Gathered Knowledge

Coltsfoot appearing


Coltsfoot flowers have been out for a couple of weeks. They grow beside pathways, woodland edges and rough ground.

Nicknamed ‘Son of the Father’ because the flowers appear before the leaves, it is the classic remedy for coughs and chest complaints. The traditional sweet ‘cough candy’ was made of Coltsfoot.

The Gypsies say that wherever Coltsfoot grows, coal will be found below. Keep it quiet though, or they’ll start mining.

We will follow this plant and discuss its many uses as the flowers disappear and the leaves shaped like a ‘colt’s feet’ pop their heads above ground.


Cleavers – Goosegrass – Stickyweed

Cleavers starts growing again in February.  Children (and some adults) stick it to each others clothes and hair.


Growing in abundance throughout Britain, it is one of the finest medicinal herbs and not bad in the pot.


We use the whole green plant above ground (before seeding) in stews. Chop it up to avoid stringyness and don’t carry it for more than a day as it wilts very quickly and loses it’s vibrancy.

It isn’t the most tasty of pot herbs, but is one of the healthiest. Mix it with some stock or wild garlic (ramsons) to give it some flavour. Cook for about 5-8 minutes. Don’t eat raw, it gets stuck in the throat.

Try experimenting with frying it in butter, adding some water at the end just to soften it up.


As medicine, Cleavers is a purifying tonic, cleansing the blood, the lymphatic system and our internal workings generally. Make a healthful tea with a small handful of fresh herb and boiling water, leave to steep for 10-15 mins then drain and drink.

More specific effects are the reduction of swollen glands, ulcers and tumours.

small-cleavers-closer-pluckley-27209If you crush the plant into a pulp (or chew it)  you can apply the juice to blisters, cold sores, burns and to wounds to stop the bleeding.

The tea makes a good skin wash.

Avoid taking this plant internally if you are diabetic.


Thought for the mile 2

“Does not the world produce thinking in the heads of men with the same necessity as it produces the blossom on a plant?
By thinking, we can fit together again into one piece all that we have taken apart through perceiving.”

Rudolf Steiner

The Rune of St Patrick (Faedh Fiada)

At Tara today in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And fire with all the strength it hath,
And lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness
And the rocks with their steepness
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place,
By God’s almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness.

(found in a bookshop in Kent, in a book of Celtic verse)

Presuming Dr. Livingstone

Our Malawian pop-star pal Kenny, well-met in Canterbury, told us the tale of Dr Livingstone. This story was related over a pot of Early Bird in Simple Simons (now the Parrot).

The accuracy of the story cannot be confirmed, but anyroad, it goes thuswise:
Livingstone was a Scottish Missionary, a man with a great heart, and with the balls of an elephant. As a missionary, he was not hugely successful, being accredited with only one conversion to the Church. But as a hero amongst men, he was (as all heroes) uniquely spectacular.


So what did he do?


The Leaves That Hung But Never Grew

In a lonely cottage lives a mother and daughter. They are poor as poor can be, so the girl goes off to find work. She sets off, and finds a great mansion. There the lord asks her ‘What do you want?’
She replies ‘I am seeking work.’ ‘I will give thee work’ the lord says, ‘to find the leaves that hung but never grew.’


The Man Who Planted Trees

by Jean Giono

FOR A HUMAN CHARACTER to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake.


Thought for the mile

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind.

William Blake


Sorrel grows in fields and hedgerows and is just beginning to push up it’s new leaves



This is a good raw trailside snack, with a  slightly citrus twang.  Add it to salads and stews for flavour.

It was a favourite vegetable of the Tudor period and appeared regularly at the table of Henry VIII.




It contains oxalic acid so don’t eat huge amounts of it, though a good handful in your salad is absolutely fine.  Sorrel enlivens the tasetebuds and and gets your digestive juices flowing.




Sorrel grows in fields (as above) and on hedgerow banks and field margins.




Ramsons – Wild Garlic

The first wild garlic we have found this year.


Growing in woodland and shady damp places we use ramsons for putting raw into sandwiches, eating on its own or for adding flavour to pot.


Garlic is good for immunity, and helps lower your blood pressure. When eaten by itself it can be fairly strong, so have a bottle of water handy.


If you have any trouble identifying it just pick some and give it a smell…


Spending the night in the garlic can make you keep the smell for days.

small-garlic-flowers-pre-salisbury4The flowers taste good too.