Welcome to Hill Country Herbalist

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris) beginning to bloom

I am so excited. Today, I came home to see my Self Heal plant beginning to bloom. Tiny bluish purplish flowers are opening. Self Heal has long been used as a wound healing herb. People have used the fresh crushed leaf in cleaning and healing cuts and wounds. It has been used internally to assist with diarrhea and hemorrhoids since it has astringent properties. It's also been gargled with to relieve sore throats. I think it would make a marvelous toner paired with raspberry leaves.

Reference: David Hoffmann's The New Holistic Herbal.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Raspberry Leaves

In one of the gardens I'm growing raspberries. They've practically taken over and if the leaves weren't so beneficial I might not be so tolerant. After harvesting some leaves, I dehydrated and ground them. Once grounded, the plant material is soft and spongy. It's very pillow like and took the shape of the container I measured it in. You can see how it kept the shape as I introduced it to the jar I placed it into. I filled this jar with EVOO where it will sit in my sunny window sill for the next two weeks.
Having dried raspberry leaves around the house is a good thing for making teas, as well. The tea is said to be beneficial for toning the uterus and for helping with problem skin. People have also given the tea to children who are suffering from diarrhea. It is said to also help sooth inflammation in the intestines. The leaves have great astringent properties making it an ideal ingredient in facial toners.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Prickly Poppies and Thistles

Seems like the fields of flowers are brutally interrupted by sporadic long prickly plants that create chaos in the natural flow of the wildflower fields. To me, the tall unkempt look of the prickly poppy and thistle is an indication of the beginning of warmer days and summer grasses. Soon, our low growing wildflowers will be consumed by the grasses. As sad as this is, I'm taking note and will be harvesting leaves from beneficial wildflowers and encouraging them to set their seed for a wonderful show next year.

Prickly Poppy is native to Mexico and southwest US. I read it was historically used by natives to assist with reducing fevers and inflammation. It's said the sap can be used to assist with cold sores and blemishes and people have used petals to treat coughs and chest congestion. I'm not using prickly poppy in my products - just thought I'd share what people have used it for. I would definitely do more research before exploring the properties of this plant. It seems like a plant to take very seriously and not abuse.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Cleavers

Our special winter herbs are fading as we enter late Spring and begin to enjoy longer warmer days. Pictured here is the very plant that graciously gave of itself and helped me create a Cleavers lotion and a Cleavers tonic for lymphatic cleansing. I will miss this dear plant, but as I let it go to seed....I know our friendship will be rekindled as the days become shorter and colder this coming winter. Until we meet again dear Cleavers...

Mid April Garden

It rained again today. The garden just adores the Spring rains. Here are some pictures I took this evening. Pictured left to right: Self Heal (Prunella Vulgaris), Violet, and a portion of the herb and rose garden. In the foreground of the garden there is thyme, basil, lavender and of course roses. I am cultivating about 18 antique roses right now. This is my first hand at cultivating self heal and violets. Both are very nutritive and healing for the skin. Violet leaves are high in vitamin K and I'm developing a way to utilize this heart leafed plant into a personal care product.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chocolate Mint and Evening Primrose

I harvested chocolate mint today from the garden. I made a mint tincture (1:2 parts vodka) and I am dehydrating the rest to make an oil infusion for future use in creams and lotions. I think it is very invigorating and stimulating and it is said to be a circulation promoter. I also think it will smell delicious in lotions.

Also harvested today: Evening Primrose (pictured). I'm dehydrating the stems, leaves and flowers. Evening Primrose (flower) is said to be very soothing and relaxing and may help with headaches. I have read it has been used for aiding in circulation, relieving PMS, and acne as well. I plan on using this in my lotions. It is a beautiful flower and especially appreciated when seen up close. The veining in the petals suggests it is great for blood flow and circulation.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today in the Garden

Today we are enjoying a beautiful Spring rain. It is so wonderful to have such a gentle transition to Spring. Last year, we transitioned directly into a dry summer it seems. This Spring lends itself to a plethora of gardening opportunities. Here are pictures of what's growing in the Hill Country Garden, or Basil's Garden named after Basil the cat. In raised beds there are grape vines as well as onions, tomatoes, peppers and basil. Also growing, amongst other herbs, is Bee Balm (pictured). I plan on harvesting the leaves for a special salve and lotion I'm developing. Well, I'm off to have rain drops fall on my head and to see what else is poking up ready to say hello!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Verbena (Vervain) Loving Spring

The Verbena has never been so happy here in the Hill Country. Cheery purple flowers celebrate Spring!

Lotion Feedback

Well, the "experiment" went well - I'm pleased to say. The Cleavers lotion is very nutritive and healing for the hands - and any other parts of the body for that matter. Made with olive oil and Aloe Vera it's no wonder how well it heals. People are reporting back that it saves their most dry irritated hands. I noticed how well it is absorbed and that the skin still feels (and looks) nourished and soft after several hand washings ....making this a perfect lotion for people in the healing field or for people whose hands need healing. I'm really pleased with this little lotion. The smell is fresh and clean, the color is on the lightest side of lime, and the texture is creamy and luxurious. It's good enough to eat!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Today In the Garden

What a wonderful way to spend the weekend! Watching the wildflowers grow and bloom. It truly is a beautiful and unique Spring here in the Hill Country. There are flowers that have appeared that I've never seen before. Just beautiful. Here a few pictures of some plants I'm growing: wildflowers, stand of Verbena (Vervain), Cleavers voluntarily growing under Belinda's Dream rose, and Lemon Balm. Last summer, when a mosquito would bite me, I would crush fresh lemon balm leaves in my hands and directly apply to the bite. The irritation and itching went away instantly and so did the swelling. Also growing and not yet pictured: pomegranate trees, fig trees, a stand of bee balm, oregano, thyme, heirloom tomatoes, grapes, and much more. Part of the fun of making medicinals or products from plants is growing them and harvesting them - it's so rewarding there are few words to describe!

Cleavers Lotion