Wednesday, 18 July 2012


Over the choppy seas to Jersey the land of glorious gardens.  Plants fall over every wall, almost tropical in their nature and abundance.

Neanderthal Men inhabited Jersey's caves about 100,000 years before Christ and the Iberians of about 2,000 B.C. left seven Dolmens or chamber tombs. Its had a right old time of occupation and changing hands and was French speaking until the turn of last century. 

Jersey’s been through the wars literally, it was the last stand point of German occupation in the 2nd world war. 

With its miles of beaches, amazing rocks, luscious north coast and majestic castles poking out into the water its somewhere I was loving hanging out.

Wild carrot and fennel were abundant on the coastal spots, too early for the seed harvest, its definitely worth a visit in September.  Local orchids, yarrow in swathes, and one of the finest herb garden in Europe.

‘Wild carrot seed is one of the oldest forms of contraception, used in large doses it is reputed to make your womb slippery.  Mrs Grieves has a boit more to say about it here An infusion of the whole herb is considered an active and valuable remedy in the treatment of dropsy, chronic kidney diseases and affections of the bladder. The infusion, made from 1 OZ. of the herb in a pint of boiling water, is taken in wineglassful doses. Carrot tea, taken night and morning, and brewed in this manner from the whole front, is considered excellent for a gouty disposition. A strong decoction is very useful in gravel and stone, and is good against flatulence. A fluid extract is also prepared, the dose being from 1/2 to 1 drachm.
The seeds are carminative, stimulant and very useful in flatulence, windy colic, hiccough, dysentery, chronic coughs, etc. The dose of the seeds, bruised, is from one-third to one teaspoonful, repeated as necessary. They were at one time considered a valuable remedy for calculus complaints. They are excellent in obstructions of the viscera, in jaundice (for which they were formerly considered a specific), and in the beginnings of dropsies, and are also of service as an emmenagogue. They have a slight aromatic smell and a warm, pungent taste. They communicate an agreeable flavour to malt liquor, if infused in it while working in the vat, and render it a useful drink in scorbutic disorders.’

The gardens at Samares were created in the nineteen twenties by millionaire shipping magnate and philanthropist, Sir James Knottwere.  They were in full bloom when we got there; globe artichokes, lavenders, lots of mint varieties, lemon verbena, summer savory (really anisidy flavour).  Vervain, valerian, southernwood…

We use lavender in our digestive delight Liver Cleanse.  Its calming for the gut as well as the nerves, is antifungal and uplifting to the spirits.  We can’t sell our product direct online anymore but you can call us or email for a consultation if you think you’d benefit.

I couldn’t resist a yarrow harvest while I was there.  So abundant and fragrant.  There was even a few sprigs of the lesser spotted pink yarrow flowers.

Yarrow is our all time best childhood fever remedy.  It literally takes a fever down in minutes.  I’ve used it with my daughter since she was just a few weeks old and have never used a drop of calpol in her life.

We hung out with fab family, ziggy looked for crabs in the vast rockpools (the tide goes out for miles), I swam in the sea, benny kayaked, we all rock was a well needed mid season escape for a week or so.

Refreshed and restored after a rainy week…ready to head off on tour to sunny Cornwall!  Surya yoga camp and Holi fair here we come...

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Boring Politics

So after studying a 4 year degree towards natural healthcare and herbal medicine Fiona and I started our company Sensory Solutions -We went out and picked the plants astrologically and made beautiful remedies, then found nice bottles and good talented designers to help us package them up to look wonderful and to celebrate all that is nature.

We knew that the powers that be were working on safeguarding the public from dangers and that one day in the future we would be contacted and told it was now illegal for us to supply folks with our remedies unless we did a face to face consolation with them...... that day has come. Our remedies must say goodbye to public life and live in the shed. We honestly feel confused. I our hearts we really want to help people that need decent healthcare, we have the knowledge and the capabilities to effect peoples lives and to help them on their personal health journeys. There are some other people out there that seriously hate us, want us to disappear, go up in smoke. It is 2012 and there is a witch hunt raging, traditional independant midwives and herbalists are being driven out of mainstream culture and more and more drugs are being introduced.

So what do we do? Can it be challenged? Do we lay down, do we run away to lands where is it cheaper and easier to live off grid? Do we change careers and become coffee shop managers? All very confusing and a waste of time and energy.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Roses got my Heart Singing

It is the height of summer and in between the showers the balmy scent of the rose is calling me like never before.

I have had a connection with her from a young age as my grandmother loved her rose garden. My first concoctions were crushing smooth, pale peach, petals for rosewater potions. I remember feeling slightly cheated as the petals browned and lost their beauty over time.

