my mother always helps me

Last week, my son and I visited my parents for a couple of days.   They live in a small town and have a big beautiful backyard that they don’t spray and always has lots of beautiful wild plants in it!

On this trip, I made dandelion vinegar from the plants in their yard.   There’s so much growing there: lemon balm, raspberries, yarrow, rhubarb, walking onions, chives.  They have an elderberry tree that I intend to make tincture from in the fall.

All around their little town are greenspaces that aren’t sprayed so I spent some time looking around for wild plants. My dad and I harvested wild leeks one evening.  We found fiddleheads but they weren’t quite ready yet.

My best day, however, was finding several huge patches of wild violets in a forest area by a river.  SO many!

Lots and lots of violets!

I was walking with my son and my mother. My son LOVES to eat violets and so he spent the next 1 1/2 eating violets (and talking about firetrucks) while my mother helped me pick huge amounts of violets for tincture and elixir.

My mother has always aided me in my hare-brained schemes of all kinds.     I thanked her while she helped me pick violets, even though she’s not so sure about this herbal healing thing.  She still spent and hour stooped over picking tiny flowers because she’s my mother and “that’s what mothers do.” (According to her!)

Mom and my Son walking in the woods!

The other lovely thing I found in my parents backyard is this sweet motherwort plant.  I was going to just leave it there to grow but my parents are planning to re-dig that area to plant vegetables, so I transplanted it (with permission from my parents and the plant itself of course!)   I also transplanted some lemon balm (which will stay in a pot!) and a tiny tiny dandelion plant that my son says he needs medicine from.

All round a wonderful visit with many amazing plant oppourtunities!


I am still around and working on my herbal ally challenge and various other things!     I have updates that I want to make and many exciting things are happening – I just haven’t had time to sit down between vole related work, various spring things in the garden and my general other life commitments.

I will tell you though, that yesterday I had the great pleasure of going to a full moon women’s circle and it was amazing!  I reminded me how much I miss gathering and singing with other women as well as hearing women’s stories and just being in a ritual intentionally sacred space.

One of the women told us of a speaker she heard recently who begins her day by saying “I love life and life loves me!”    This morning when I woke up I tried this statement out and found myself laughing and feeling joyful!   Try it:  I love life and life loves me!

Actual updates with pictures and general motherwort excitement to follow!

vole induced hysteria

my next challenge

mother mother mother

I was finally able to take a walk this weekend by the river to find some wild motherwort plants!

First I left the male parts of my family in a muddy river bed.

Classic and messy.

Then I headed down the path near the river where I saw…

Trees chewed by beavers.    Now, this wouldn’t be such a terribly strange site, except that I live in a fair sized city and have never seen a beaver.  There were plenty of beaver chewed trees though, so they must be living nearby somewhere.

As I was walking towards the area that my friend told me there was some motherwort, I saw this graffiti:

Love youself.

And then I happened upon motherwort

Lots  of small patches, all of them very close to the main bike/walking path.

Still very close tot he ground, but definately growing now that the snow has finally (hopefully) passed for  the year.

I couldn’t find a patch that was sufficiently off the path to not be interrupted by passerby’s while meditating with it.  So, instead, I just sat down near one and drew some pictures, held gratitude for its being and generally enjoyed the sunshine.

The motherwort I saw doesn’t like to hide – it’s out in the open near the edges of paths walked by humans just waiting for someone to take notice of it’s beauty.  Love yourself. I know it’ll grow much taller and it lives near other tall plants (I saw goldenrod and a few others that I don’t know the name of, but do know that they grow tall).

I love this plant.  No shy, but not showy. Not hiding, but able to blend with the other plants nearby.

All the plants were too small to harvest from yet, but soon!     Instead I harvested some beautiful white pine needles to make pine vinegar.  And I made another preparation of wild violet tincture.   I’ve been eating SO many wild violets – our yard is very very full of them.    My son also loves to eat the purple blossoms and finds them whenever we go outside!

