Lesser celandine

Lesser celandine, Ranuculus ficaria syn Ficaria verna, Grán Arcáin in Irish or ‘Piglet’s Grain’. One of the first flowers of the Spring, they are appearing at the edges of paths, besides streams, damp areas, on roadsides and beside hedgerows all over the country. They are very widespread and often go unnoticed, they are low-growing, up to…

Summer Roadside Wildflowers

Meadowsweet and Great Willow-herb A triumvirate of beautiful herbs that are visible very often together around the countryside on roadsides, hedgerows, marshland, meadows, edges of boreens and fields in Ireland at the moment are meadowsweet, great willow-herb and valerian. When I was younger I often wondered what they were as we were stacking and bringing…

Bees

Bumblebee gathering nectar from a borage flower There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees, they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Bees are adapted to gather nectar and pollen from flowers. Nectar is a sweet substance, produced by some plants to attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, bats etc. Bumblebee gathering nectar from…

Self-heal

Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris) Self-heal is a beautiful, small, perennial plant with really pretty, dainty two-lipped bluish, violet coloured flowers, which are in bloom in Ireland now. It is very common and appears from June to September/October. It’s leaves, some of which have a red tinge to them, grow opposite to each other on a square…

What is the story with brown grass???

As I travel around Ireland I have noticed brown patches of grass, especially outside some homes, farms, businesses and public places grass with is uniformly brown and dead, dead but still in situ. I realise of course that it has been sprayed with some herbicide, probably Roundup or some other very nasty chemical based killer….

Elderflower

Taking over from Hawthorn in the Irish hedgerows, the flowers of the elder tree, Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra) are coming into bloom right now. The elder tree was prized for its many uses: culinary, medicinal and mystical. Both the flowers and berries of the elder can be used to make wine. One can also make a…

Plantain herb

There are two types of plantain herbs, ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) which has narrow leaves and greater or broadleaf (Plantago major). Ribwort plantain Greater plantain Plantain plants grow everywhere, and can even grow between cracks in footpaths. The Native Americans called plantain “white man’s footprint” because it came on, and grew from the settler’s footwear. The…

Cuckoos and Cuckooflowers

These mornings I am lucky to wake to the sound of the cuckoo, (Cuculus canorus), Cuach in Irish, a summer visitor to Ireland, from central or south Africa. It is a dove-sized bird, with a sleek body, long tail and pointed wings, similar to a kestrel or sparrowhawk, especially when in flight. The male makes…

Herbs for Bones

Six months ago, my then six-year-old son fell off a set of monkey bars at the park and broke his elbow. As soon as I saw it, my nursing instinct said to get him to the emergency room fast as his arm was either dislocated or broken, and we’d need X-rays to tell. It was,…… via…

Magnesium

There’s a good reason magnesium is often called “The Magic Mineral” – it plays a crucial role in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, impacting everything from energy metabolism and stress management to hormone balance, detoxification, sleep, and the creation of proteins. (source) Years ago, I discovered it was the key to resolving my…

Mayflower

Hawthorn trees (Crataegus laevigata), Sceach Gheal in Irish, also called Whitethorn are in flower at the moment, providing a beautiful white boundary amongst the hedgerows around green fields all over Ireland. It is described as a bush or a small tree and has beautiful white flowers (important for bees and other insects) and lobed leaves….

Making Homemade Wholemeal Sourdough Starter and Bread

I started off with equal volumes of organic wholewheat flour and non-chlorinated water, in a bowel, stirred using a wooden spoon until combined. I covered this and left it in the kitchen overnight Every day I added approximately equal volumes (similar to the initial amount) of flour and water – I didn’t weigh anything At…