Roses have a long and colorful history. They have been symbols of love, beauty, war, and politics.

This year I seem to be re connecting with her on a very deep level, hardly a plant I pass without needing to go have a chat, sniff and stroke. I have been amazed at the sheer diversity of roses growing in my little village alone. . In nature, the genus Rosa has some 150 species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and then there are the entire hybrid created for our gardens, apparently there are over 30,000 varieties leading to the most complicated family tree of any known flower species. Garden cultivation of roses began some 5,000 years ago, in Asia. She truly is an ancient ancestor, according to fossil evidence aging her at 35 million years old.

Included in her vast family Rosacea are hawthorns, Apples, plums, raspberries and Ladies mantle to name a few, most having astringent cooling qualities as medicines.

The rose is a rose,
And was always a rose.
But now the theory goes
That the apple's a rose,
And the pear is, and so's
The plum, I suppose.
The dear only knows
What will next prove a rose.
You, of course, are a rose--
But were always a rose. –

by Robert Frost 1874-1963

There has been one rambling rose with pinky peach petals that has been attracting me; she sits on the corner of a valley on our walk to and from school. So enticing in her magic, we have been late a few times. She has been teaching us the joy of being soft, delicate and approachable with clearly marketed boundaries, over step them and you’ll get a sharp reprimand!

Rosa Heartspetal we call her and in spirit she is the elderly midwife, who has seen and birthed so much with generosity and kindness, never taking any nonsense, full of gifts of nurture and infinate knowledge.  

Her delicate petals perfectly heart shaped in our native Dog Rose (Rosa canina) providing real heart support, cooling anxieties and steadying the nerves. We make a tincture out of the petals, roses are under the domain of Venus so a Friday (ruled by Venus) around the full moon, so that all the energies of the plant are up in the ariel parts, we harvest the petals on a dry bright day, filling a jar to the brim with the petals, asking or setting intentions for what the medicine can gift us then covering with good quality vodka, we then leave it in a cool place for a lunar cycle to brew. Strain out the petals and you are left with a Powerful brilliant Rose Petal tincture.

We have long used her sexy, deep red, fruits, the rosehips to make syrups pack with valuable nourishment in the form of vitamins  & minerals, tasting delicious. The content of ascorbic acid/Vitamin C in hips is ten times more than in blackcurrant, 50 times more than in lemon and 100 times more than in apples.

There have been plenty of studies documenting how the hips have given numerous folks relief from Arthritis. And we use Tinctures and powders for this and also heart conditions very effectively.

One of our favourite remedies are our Drops of Love made from – rose tincture, rosehip syrup and peppermint tincture mixed together…

These beautifully cooling and centring drops gently nourish and support the nervous and digestive systems. 

Peppermint helps to clear a fuzzy head and calm digestion thus aiding the free-flow of all mental processes. The word "mint" derives from the Latin for thought. 

Rose has an amazing history as symbol of mystical or divine love. It is used here for its uplifting, calming properties. The binding nature of the tannins found in rose gives the potential for containment of nervous energy and erratic patterns. 

The delicious, nourishing rosehip syrup is made from the wild dog rose. Its vastly nutritious make-up provides a wonderfully nurturing support system for the whole body, mind and spirit.

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Final Weekend - for now!

Our Forth and Final weekend of the First year of our Apprenticeship was focused on the Element Fire and the qualities of Flowers – and how beautiful were those delicate pink and pale apple blossoms that we tinctured?  They looked so incredibly prefect. We made Apple Blossom Brandy, infused with each individuals intentions which was what ever they personally intuited from our abundant, giving and open Apple friend. It was humbling to think of how supported we have all been through our lives by this Fruiting Tree - How many Apples have you eaten in your life??

We started the weekend with a hilarious trip out to the prestigious Chelsea Physic gardens dressed as Herbs! – We had Pictish Blue Woad, Bandaged Comfrey, Hatted princely Chamomile, Porn Star Nettle, Refined Linnen clad Flax, Seedy Poppy, Unforgettable Forget-me-not, Frothy Meadowsweet and Nutty Fly Argaric toadstools to name a few. We were shown around by Anne, who explained a little of the history of this brilliant place. London’s oldest botanic garden, Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for the purpose of training apprentices in identifying plants. It subsequently became one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world. It now houses an impressive collection of medicinal plants, many which are the beginning of Pharmaceutical drugs.

Back at Base, We spent a morning dissecting, drawing and marveling over the diversity in the flowers of our native plants. Tiny, perfectly designed fragrant beauties…white dead nettle, comfrey, daisy…

We then honed in on immunity and the lymphatic system and took a wander to see what was out n about that could be used in the treatment of coughs. We made honey Daisy syrup from those fairy princess folk, breath easy tea from herbs collected in the past few months and Ache Ease balm from a combination of everyone’s horseradish and comfrey oils.  Bags were a jangling as people left with additions to their medicine cabinates.