This week we’re going to visit my parents which means plenty of nature walks!  My dad has scouted out patchs of fiddleheads and wild leeks so hopefully we’ll be able to pick some while we’re there!

ally updates :)

Now that I finally have a camera I can make some updates with pictures of things for the challenge!

Here’s the cover of my journal

the decorated cover of my herbal ally journal

And some interior pages 🙂

As you can see I’ve been working a bit on impressions.  I decided to add pictures of my mom, me and my son into the front cover.

Also, every year on a woman named Tracy hosts a thread about making a treasure map for yourself during the aries new moon.  This year I decided to feature motherwort prominently, because I really do want to deepen alot in this challenge.

treasure map 4

You can see motherwort in the middle there. Here’s a bit of a close up.
treasure map 3

A dear friend mentioned to me that there’s some motherwort growing on a riverside path!  Hopefully I’ll be able to get down there by myself this weekend to sit with some new, wild growth of motherwort!

how exciting!

I got a used digital camera today!  And then proceeded to take like a billion pictures of everything.  I’ll put the ones about the Herbal Ally Challenge in a different post but here’s a bunch of photos of the garden!

The Vegetable Garden

A far away shot of a simple herb garden in early spring.

The Herb Garden

the early growth of the lovage plant



Early green shots of garlic


violet flowers in a small jar

Picking violets to make tincture

Our spring! altar

hearts exploding with love: wild violets

”]”A small mostly hidden purple violet in a sea of green grass

Today I was talking with a dear friend of mine about makingmaking making herbal medicines this summer.   Well…I was kind of talking at her because I’m so very excited about this summer and all the amazing possibilities of wild food, gardening, herbs and sunshine!  (I guess I’m pretty much always this excited in springtime!)   I was saying that I wanted to find a large-ish patch of wild violets to make violet tincture from (and eat the leaves and generally be in worship of these beautiful little plants).

Later in the evening, my family and I were in our yard and I was looking more closely at what was growing in the grass.   Chickweed! Dandelions!  And then I noticed, wild violets.

A whole huge patch a wild violets just about to burst into bloom!   I would have missed them if I hadn’t been making an effort to look closely at our grass!  Wild, medicinal plants in my urban yard.

I’ll make tincture this weekend if the flowers bloom (if the flowers consent to be made into medcine)!

We rent our home and our landlords are really awesome people.   They bought this house for their daughter and she lived in the upstairs apartment (we live downstairs) all last year.  She’s away this winter, but will be back soon.  She and I were planning to make a garden around the tree that the violets are next to  this year (it’s roots keep getting nicked with the lawn mower and she wants to make sure it stay healthy).   I’m hoping that I’ll be able to arrange things  with her so that the wild violets can continue to grow wehere they are!

I mentioned it to our new upstairs neighbours and one of them said “Imagine if we just let all our lawns grow, what treasures we would find!”

I feel like my heart is exploding with love for wild plants, for wildness!  And some sadness, always some sadness for the wild things.

making compost

This year one of my garden goals is to successfully make several batches of compost.  I’ve been unlucky in the past with compost (leaving piles partway finished, the landlord was more in charge and so I never got to use it) but this year!  This year I will take at least two piles of compost from start to deliciously hommus-y finish.

Our current pile has problems.  It’s not breaking down at all and smells generally unpleasent.   The research I’ve done suggests that it’s the result of too much nitrogen and not enough carbon – so I’ve begun a neighbourhood wide search for materials high in carbon – leaves, glass clippings and whatnot!   The lady next door just gave me two big bags full of leaves that she raked up (I went over to offer to rake them for her, but she had already done it!)

I think I’m going to start composting my urine as well.   I’m longing for a sawdust toilet but we live in a rented house and I suspect that both my husband and my landlords (however amazing they are) would be resistant to the idea of composting feces!  However, this article linked above from Mother Earth News has gotten me really excited about the possibility of composting just my own urine (I don’t think anyone else in my household will get on board ; )

In other news, I’m still searching for a good condition used camera to buy so that I can take some pictures to document both my explorations with motherwort and my garden!  Hopefully soon!

a very fourtunate meeting!

