I was going to write a post up about how Autumn is the time to start tidying up your herb gardens. Cutting back spent flowers heads etc but the weather has gone from fairly horrid to even worse and I’m not going to go out there to take photos to support the write up. You’ll just have to read this post that I wrote up last year – that quite honestly, probably says the same as what I would say this year!
So what I will write about instead is our day out yesterday…
Easter Sunday we took a trip down to Ocean Beach on the Wairarapa coast. The wind was so strong it was bloomin’ nuts, it was the type of wind where you had to turn your face so sand/grit wouldn’t peckle your face. The type of wind where you worry that your small child might fly like a kite. The type of wind that makes you slightly stumble, dig in your heels and lean in like a picture in a kids book. It was so fun ~ it felt like a real adventure!
Along the banks and hills of this coast is oceans of wild fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – so much so that you couldn’t smell the sea air for the smell of fennel. I love the sweet aniseed-y smell but the kids didn’t (strange children!). I collected seed anyway as fennel seed is a wonderful carminative and excellent for sore bellies, for more info on identification and the medicinal uses of fennel go here, to The Wild Food Huntress. The seed is said to be good used in cosmetics as well, especially to help smooth out wrinkles (according to one of my old books ‘A Country Herbal’ by Lesley Gordon).
Perhaps it would go well with all the gorgeous rosehips I also found on our adventure. Rosehips are most well known for their vitamin C content – made into a syrup and taken as a preventative for the common cold. There’s heaps that you can do with rosehips from jellies and rosehip vodka to nourishing moisturisers. Homegrown Botanica uses rosehips in one of her moisturisers and has a wee article here about rosehips.
Any rosehips can be used, if foraging you’re most likely to come across Dog Rose (Rosa canina) where the hips are smooth-ish and the sepals have fallen off the ends (Dog rose is what I had come across and collected). Sweet Briar Rose (Rosa rubiginosa) have pricklier hips, sepals attached (like a wee skirt at the end of the fruit) and fragrant leaves. Dog rose is much more pleasant to harvest!
To top off my surprise foraging adventure (I wasn’t expecting to find goodies, but fortunately I always have a pair of secateurs in the car!) was Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum). Kawakawa is a bit of a family favourite as a tea – especially blended with Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citriodora) and Peppermint (Mentha x piperita). Relaxing but invigorating.
Before harvesting Kawakawa always ask the bush if it is OK to take from they – if you know an appropriate karakia (prayer) even better. Harvest from the sunny side, never take too much, only what you need and if the leaves have holes in them (caused by the caterpillar of a native moth) they must be the tastiest so choose those! Dry as you would other herbs; in a warm dark space. Take care to not bruise the leaves in transit from harvest to drying space. And thank the Kawakawa plant before you go!