Monday, 26 September 2011

Recipe for Autumn Potpourri

Pine Cones
growers box
On my walks in Autumn I collect seeds from trees and flowers to make an autumn potpouri. This year I have collected pine cones, horse chestnut, sweet chesnut seed cases, acorns, sycamore & maple seeds, beech masts, poppy seed pods.... I only take a few from each place leaving the rest for the animals, birds and insects that need them for food during the winter.

I dry herbs leaves and flowers on a muslin screen made from an old picture frame. Each herb  or flower I dry separately so that the scent is pure. Some are stored for use in winter cooking the rest are used in potpourri. To the seeds, herbs and flowers I put together a mix of spices.

This potpourri will cleanse a room and fill it with a sweet, relaxing scent.  The cost is very little if you collect the seeds, grow and dry your own herbs. If you live in Urban area the parks are a full of seeds which you can gather.  If you haven’t the  herbs leaves  I recommend you go to a Chinese store where there are usually large packs of dried herbs leaves, flowers and all the spices you need at very reasonable prices.

Here is my recipe I am using for this years potpourri.

To seeds from trees and flowers I add dried herbs:

Peppermint leaves

Sage leaves

Rosemary leaves

Lemon balm leaves

Scented geranium leaves

Wild Bergamot leaves

Lemon verbena leaves

I add dried flowers:

Pot marigold



Chamomile flowers


Lime flowers

Rose petals


The Spice guys

whole cloves

Cinnamon sticks (broken)

Nutmeg grated

Coriander seeds crushed

Cardamom crushed

Star anise whole

Dried orange and lemon peel

This mix looks wonderful in a glass bowl you can layer the ingredients of just tumble them in to the bowl.  when the nights draw in even more I will take some of the mixture and put it in a plastic bag with a cuttle fish bone (you can get it from a pet store)  which has had a few drops of  essential oil on it,  I like pine.   Leave it in the bag for two or three weeks for a even more delightfully scented potpourri.  As  Christmas draws near I will dip some cones and seeds into gold, silver paint or glitter to add that festive touch.  I just love glitter and sparkle at Christmas

Last years potpourri I will burn some in my fire  at Sumhuinn -  all Souls day on the 1st November  and all Saints day the Second of November.  I will burn the rest during Yule time,

With Reiki blessings and light
Merry B

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Autumn Equinox - Alban Elfed

It was a lovely day on Friday, Pops and I went for a meandering walk to my allotment. We walked for an hour and then went into St. James Green dog park where Pops met up with her friend Luke. She had a lovely time, running and chasing balls while I stood with a a group of dog owners  enjoying the warmth of  the sun as we watched our dogs play.   Pops and the other dogs had such a sense of joy to be with each other it made us all smile and laugh.

Pops and I then went to allotment.  It was very peaceful there.  I looked around and saw that it was time to take down the bean poles and compost what was left of the beans. As I cleared the beans away green shield bugs tumbled out, huge garden spiders crawled away and woodlice scurried this way and that looking for safety. I love seeing the insects that live on my plot.  I have planted flowers and herbs that are beneficial to them as well as leaving wild areas. The reward is I have very few pest problems.  For example an army of ladybirds and their larva  march on black fly and aphids and clear them away.

Last year I cleared a bed at the bottom of my plot and put my herbs there but did not like them so far away from where I meditate, or just sit and enjoy being so near to the sea with the natural world around me. So here I was clearing and lightly digging a bed at the top of the plot for my herbs. Some plants I will plant now but some I will pot up and put in my cold frame over winter. I grew 31 herbs last year.  In the coming year I am going to add to my collection lemon verbena, sweet cicely and perhaps others as well.

The next task was to cleared another bed to plant broad beans.  They are such tough plants last year I planted them in October, those that the mice had left had just emerged when they were first covered over by water then the water turned to ice, I could see the tiny plantlets under the ice, It snowed in November and January for several weeks  but by late Spring they had grown and produced a huge crop of beans.  They have an amazing hardiness and survival ability.  

As I worked I realised that it was a wonderful way to send the day of the Autumn Equinox. My Ancestors would have worked to bring in the harvest at this time and I was very aware how blessed I was to have had a wonderful harvest this year and am very grateful for this and for my plot and the wonderful seascape around me.

Organic Gardening
The Atumn Equinix is Celebrated in Druidry as the festival Alban Elfed, one of the Celtic fire festivals, a time of contemplation, of gratitude for not only the harvest but for the experiences of the past year. As the blowzy summer months have given way to the chill of Autumn,  I have been planning for next Spring, sowing seeds and planting bulbs ready for the rebirth of light and growth.   Preparing for Imbolc, Candlemass when the goddess Credwin and Brigid brew the essence of Spring and the celandines and snowdrops begin to flower  - the heralds of Spring. 

With Reiki Blessing
Merry B

Monday, 5 September 2011

Red Alert - No more hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs in Britain are on the red list of endangered species. They could disappear altogether in 10 - 15 years. Toni Bunnell estimates that the hedgehog population has decreased by 25% over the last decade. It is partly due to the use of pesticides by farmers,  along with gardeners and allotment holders.  The use of large mower, strimmers, rat poison and plastic netting on fruit cages and vegetable crops.   There are also so many sterile gardens with all weeds rooted out, gardens paved over or covered in decking. Hedges are replaced by impenetrable fences and walls......

Recently I found a baby hedgehog with a terrible wound across it body probably from a strimmer. It died shortly after I found it.  It was heartbreaking to see a a baby animal suffering such a painful death.  Hedgehogs when under threat curl up tight in a spinney ball which is a bad defence against modern machinery, and cars.

It would be so sad if this iconic creature was no longer part of our garden and countryside wildlife. We can help in their survival by creating the right habitat for hedgehogs in our own gardens and joining together with people in our street, estate or community in the Hedgehogs Street campaign:

This link to will give you information about these animals and show ways each of us could to help them.  Recently the Charity found that slug pelts that had a picture of a Hedgehog on them suggesting that it was safe to use for where  there were these animals, was in was in fact  poisonous to them.  After the Charity informed B&Q they reacted quickly and withdrew the product and went straight to the manufacturer to use their influence to change the product..

The Charity also provided evidence to McDonald’s which prompted the company to changed the lid on their McFlurry dessert!   The original containers  carelessly tossed away trapped many hedgehogs who crawled into lick up the leftover ice cream or for shelter and could not get out again.   Some were released by kindly passers by, some were found dead, and it will never be known how many were never found at all. The new lid has a smaller aperture so the customer will take the lid off to get to the ice cream. Even if the cup does get thrown to the ground with the lid attached, the hole should be too small for hedgehogs to push into.
It seems that powerful global business  can be persuaded to get  behind the campaign for the survival  of Hedgehogs.  But each of us individually can, however, help them just by providing as safe small corner of our garden and allotments as a wild life sanctuary we can attract wild life and hedgehogs,  by planting a hedge, creating a hedgehog street, building a log pile or creating a dead hedge for hedgehogs.  These simple measures would give hedgehogs a safe haven to sleeping in during the day or hibernate in over winter and safe routes to roam in.   It could bring the reward of seeing visiting or maybe resident hedgehogs. They in return will clear the ground of slugs and snails and other pest.

I hope we can join together to create safe havens for our hedgehogs. And future generations, our grandchildren and great grandchildren, will have the delight of seeing hedgehogs visiting their garden, allotment,  or  while walking in the countrysides at dusk see them ambling past.

With Reiki blessing to Hedgehogs and all living creature

Merry B