The sheer sumptuous beauty of this book, the twin cream and white pages, the photography, the opportunity to read Parkinson's words and to learn from Julie and Mathew makes this a treat for the heart and mind.




Nine Ladies Stone Circle. Stanton Moor


November brings many dark and dreary days but also wonderful bright sunny frost studded mornings, when there is nothing finer than to get out early, walk briskly and breathe in the clear cold air.

November is the time to dig up roots and make root tinctures. Both Dandelion roots and Burdock roots are our finest liver tonics and will cleanse the blood of toxins. Both are known as powerful blood purifiers. If you can't dig up any Burdock, it can be bought dried from herb suppliers. Pour a little cold water over the dried roots the day before you wish to use it and use 100% brandy or vodka when making the tincture.


Dandelion roots and chopped Burdock


See other November entries for Digging up and Drying Roots and Making Root Tinctures

Root Drinks

Root beers were once very popular. They are easy to make and ready in a week or two. They have the added advantage of imparting their herbal properties.

Dandelion and Burdock Beer
Burdock roots are a prime blood purifier and detoxifier. It is an alkaline and helps counteracts over-acidity. It stimulates the immune system to get rid of bacteria, toxins, viruses and tumour cells, strengthens the liver, kidneys, circulation, lungs, lymphatic and urinary systems, unblocking and detoxifying where ever they have become sluggish. It can be grown as a root vegetable but the roots are eaten in their first year only. Dandelion roots are a prime liver and lymph tonic, and a good digestive tonic.

1. Scrub two large Dandelion roots and two large burdock roots.
2. Chop them into a pan with 4 pints of water. Boil for half an hour.
3. In another pan, gently dissolve one pound of sugar in four pints of water with two tablespoons of black treacle and the juice of a lemon.
4. Strain off the roots, mix the two liquids together and leave to go tepid.
5. Then add an ounce of yeast mixed to a paste with warm water.
6. Leave to ferment in a covered bucket for three to four days, then bottle. Ready to drink after one week.

Dandelion Coffee
Worth saving any of the big roots you dig up to make into Dandelion coffee. It is easy to make, delicious to drink, and of course holds all the beneficial properties of Dandelion root.

1. Dig plants up when the soil is wet so that the long roots slide out easily. Scrub them clean and then leave them to dry out somewhere warm for a couple of days.
2. Slice them and chop them finely or rough chop in a food processor.
3. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for one or two hours on a medium to high oven with the door open. The level of roast is a mater of personal taste and the size of the pieces.
4. When cool grind them in a coffee grinder and store in a dark jar.





Below the ground, the time of root energy begins. Roots have the power to break up rock and concrete and to make soil. They grow deep, seeking the minerals and nutrients they need to grow strong. Seeds that have fallen and are covered by leaves, waiting for times to change and light to return.

The days are short now and we sense the wild edges of winter creeping in. This is the beginning of the deepest darkest part of the year. We recognise our own need to rest now, like the Earth, to slow down and adjust to a new set of conditions. It is time to finally let go of the old year, to follow the urge to withdraw, to remember who we are on the inside, reflect on the old year and dream the seeds of the future we wish to see happen.

Welcome these dark days as an opportunity to shift your focus from achieving and doing, to reflecting and assimilating all that comes to rest in you now.



Digging Up and Drying Roots
Between November and March is the best time for digging up roots. They can be dug as part of the end of autumn garden tidy up. 1. Scrub the dirt off them, dry with kitchen towel, chop them up, and put in brown paper bags. 2. Leave the roots to dry on the radiators or in a warm airy place, shaking them every few days. 3. When fully dry they can be stored in dark jars or fresh brown paper bags. (Don't forget to label them.) 4. They can be made into herbal teas by soaking them in cold water overnight (Cold Infusion (see October)

Making Root Tinctures
Now is the best time for making root tinctures when the energy of the plant has returned to the roots. Save any good roots you dig up when gardening. Scrub them clean and cut into slices and make the tincture while they are still fresh. (80% alcohol 20% spring water). They can also be made from dried roots but soak them in water overnight first.

Bramble Root Tincture ~ Save any you might dig up as part of autumn clearing up in the garden. A general tonic, blood cleanser and diuretic. Helps with anaemia, general debility and diarrhoea. Use externally for wounds, sores, burns and scalds.

Burdock Root Tincture ~ The roots are a prime blood purifier and detoxifier. It stimulates the immune system to get rid of bacteria, toxins, viruses and tumour cells, strengthens the liver, kidneys, circulation, lungs, lymphatic and urinary systems, unblocking and detoxifying where ever they have become sluggish. Use for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. It is an alkaline and helps counteracts over-acidity. The roots can also be eaten as a vegetable.

Dandelion Root Tincture ~ Dry for decoctions or make into tincture (45% alcohol to 55% water). This is a prime liver and lymph tonic, and a good digestive tonic.

Valerian Root Tincture ~ This is best made into tincture because of its strong smell. Dig up the plants, cut off any strong white roots and then replant. A nerve tonic for mental and nervous exhaustion and anxiety. It is a mild sedative that acts as a natural tranquilizer, improving sleep without affecting the ability to remember dreams or making you feel sluggish the next day. For nervous headaches, bile dysfunctions, stomach and intestinal cramps and painful periods. It has a calming effect on the heart. A painkiller for any condition that needs the whole system to relax. This is a powerful herb that should not be used continually.



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