Midsummer, Solstice – a new chapter

This coming Sunday, 21st of June, is the day of Solstice, Litha, Midsummer. 

It is an important festive day in the Nordic countries. And, coming from Finland, I feel the urge to celebrate it too.

Midsummer this year will be a perfect moment for shedding old thought-forms and burdens…that what doesn’t serve you any longer.

fire

Here’s a suggested ceremony:

* Write down on a piece of paper the things that you want to leave behind.

* Start a fire with gratitude in your heart for the good things in your life (try to be quite specific!).

* Toss the paper into the fire and ask the element of Fire to transform the old and useless things that were a burden into ashes – food for a new, more fitting manifestation of your Life.

* State your intention for the new chapter of your Life you’re stepping into.

* Thank and honour your family, friends, helpers, spiritual guides, Life and your Self…  and toast with elderflower champagne! (I tweaked the recipe slighty – less sugar, more flowers – and it’s seriously drinkable!)

elderflower

Hungry for more spiritual inspiration for Midsummer? My favourites are here and here.

Garden tour – by boat

Garden tour by boat. I tried to guess how that would be, but I failed… it was in all kinds of ways different!

We toured along small waterways between the privately owned, man-made islands in Zuid-Scharwoude in a long, open boat with a motor. What a relaxed way to tour! We got on land at three locations – three very different gardens, with their characteristic creators. Although none of the visited gardens were concentrated on edible or healing plants, I did enjoy the garden talk with the other participants and got all inspired!

Here’s a little photo impression. (The first six photos come from the garden of  Leo Koolen Floral Design)

 

clematis oriental2 at Leo Koolen Floral Design oriental at Leo Koolen Floral Design   decoration at Leo Koolen Floral Design succulents at Leo Koolen Floral Design pond at Leo Koolen Floral Designrose Westerlandgreenhouse

End of April, end of May

garden

Part 1: the future food forest/healing garden in Spring

Oh my goodness! Thanks to school vacations and some arranging, we got to stay for 2 weeks at our place in France. The grass was high again, above my knees, and I was curious how all the plants were doing. After clearing paths – also ‘on the land’! – it got easier to move around and plant the new-comers (yes, there’s still room for more!) and tend to the plants that were there already. The appletrees were blooming when we got there, and at the end of the vacation little plump roundings at the base of the now withered flowers told me the bees had done their thing – thank you!

fieldpathsbeehive

…Which brings us to the next subject: the beehive! After following a series of lectures about biodynamic beekeeping I was ‘stung’ – I wanted to provide honeybees a place to live in, and hope they’d love the healing garden as much as I do! The dream is some years old already, but this year I thought it might be time to take action. And now the top bar hive is standing! You can see it also in the first picture, on the right side of the field. I had made some swarm lure with beeswax and lemongrass essential oil, and our son wrote the name of this new object, “beehive” (in Dutch) with the swarm lure on it. I was secretly hoping to find and catch a swarm, but that turned out to be a daydream – no swarms to be seen.

 

apple cherrykiwi

But back to the fruit… Apple, pear, cherry, currants, kiwi, grapes, plums, blueberries and wild strawberries were merrily on their way. The fig tree was grumpy after my pruning session with it and showed it by being very, very late with coming out with leaves. The nut trees were looking kind of promising as well, all except the tiny new walnut tree which was struggling for life – its roots are not so deep yet and the grass around it gets tall, it’s easily getting overgrown. I cleared grass around it, mulched more than ever before and wished him/her well.

Newcomers included Schisandra, a pear tree, a plum tree (bought when I didn’t know how many plum trees we already had…and since it was tiny, it grew in a pot in our garden in Amsterdam for one summer), purple grapes , Sichuan pepper, the tiny silk tree (against my norm I took it with me already – because it wanted to…), winter savory and oregano. I also sowed lots, fingers crossed we’ll have more success than a year ago.

hawthorn  lilacIn between gardening, cooking and all that, there were moments of pure enchantment. Just standing with a plant, marveling its beauty, having a little chat with it.

And upon moving again, I’d scare the calves, grazing in the neighboring field. Eventually they got used to me and go on about their thing, together with their mama’s.

cows

 

Part 2: back in Amsterdam

And one returns to everyday life. And finds ones’ garden transformed!

sweetscented bedstraw  shadow garden

The bright, light early spring garden had ‘popped’ into late spring in just two weeks. All kinds of magical places to be found, here, in our little city garden!

 

hawthornhawthorn

I’m utterly, totally, fully in love with Hawthorn. It’s blossomed in France, and here in Amsterdam so luxuriously abundant! I had picked and dried some hawthorn berries last autumn and decided to tincture them. A week later I had a mad, last-minute dash into the woods to pick flowers and leaves too, to make a fully balanced hawthorn tincture. Just because you never know who might need it. The former remedies have helped here and there too, and being so obsessed with a plant is there for a reason, I believe.

 

cookies

And since I replenished our stash of dried nettles with fresh ones this vacation, I used the remains of the nettles of last year to make cookies (and I can’t stop nibbling them…). I used this recipe (scroll down the post for ‘parmesan cream crackers’) and substituted most of the cheese for nettles and used whole grain flour and spelt flour.

The herbal adventure goes on, accompanied by nature spirits and some cool healing techniques. Thanks for reading!

 

Nest

The blackbirds singing in our garden is my favourite music. And now, we have this in our kiwi!

Thank you for nesting under my sons window, Mama Blackbird!

nest

The hilarity of visualisation

During my herbalism-studies I’m always taking notes about plants I wished I had, and why. One of them was Albizia julibrissin Rosea, or the Persian Silk Tree.

persian silk tree
image source: Wikipedia

This plant is amazing! It is *beautiful*, it’s a great nectar tree for bees and butterflies, the seeds can be fed to livestock (I still need to check on that…) and it is medicinal (anti-depressant, sleep-inducing).

It is cold tolerant (can survive temperatures down to -25 degrees Celcius) and it folds its leaves in at night – it’s common name here in the Netherlands translates as “Persian sleep-tree”.

So who wouldn’t want to have such a beautiful, multi-facetted wonder tree in their garden? I do! So much that I was seeing it – with my minds’ eye –  blooming and attracting bees in the healing garden, radiating its silent blessings to its immediate surroundings. I was over the moon to find it in a webshop here in the Netherlands and ordered it (along with another long-time love, Schisandra).

When I unpacked it I actually asked myself “what’s this?” for a second or two before I burst into laughing – the contrast between my visualised wondertree and the young sapling I held in my hands couldn’t have been greater.

 

this tender twig in the center of the photo is my magical wondertree - as a baby
this tender twig in the center of the photo is my magical wondertree – as a baby

Life has a great sense of humor!