This morning I had a very lovely meeting with a man who has a herb farm just outside of our city (located at an amazing monastary that has a csa garden, labyrinth, living willow sculptures, an apple orchard and bees!)   He was looking for people to do work-trade for him and I applied! This morning we met and talked about what this kind of barter looks like.    I’ll be working there once a week in the summer and in return he’s going to teach me (and several other participants) about herbal medicine, growing herbs AND give us herbs and seedlings in exchange for our work.   I’m extremely excited!

Motherwort research continues – got word from the library today that two books I put holds on are in – Matthew Wood’s  Earthwise Herbal:  a complete guide to Old World medicinal plants and Susun Weed’s Healing Wise.

My local store does not stock motherwort so I may have to order some dried herb if I want to interact with the actual plant anytime soon.  I had already purchased seeds of motherwort (kind of randomly) so I think I’ll start them this weekend. There’s still LOTS of snow on the ground and so everyone is predicting a late last frost this year (maybe the second week of May…although who knows with this climate changing weather)

research 1

It’s still really very much winter in my corner of the world.   Just yesterday we got a surprise 6 inches of blowing snow and today it is -15 with the wind chill.    Green plants are still a dream right now so I won’t be going to sit with a real live motherwort plant anytime soon.

My offline little book of motherwort is taking shape, unfourtunately we have no working camera right now (although I’m planning to get one soon!) so I can’t show you the artwork yet.

I also don’t have any of the dried plant on hand – I’ll go check our local herb store the afternoon.   Field of Tansy suggests staring with infusions of the dried herb but I think that I’ll jump right into research!  I haven’t managed to make it to the grown-up section of the library this week ( my son “hasn’t got any patience!” to go to the adult section with me, which usually manifests as screaming in the quiet parts!) so this is all internet reserach, but tomorrow I hope to get some time alone in the library.

Motherwort ( lion’s tail, lion’s tongue, Mother’s Herb) is a member of the mint family (which I’ll keep in mind when it comes time to plant it later:)  It started it’s long history in Central Asia and has had a long relationship with Chinese Medicine.  In that system it is prescribed for heart health, menstural regulation and to promote longetivity.  It’s spread all around the world now, particularly in Central Europe and North America.  It’s a perennial to Zone 3.

Primarily used as a cardiac tonic which is especially obvious in it’s botanical name – leonurus cardiaca – “lion heart”.    Some of the actions I’ve seen associated with it are: emmegagogue, diuretic, astringent, anti-spasmodic, anti-rheumatic, nervine and calmative.

It’s also used for all kinds of uterus related things, in particular, for decreasing menstural cramps/PMS, for easing women into menopause, and during and after childbirth to promote healing.   It’s also suggested in several sources that it’s the “mother of the mother” – an herb to help mothers stay calm and centered during their child raising years (could I ever use that!)

I peeked into information about motherwort flower essence as well, because I have had some success with flower essences in the past – one suggested that motherwort was indicated for helping people feel a deeper sense of belonging in their family, one suggested it was “to love others as yourself”.  It is not one of the original flower essences.

The message I’m picking up from this research so far is that motherwort eases transitions and creates a comfortable place to be recieved.   Before mensturation, before and particularly after childbirth, during menopause.   And for the heart: every beat is a transition.

Easing of transitions. Softening the shift.

And then there’s things like this: “What is also so interesting about Motherwort is that it often treats heart health issues in women, but is not as effective for men. Nature is so clever and gifted to know the intricate differences between a man and a woman’s heart…” <source>

Mothwort Tincture: A video with Susun Weed

10 Reasons to Love Motherwort: by Kiva Rose

Motherwort: by Dandelion Revolutin