Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and left such beautiful comments. It really warmed my heart to read them.

My husband has pulled a couple of names from the hat and the winners are as follows:

The rose blend goes to Maggie and the print to Jen. If you could both email me your postal addresses at whisperingearth@gmail.com I will get them out to you in the next few days.

Despite being generally very lucky, I am the kind of person who never wins anything so I thought I would try to avoid too much disappointment by offering everyone who wished to win the print a postcard version of it instead. I am only just getting postcards made up now so there may be a short delay in getting them to you but if you email me at the above address I’ll send you one out when they are ready. I’m sorry I can’t offer everyone some rose blend as well but my budget can’t quite stretch that far!

I’ll leave you with a few photos of the awakening spring buds here on the South Downs.

The fresh growth of elder gives me such a thrill, truly one of my favourite plant allies, in so many ways.

And the small but gloriously fat buds of the wayfaring tree are so lovely at this time of year.

All of nature rejoices when spring is in the air!

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Another Year, Another Giveaway!

It’s hard to believe it but somehow another year has rolled around and Whispering Earth celebrates its second birthday today. So once again I would like to mark the occasion with a brief retrospective of my highlights from the year past and another little giveaway. I couldn’t decide which of them to offer so I have settled on two small gifts, both seasonal in their own way.

Firstly, as it is Valentine’s day, I will be giving away a 20ml dropper bottle of organic rose otto essential oil blended with organic jojoba at 2.5%. This can be used as an addition to massage blends or face oils or rubbed into the neck as perfume. However I most recommend you use a few drops massaged over the heart area in a gentle circular motion as a meditative and nurturing way to relax, encourage deep breathing and open your heart. As you may know, rose otto is the most expensive essential oil in the world and 500 roses go into making just the amount that is found in this blend. Therefore it is so important to use rose, or any oil, with the awareness of how precious it is and with every drop valued as a gift from nature.

As the snow is only just beginning to melt here I thought I would offer an A4 sized print of my Winter Solstice picture as an alternative for those who would prefer it. It was painted last winter when the snow lay thick on the ground and we were unable to get to work for several days.

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment below this post with your name and the item you would like to win. I will pull two names from the hat in a weeks time. As both items are light I am happy to send them abroad.

Now I shall turn back, briefly, and remember the highlights of a year spent in nature; connecting, observing, harvesting, writing and rejoicing in the many gifts and subtle lessons she brings.

Last February I was enjoying playing with cinnamon and reading inspiring books by the fire.

In March I was dreaming of violets and exploring the new growth of elder through Goethean observation.

April saw me celebrating spring flowers and enjoying ground ivy.

In May I was making hawthorn flower remedies and loving the abundant cowslips.

June arrived to find me making salves, ointments and balms and talking about milk thistle.

In July I was happy in the company of Motherwort and enjoying simple summer teas.

August saw me making up poultices and compresses and celebrating the wildlife in my garden.

During September I spoke about two old favourites of mine, Yarrow and Calendula.

By the time October rolled around I was ready for some nourishing herbal soups and a bit of philosophising.

November came and I was in the mood for storytelling as well as sharing some tips on making breast massage oils.

And then December and a series of cream making posts beginning with this one.  Also a round up of my year spent with Hawthorn.

Finally, my blogging year ended in January with thoughts on interbeing and some pictures of my Dad’s marvellous mushrooms!

I do so hope you have enjoyed at least a few of the posts I have shared over the year and I hope this next year will be just as magical.

I would like to round up by sharing a poem that I love with you. Part celebration of the natural world and part love poem, it stirs a sigh and a smile from the vast unknown.

Canal Bank Walk  by Patrick Kavanagh

Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal
Pouring redemption for me, that I do
The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal,
Grow with nature again as before I grew.
The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third
Party to the couple kissing on an old seat,
And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word
Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat.
O unworn world enrapture me, encapture me in a web
Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech,
Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib
To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech
For this soul needs to be honoured with a new dress woven
From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.

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Cream Update!

Many apologies! When publishing the cream recipe last night I doubled the fat portion to make 200ml of cream and forgot to double the water part ingredients. If you receive these posts via email the quantities for the waters will be wrong. I have updated the post now so please check the recipe on the blog for correct amounts.

What can I say, I obviously haven’t been taking my rosemary of late.

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This Too Shall Pass

Many have heard the story of the great king and his search for truth but, as this evening is a cold one and I hope you are sitting at home around the fire, perhaps sipping some chai or a little sloe gin, I shall wait for you to get comfortable and then I will tell it. At least I will tell it as I think it may have happened.

Once upon a time, in a land far away to the east, there lived a wise old king. His palace was great, his court was fine and his accomplishments were many. He never wanted for anything and was constantly engaged in one entertainment or another. He was very learned and had read the great treatises and scriptures of many a land and many a faith. Though he had realised much and people far and wide thought him to be deeply wise, still he felt something was missing.