Our red-hot chilli Saturday night culminated in the Hokie Cokie around the fire and a few verses of Lily the Pink –our anthem.

We shared in all the fab work that's been produced in the amazing sketch, scrap, journal, art books.  It was astounding the love and care that has gone into these beautiful creations...ready for you all to carry on your herbal work.

We want to thank all of you partakers for making this past year’s Apprenticeship possible –it has been an amazing learning curve for us and a truly unforgettable experience. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Sensory Herbcraft Apprenticeship...3rd wichin' weekend

The 3rd weekend of our sensory Herbcraft apprenticeship was based around the element of water –we focused on the urinary system and the detoxification herbal tea consisting of freshly plantain, nettle, yarrow, cleavers and dandelion kept us all flowing freely!

Everyone had detoxed themselves for the week prior to the course so we chatted a while about how incredibly difficult unstructured or planned Detoxing can be also about cravings and the lack of decent food in the shops.

We started the weekend with a hot horseradish recap and after eating a few crackers with horseradish sauce and taking a few squirts trying out the differing tinctures of horseradish Dan’s cough disappeared. We had diminished numbers, as Hattie and Janice were sadly ill in bed –sending loads of love from everyone in the group.

We used the element of water to cleanse ourselves on saturday morning...leaves and water free flow careful with emotions while we go. 

Saturday was potion tastic, it saw the creation of nettle iron tonics and spring green vinegars, pick pick, chop chop, glug glug. Amazing drawings of leaves were produced, leaves from our detox tea, so green and vibrant and all so different in structure and taste...

Saturday night, music and sharing...where are we at, where do we want to go?  How far inside us have the herbs reached?  Open, honest, funny, emotional chatting.

Sunday we spent time thinking about the digestive system, dandelion root, rosemary and milk thistle.  Carminatives of fennel, peppermint and chamomile.

We also homed in on our pragmatic mothering comfrey...flexible to a point with her clear boundaries, an abundance of children but likes to stay put lest she should wither in a new environment...and she wares wax jackets...but they're from Millets!

A watery, flowing, loving weekend was had.  It's so clear how far everyone has come, and yes it felt easier and we had slowed it down, but the apprentices have absorbed so much.  Their are complex concepts that are now like second nature to them...well done you fantastic folk.

Bring on Chelsea Physic Gardens and our plant costumes!!!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Eucalyptus Honey

On a hunt for Nettle tips at Kingston Maurward in Dorchester we came across some really majestic Eucalypti trees - and noticed these amazing little buds shaped like knobbly stars -if you remember the game Jacks, they were a bit like those. We tasted one and the essential  oil content was very noticeable as perfumed juices hit our senses-then came a strong refrigerant effect and as we breathed deeply felt our airways really open. Very pleasant and lovely.The eucalyptus plant contains several chemicals, including eucalyptrin, hyperoside, quercetin, quecitrin, tannins, and associated acids. The primary constituent of the volatile oil is eucalyptol (1,8-cineole).

We pick a few and some leaves and brought them home for chopping and adding to some lovely local honey.

I goggled the buds and found that the trees are -Eucalyptus gracilis -

It is said that the Eucalyptus tree is one of the most useful trees in the world, belonging to the Myrtacea family –same as the Tea Tree. A tall water loving tree is also one of the fastest growing trees in the world  

Eucalyptus trees have always been part of my Materia medica as I often burn the essential oil when anyone has any respiratory infection as it is antibacterial, decongestant and stimulate the immune system. I have also made teas from brewing up the fresh leaves but this honey we'd made is amazing -

It was Baron Ferdinand von Müller, the German botanist and explorer, who made the qualities of  Eucalyptus known all over the world. He was the first to suggest that the perfume of the leaves resembling that of Cajaput oil, might be of use as a disinfectant in fever districts..

The rapidly growing Eucalyptus trees are now largely cultivated in many temperate regions with the view of preventing malarial fevers.

In Sicily, also, it is being extensively planted to combat malaria, on account of its property of absorbing large quantities of water from the soil. 

