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Dig It! Garden Blog

Category: Herbalism

Fields of Gold: For the love of goldenrod.

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

 

Before I begin waxing rhapsodic on goldenrod (Solidago spp.), let’s get one myth buried: goldenrod is not the culprit behind the agony of late-season allergies. Though goldenrod takes the brunt of the blame, it’s an insect-pollinated plant rather than a wind-pollinated one, meaning the pollen is heavy, sticky and stays put until a pollinator goes foraging for nectar. It’s the wind-pollinated, simultaneously-blooming ragweed responsible for the miseries of hay fever. Read More

Three Herbs to Soothe the Soul

Monday, June 8th, 2020

With all of the challenges that 2020 has held for us so far, I don’t think I’ve yet to meet one person hasn’t gone through some profound, often demanding, personal challenges.

In my experience, with upheaval of any kind, there are few of us who couldn’t do with a little help. And since it’s available, where better to turn than to the natural world around us?
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Four Warming Herbs for Any Season

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

We can probably all agree that 2020 has hosted its share of challenges. And while we’ve doubtless found new ways of coping with stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, sometimes there’s nothing more comforting than invoking nostalgia.

And what is it I always say? Yup! There’s an herb for that. Read More

Five Herbs to Comfort the Heart

Monday, June 1st, 2020

I’m quite sure few would disagree that keeping a light heart has been challenging over the past few months. There are so many reasons a heart can feel troubled, either literally from illness or metaphorically from the end of a relationship, the death of a loved one, a parting of ways, or the result of disheartening current events. No matter what the circumstance, there are times when the heart—and spirit—are heavy.

Whatever the loss—emotional or physical—it can manifest itself as quite palpable, physical pain in the chest. Many of us know that emotional pain can feel just as crippling, just as real, as the pain experienced during a physical crisis of the heart. Whatever the cause, when in pain, we need time and energy to heal.

And, as I so often say—there’s an herb for that. Read More

Essential Renaissance: Five scents for a calm mind.

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Aromatherapy is the fastest way out of your head and into a more measured, peaceful place. The sense of smell is one powerful message-delivery system, allowing us to tap into a powerful fusion of smells, memory, and emotion—a phenomena you’ve probably experienced countless times.

Why does it work? First, a definition: very (very) simply, aromatherapy is the use and study of aromatic essences on one’s state of mental and physical well-being. It takes advantage of the unique way our bodies assimilate and download information carried by the volatile oils that make various substances, well, smell-able, for lack of a better term. Read More

Four Herbs for the Skincare Apothecary

Monday, May 4th, 2020

If you’re here, you’re probably interested in plants (just a lucky guess…). And while we might be a dab hand at growing them, what about brainstorming unique ways of using them? So, with that in mind, let’s talk skincare.
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A Purpose for Pine

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

“No one can look at a pine tree in winter without knowing that spring will come again in due time.” ~Frank Bolles

When food, warmth, and home are secure, we can enter deep rest and deep tranquility. We can root down, dig in, open space, and breathe. But when life is uncertain, we can still find comfort in the continuing, evergreen life represented by pines. Warming and drying like the best fire, what better time to welcome pine to back hearth than in this particular season?

Pine needles by Marta Jastrzebska on Unsplash
Photo by Marta Jastrzebska on Unsplash

Pine has been linked with survival for generations. Besides the obvious optimism inspired by its scent and color, traditionally all parts of pine have been used—from sap to bark to needles—as a pain reliever, disinfectant, antiseptic, immune tonic, nutritive, and surprising source of vitamin C. Of course, here in The Pine Tree State, conifers are not hard to find, but since pine species grow all over the country, almost anyone is within walking, hiking, or reasonable driving distance of a pine forest. Read More

Deb Soule & Healing Root Remedies

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

If you’ve been to CMBG lately, then you know that this season we’re focusing our attention on the unseen with our theme, Roots: The Other Half of the Story.

Focusing on roots gives us lots of material to play with, and as a gardener and an herbalist, roots comprise both one of my favorite subjects and some of my favorite remedies. Why? Look at it this way—if roots serve as both larder for and custodian of their plants, imagine what they could do for our own network of systems.

In this opinion I’m certainly not alone—herbalists have long valued roots as both food and medicine. Herbalist Deb Soule, author, owner of Avena Botanicals, and a favorite teacher here at CMBG, talks beautifully about the subject in her latest book, How to Move Like a Gardener, a love note to the garden, the soil, and the magic and medicine that grows within it. Read More

The Many Wonders of the Elder Plant (Sambucus nigra and Canadensis)

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Let me introduce you to elder, one of my favorite herbs of all time. Not only is this herb incredibly diverse, it’s also just plain beautiful (by the by, elderberries, if you didn’t know, make the most fabulous blue-purple dye).


Sambucus canadensis ‘Aurea’ Golden American Elderberry

Most people think elder plants are trees, but technically they’re shrubs. They tend to grow wild all along the East Coast, and even as far inland as the Central Plains. Here in Maine, you can probably just scavenge the surrounding woodlands for elder—if you know what you’re doing, you’ll find elder everywhere. In June and July, look for fragrant white flowers growing in flat, star-like clusters. The deep purple-black, blue, or dark red berries arrive in late summer. The stems are greenish brown and, when broken, reveal a white pith. Leaves grow opposite one another and have an uneven number of leaflets (usually 5 to 11). I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you to be sure you’re confident identifying elder before you go picking berries, or that you need permission if you’re not on your own land. Read More

For the Love of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Perhaps we might be inclined to think of dandelions as weeds first and (maybe) as herbs second. But since, by definition, all herbs are weeds. But dandelions are more than just weeds (or herbs). More often than not, they’re the first flower of spring, and so hold a special place, both for the eye and for our body’s “spring cleaning” process.

Spring cleaning is an unwavering urge that comes over us as soon as the days start to lengthen—it’s definitely time to dust away the darkness of winter. The same applies to our bodies. During the cold months we conserve energy and naturally slow down; evolutionarily speaking, we just don’t get inspired to really move during the winter. Our metabolism slows down to conserve energy, food and warmth, so the detoxing organs (the liver and kidneys) get a little sluggish, too.

We can think of the urge to clean house as a manifestation of what’s going on inside our bodies—our winter-logged systems want that same kind of airing out. Enter dandelion, which helps support the body as it rids itself of stored metabolic wastes. Read More