So one day he gathered together the very cleverest of his advisers and all the wise men and great sages of the land and he charged them with finding something that was always true. Something that was true when he was happy and true when he was sad, that was true in the springtime and true in the winter and that was true in his greatest victories and also in his greatest defeats. The wise men were perplexed, ‘what is that which is always true?’ they asked themselves. They each set off to the far ends of the Kingdom and then further beyond still, to many distant lands, intent on discovering this truth that the king had asked from them. They agreed to meet back at the Kingdom after one full year and tell the King what they had discovered.

All but one.  He stayed in his little cottage at the edge of the woods and tended to his garden. When the villagers and courtiers passed by they said, ‘ that is the lazy wise man, he hasn’t even gone to meet with the priest in the next town, just sits in his garden watching the birds and the clouds or gazing into the trees. The King surely won’t be pleased with him.’  And so the year went on and the wise man observed how the spring turned to summer which turned to autumn and how the plants in his garden died and returned again. He saw how the birds came and went and even the great trees would pass eventually, and when they did, they would give new life to many insects and creatures.

After the year had gone by all the wise men met up in the Court ready to astound people with all the clever things they had learnt. They told tales and riddles from lands far and near, spoke words of subtlety and cunning and made every man’s head present hurt with the thinking. But the King was still not satisfied. Finally our own wise man, from the cottage by the woods, stepped forward and said to the king, ‘Sire, I have seen that which is true. It is true in my garden and true in the forest.’ At this the people laughed, ‘silly old fool’ they thought. ‘It is true throughout your Kingdom and true even to the very ends of the Earth. And it is true in my own heart.’

‘So’ said the King, ‘what is this truth of which you speak?’

The old man bent his head and spoke softly as the last leaves of Autumn drifted through the windows and on to the Palace floor. ‘And this too shall pass’ he said, then turned away and walked back to his cottage in the forest.

At last the King was satisfied.

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Green Gems In The City

I spent a lovely day off in London on Friday and, perhaps surprisingly, it was filled with wildness and greenery. In the morning I met my friend Martina for an urban herb walk and in the afternoon my sister and I visited Chelsea Physic Garden.

It’s great to remind myself of how many herbal gems there are to be found, even in a sprawling city like London, when you go a little off the beaten track and start exploring.

Martina took me off down a little walkway near her house to show me that Pan, God of all that is wild and green, can still be found, shrouded in Elderflowers, in the unlikeliest of places- in this case erupting out of a wall underneath an old railway bridge.

Along the walk we found nettle seed almost ripe for picking. It was a shock to remember its only the first week of June, everything is so early this year.

Ribwort plantain flowered freely by our feet as we walked past the skate ramps and on towards Finsbury Park.

Martina was just telling me about a book she is reading on old magical uses of plants when we passed this little gathering of trees, Hawthorn, Oak and Ash. Oak, Ash and Thorn were sacred trees of the Druids and where they grow together it is thought to be a particularly magical place.

Martina- by Oak, Ash and Thorn

Honeysuckle was in full flower in the hedgerows.

And the Lime blossom is out already! This made me panic slightly as I’ll need to get out harvesting sooner than I expected.

Horsetail also adorned the paths with its pre-historic beauty.

By the time my sister and I arrived at Chelsea Physic garden it was baking hot. I forget how much hotter it gets in London than here on the coast with its clear, cool breezes.

Chelsea Physic garden was founded in 1673 by none other than The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.

According to the information leaflet, ‘The location was chosen as the proximity to the river created a warmer microclimate allowing the survival of many non-native plants – such as the largest outdoor fruiting olive tree in Britain – and more importantly, to allow plants to survive harsh British winters.’ There are certainly lots of fascinating exotic plants in the gardens alongside our more common native and introduced culinary and medicinal herbs.

I found my eye was particularly caught by the wide variety of Solanaceae family plants in the garden. There was Thorn Apple, Datura stramonium, well known in herbal medicine, though its use is highly restricted due to potential toxicity.

As well as the beautiful Solanum quitoense, which produces a fruit eaten in Ecuador and Columbia known as naranjilla, or little orange.

Then there was the fabulous Mandrake, Mandragora officinarum. Few plants can have such a rich folklore attributed to them, featuring in everything from early books of leechcraft to Harry Potter.

Finally this splendidly savage Solanum pyracanthum, a native of Madagascar and apparently also known as porcupine tomato.

I am happy to say the wildlife was also out enjoying the wide range of plants and brilliant sunshine.

It’s so heartening to find havens for plants, people and wildlife, all in the midst of such a large and polluted city.

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Joyful News On Earth Day

As today is Earth Day I thought I would share this link to an article written in The Guardian earlier this month.

Bolivia, which has a large population of indigenous people, has drafted new laws granting rights to Mother Earth and to nature including, “the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.”

Let’s hope the rest of the world’s governments wake up and follow suit.

Happy Earth Day!

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It’s been exactly a year since I started writing this blog, a year in which I’ve learnt lots and made some lovely blogging friends, at home and abroad. I thought I’d mark the occasion with a small giveaway and a little retrospective of some of my herbal highlights from the year past.