Next on the agenda is trying some pine needle honey out.... I think if anyone has any pine or eucalyptus trees near- start by going and tasting the leaves/buds/flower do this really slowly with attention to your reactions -if you feel benefits or drawn to the plant - simply take home chop up and add to honey.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Imbolc Germination Workshop

Three weeks ago we held an Imbolc Germination of Seed workshop both in Herts and Somerset. We based the workshop on the Energetics of Germination of Seed, having an in depth looking at differing herbs in their new bud stages. We got ourselves some seed trays and set about planting many differing herbs and plants -we raided the kitchen and found caraway, fennel, and poppy seeds on the selves, some aduki beans and milk thistles –

Fi also germinated 2 trays of Wheat-grass to juice. We wanted the essence of the message to be creating intentions from a clear and cleansed space, and really promote the message of detoxification for clarity of thought and actions.

We opened the workshops with thought of future projects -all lit candles to welcome the light back into our lives and with the light more fire energy to help drive us forward to achieve our goals. The groups made combined intentions for the coming spring -intentions to grow and nurture projects. As the Earth around us grows and nurtures all new life at this time. We juiced greens one by one pushing the vegetation into our juicer speaking aloud our intentions and then raised a glass of delicious nutrition vibrant juice to toast the energy.

The weather turned cold literally after the first workshop, it started to snow! The insulating blanket of pure sparkling white was so magical. The world turned into a fairytale adventure.  Elektra delighted in being able to eat it, create huge snowmen and sledge. I was slightly worried about all the new growth on the plants and how they would cope with the freeze. But they seem to be doing fine....

Now 3 weeks on, the front door is ajar letting sunlight flow into the home - planting on re-potting and clearing dead out in the garden today -Spring has Sprung.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Plants of Warmer Climes

I have just arrived home to Blighty on this beautiful crisp clear frosty morning of Friday the 13th, from the volcanic island of Fuertaventura. 

Part of the Canary Islands,  located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara . Fuertaventura is the second biggest of the Canaries with a relatively diverse landscape, although also the least densely populated.

The first settlers are believed to have arrived here from North Africa - the word Mahorero is still used today to describe the people of Fuertaventura and comes from the ancient word 'mahos' meaning a type of goatskin shoe worn by the original inhabitants.

Fuerteventura is the oldest island in the Canary Islands dating back 20 million years to a volcanic eruption from the Canary Hotspot. The majority of the island was created about 5 million years ago and since then has been eroded by wind and weather.

The climate on Fuerteventura is pleasant throughout the year. The island is also often referred to as the island of eternal spring. The sea adjusts the temperature making the hot Sahara winds blow away from the island. The island's name in English translates as 'strong fortune' or 'strong wind'

 I have had an amazing 3 weeks exploring this interesting place and discovering new plants in barren, water absent habitats. There has been no rain at all this year in the past the rainy season is from Nov- Feb but the last 7 years the rainfall has been getting less and less.  Now the old reservoirs are the greenest places on the island with mini forests growing!

There are many rare plants on the island that are on a endangered list –most impossible to find outside of the canary islands because of the incredible habitat.

One of the main exporters of Aloe Vera –the island host perfect conditions for this valueable plant medicine –

The name Aloe Vera or True Aloe probably stems from the Arabic word Alloeh meaning "Shining bitter substance". We still refer to "bitter aloes" describing the laxative drug still listed in thePharmacopoeias of today. This drug was made from the sap of the plant found under the hard green rind. It contains mainly aloin, chemically an anthraquinone, which has been known since ancient times to possess very powerful purgative action if used neat.

Aloe Vera has been used by mankind for several thousand years and over the centuries there have been many references to Aloe Vera in many cultures: from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, as well as in the literature of the Indian and Chinese peoples. Several famous physicians such as Pliny the Elder, Dioscorides and Galen, the father of modern medicine, who first described how the circulation worked, all used Aloe Vera as part of their therapeutic armoury.

The true Aloe has been endowed with such marvellous properties that over the years around the world it has been given many wonderful names such as Burn Plant, Medicine Plant, Wand of Heaven and Plant of Life.
The first reference to Aloe Vera in English was a translation by John Goodyew in A.D. 1655 of Dioscorides' Medical treatise De materia Medica which he wrote in AD 70-90.

Traders first brought Aloe Vera to London in 1693 and by 1843 considerable amounts were being imported to be made up into medicines. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries it remained one of the main popular prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.

Aloe has a huge range of different actions perhaps most famously for skin inflammation and burns, ulcers, digestive disturbalnces …the list goes on and on –there is also research into anti tumour activity –

and blood sugar regulation so helpful in diabetes

I loved the farm we visited and have been taking the fresh aloe juice for the past 2 weeks and using the gel on my face and body –feeling clean inside out!

Another fab sighting was the Deaths-head which feeds on members of the Solanaceae, our favourite - Datura innoxia and Nicotiana glauca which are common weeds all over the inhabited parts of the island.

I love the Islands and am looking forward to one day returning to visit Gomera……..