Monthly Archives: September 2012

Stripping leaves

When I spend time doing stuff with herbs – as I did last Sunday, finally taking down some great bunches of Lemon Balm that were drying over the cupboard to take off the leaves and crumble them into jars, and pressing out some vinegar that had Meadowsweet infusing in it – I have a delicious feeling like being a child again, sitting in the dust stripping leaves off stems or piling dried leaves into heaps, or gathering together pods… it’s like a feeling of doing something utterly meaningless, yet so methodical, in the face of all the stuff there is in the earth – after all, how many leaves are there, and nuts (not to mention everything else, ha) – but even so, I’m rescuing some meaning from the wilderness of infinity by collecting and distilling these few bits of the mass, for a future purpose. Anyhow, it feels peaceful and a perfect thing to do on a sunny late-summer September Sunday. I like the motion and how it makes me go into quiet lines – an internal visual blur, merry waves of greenness and enticing delicate smells infusing into everything… hmmm this sounds like a little planty trip haha.

Emerging from tripping and stripping, our first workshop at The Mill is tomorrow! Eeek but exciting – the first step into sharing herbs with people. We’ll do some tea tastings in the way of the Scottish School in Glasgow, where I first learnt to sit and imbibe the erbs and discover what they do. I’m glad Charm is with me doing this. Is gonna be good! Reports on these workshops to follow…

Herbal Medicine Workshops

Hello all, an update on Hedge Herbs’ first workshop series.

Workshops commence on Saturday 22nd September, 2-3.30pm (5 weeks course). They will be led by Rasheeqa Ahmad of Hedge Herbs but I’m now joined by fellow herbalist and nutritionist Charm Elakil, also Walthamstow-based and a cheery addition to the course, bringing her own special skills in gardening and making delightful concoctions…

The workshops will cover the following areas and will also be open to participants’ interests so if you have any particular herb favourites or ideas you want to explore – bring them to the table!

- Ideas and approaches of herbal medicine practice

- Its role in today’s world and its relations with orthodox medicine

- What herbs we can find, gather, cultivate here in east London, and when their seasons are

- Herb actions, applications and energies – using plants for our health and in illness

- What kinds of preparations we can make with herbs, what they are valuable for (including practical session)

- Lots of herb exploring: looking, smelling, tasting, eating, drinking!

If you’re interested in joining, contact me on 07784 506 494 or email

Workshops will run at The Mill in Walthamstow – 7-11 Coppermill Lane, E17 7HA – you can also drop in there to book a place, or ring them on 020 85213211.

Hope to see you there!


Walking on Otley Chevin, the rosehips are coming. Late summer in Yorkshire – not as golden as other times! ha – but still lovely. Friend Heather introduces me to the invasive Himalayan Balsam, long swathes of bright pink beaconing to the moorland opposite our path. The seed pods (which are also not quite ready) uncurl explosively like a crazy jack in the box, flinging white and black seeds all over so that you see why it invades, and leaving a gorgeous sculptural spiral shape behind in your fingers. There’s some power in those pods, you can feel the springforce against your fingers like a shock, Heather says you only have to touch them to activate it when they are fully ripe… and the seeds are yummy nutty oaty flavour, apparently you can make a tahini with them (note, the white unripe ones are tastier, the black popping out ones are bitter). I suppose you would need to pop a fair amount o pods for a tahini… here are some other recipes…