I mentioned in our last blog party how I like to make up blends of oils in little rollette bottles that can be easily carried around and applied in a moment of need. This month I’ll be giving away one of my favourites, a blend of rose petal and tilia infused oils with 5% organic essential oils of rose otto, geranium and tangerine. You can apply it to your pulse point or rub a little under your collarbone to experience the heart opening and uplifting effects. As it’s a strong blend of essential oils you wouldn’t use it on your face but more as a natural perfume and instant aromatherapy. Also, the rose petals are infused in sweet almond oil so best to avoid this if you’re allergic to nuts.

I wanted to make something small enough to send easily so this is open to everyone, wherever in the world they live. To enter the giveaway just leave a note in the comments with your name. I’ll pull the names out of a hat in 10 days time, that’s Wednesday the 23rd.

Now I shall cast my eye back over the last year of nature gazing and medicine making, just click on the links to read any of the posts that interest you.

Last February I enjoyed getting to know the Yews in our local area.

In March I was picking cleavers and having fun in the kitchen with oranges.

By April my garden was waking and there was an abundance of Ramsons in the woods.

In May I had fun musing on Comfrey, getting to know Speedwell and delighting in Hawthorn.

June rolled around and I was to be found in the company of Horsetail and Linden.

July had me blissed out in fields of Chamomile and discovering Wild Marjoram.

Then in August we finally moved out to the countryside and I had fun harvesting nettle seeds along the track leading to our house.

In September I got carried away writing posts on Elder

Whilst in October I was back spending time with the Hawthorns and warming up with Cardamom.

November brought the first frost and with it the sweeter rose hips and sloes. It also saw me digging Nettle roots and enjoying Rosemary medicine.

The year ended with a thick fall of snow and I stayed warm with Ginger and calm with inspiration from our ‘no time for stress‘ blog party.

Then in January I mused on detox, enjoyed back pepper and listed some of my favourite herbal hugs.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog and continue to do so as we see what 2011 will bring.

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Save Our Forests

There are plans afoot in the UK Government to sell off half our national forests to private firms. I urge anyone who finds this as deplorable as me to sign the petition on 38 degrees. Just follow this link to have your say.

Help save our native forests from greed and destruction


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A while ago, Holly left a comment asking where I buy my herbal and medicine making supplies from. I thought I’d share this in a post in case anyone else is seeking out good suppliers. This post will mostly be of relevance to those in the UK, though many companies will of course ship internationally if you can’t find anything similar where you live.


Dried Herbs and Tinctures: Of course the hedgerow is the first stop for many of my herbs but there will always be times when you need to buy in extra herbs or ones you haven’t had time to harvest yourself. Unfortunately many companies who supply in bulk sell to practitioners only, but two I use that sell to the general public are Cotswolds Herbs, who have good quality dried herbs and at very reasonable prices though much of their stock is not organic, and The Organic Herb Trading Company, who stock a full range of organic herbs though they only take orders of £50 or more. For small quantities of dried herb or tinctures Baldwins or Neal’s Yard are probably your best bets. This does work out much more expensive in the long run though so it’s always worth clubbing together with a few other people and buying in bulk.

Herbal Plants and Seeds: Growing your own herbs is so much fun and gives you chance to get to know plants that you don’t meet in your local rambles. There are a few nurseries and stockists that do a good range of seeds and/ or young plants including Suffolk Herbs, Herbal Haven and Poyntzfield Nursery. Jekka’s Herb Farm do a great range of herbs though, as I had a bad experience the first time I ordered from them, I tend to look elsewhere first.

Essential Oils and Base Oils: Essential oils can be bought from Materia Aromatica who do a range of lovely organic oils. On the high street Neal’s Yard are also good though not quite as pure.

You can get some good quality base oils, such as olive or sesame, from the health food store or supermarket, as long as you make sure they are cold pressed and organic. For other organic base oils I go to Materia Aromatica again or, for non-organic oils, Baldwins or Aromantic do a good selection, though I have found the quality to be inferior to the organic ones. Base oils are fatty oils and, as plants store toxins in their fat cells, it’s best to get organic if possible.

Bottles and Jars: I get empty jars and small dropper bottles from Essentially Oils or Baldwins who also stock tincture bottles and other useful sundries such as measuring cylinders.

Other Bits and Pieces: For other kinds of herbal preparations I buy my cider vinegar from the local farm shop,  my witch hazel distillate from Aromantic and my honey from these amazing people at Pyrenees honey who stock the yummiest raw and organic honey I’ve tried. They do a local Sussex one from the allotments which I use most often as well as a range of delicious flavours (try the oak honey, it’s incredible) from Spain which are lovely for a treat.

I hope that list was useful to some people and if anyone has any of their own recommendations, please let us know in the comments below.

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Farewell Feathered Friend

So at last our baby gull has flown the nest. Off she went running down the road and after a few attempts, she took off, soaring above the roof tops into a bright blue world of sky and sea.

Farewell Suki, we wish you a long and happy life.

Getting ready...

And lift off...


Up and away!

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