Entering The Garden

We’ve just completed our second week of the Wise Child Learning Program. We’re delighted and grateful to have the organic medicinal garden of Sister Sage Herbs as one area where we work, learn, and play!

I like to start sessions (when they take place in fine weather) with what I call a “greenfire”. Basically, it’s a circle created by the kids (and/or adults when present!) and myself with stones or sticks, leaves or flowers, etc. or all of the above! from the natural world. The “greenfire” serves as our imaginative and centering fire during our time in that place.

Here is our first greenfire:

Our first "greenfire"

We’ve taken time beginning to get acquainted with the herbs in the garden. I was delighted to discover one of my favorite herbs in abundance, Evening Primrose (Oenothera spp.).

Evening Primrose - one of my favorite herbs!

During our first week, we compared and contrasted plant “lookalikes”. Here are Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla, grown in the garden) and Pineapple Weed (Matricaria discoidea, a common wild chamomile on the dirt roads nearby.

Chamomile (growing) and Pineapple Weed (in her hand)

We have each chosen a new plant friend to get to know deeply this year, and whose area we will give extra-special care (weeding, etc.!)

I chose this one–or perhaps I might say, it chose me! Every time I walk even a little close to it, I find my clothes and hair coated in in its “cockleburrs”, its seed-heads with their stiff hairs and hooked ends.

Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)- sometimes called "Cockleburr" or "Sticklewort" with good reason!

We’ve each created three-line poems inspired by our new plant friends. Look for a “Lesson Plan” in the near future about how to do this process!

We created poems about our new plant friends

An ongoing project this year is add to our “Weather Trees” — drawings we made today of a leafless tree. Each day we’ll color in a leaf to represent the weather. Today’s leaf was inspired by the morning fog that dispersed to sunshine.

Both in the garden and in other areas of the surrounding land are ripe raspberries. We can’t help but enjoy some!

Ripe Raspberries always beckon!

That’s just a snippet of our time in the garden, and of our day!

Spring In The Forest

I thought I’d share a few photos of what’s springing up in our forest.

This is Snowdrop (Galanthus). Not native to America, as far as I know, but sure growing in sweeps in our woods! In Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies Of The Winter, The lovely Snowdrop is the first to herald the spring soon to come.

Snowdrops In The Forest – photo by Jane
Snowdrop Fairy art by Cicely Mary Barker

The Song Of The Snowdrop Fairy

Deep sleep the winter,
Cold, wet and grey;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait the world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!

I cannot tell you how much the Flower Fairies (the original books as well as their spin-offs) have inspired several girls I know to learn about herbs!

If you love fairies and flowers, or have kids in your life who do, you might want to take a look at those books.  In our house these are favorites (full disclosure — we are a Powells Bookstore partner):

Flower Fairies Of The Spring
by Cicely Mary BarkerHardcover


Here are a few other herbs coming up just now.  Someday I’ll have to draw these fairies!  I have a feeling they won’t be very Victorian … we do live in the Pacific Northwest, in the 21st century …!

Cleavers (aka Bedstraw) – photo by Jane
Nettle – photo by Jane

I’m harvesting both Nettle and Cleavers to make vinegars, tinctures, and to dry for teas/infusions. I’ll write more about their qualities another time!