June brings pace and plenty in flora and fauna, and there is a buzz about our little allotment plot; the hum and thrum of life, and a palpable intensifying of growth. We have seen the spring sunshine and showers. Seeds have been sown and now the plants are thickening and ripening. Cut and come-again leaves, including chard, rocket, spinach and kale, are growing thick and fast, while our fresh garlic tips are beginning to wilt towards fruition. Our broad-bean pods are starting to burgeon and we will be making falafel, dips and salads, as well as drying and storing them.
While we have a heavy weeding regime in common, the Weleda gardens in Ilkeston are a hive of activity on a much larger scale, and the bees are hard at work pollinating.
Most plants are in full flower and ripe for harvest, such as chamomile, calendula, Creeping Jenny, St John’s Wort, echinacea and Scotch Thistle. The wildflower meadow, created as a natural home for cowslip, is exploding with biodiversity; insects, butterflies, bees and dragonflies.
Next to the meadow is a small apiary run by Mick ‘the bee’ Parker, where the honey bees have established their colony in wooden hives, producing honey. This is a welcome perk for the Weleda staff, but we are celebrating the vital work of the bees in pollinating plants; they are a workforce deserving of our appreciation and encouragement. In addition, they provide us with natural beeswax, used in Weleda’s Calendula Weather Protection Cream and Everon Lip Balm, while organic honey is used in their Herb and Honey Cough Elixir.
The summer solstice will be marked with a small bonfire. A chance to pause, exhale and cherish the profound connection to the season, the natural world and its rhythms, which can be so elusive amid the distractions of modern life.
Back at the little plot, we are seeing the bloom and spread of our own organic chamomile from seeds that were generously gifted by Weleda. When we sowed these back in March, just before the full moon to speed their germination, it was my first, tentative foray into biodynamic plotting. They were scattered in a winding gauze around struggling early seedlings and herbs to calm and revitalise, and trod into the soil under my boots, since they love compacted soil. Our calendula shoots are gleaming in abundance, lavender is high and fine, and we welcome our own industrious pollinators.
Chamomile is lauded in biodynamic growing, to perk up ailing plants by planting alongside, or sprayed as a cold weak tea, and as a valuable addition to compost preparation. My wife and I love it, and use it daily; possibly because we can both use a calming tonic at times. Our children also enjoy it in the teas we make. We sneak them towards sleep with it in the evenings and mix it with thyme, peppermint and nettles in hay-fever season.
It also works brilliantly as a baking note in tea breads and treats, such as chamomile, oat and raspberry jam cookies. A chamomile and Scotch cocktail makes a soothing digestif at the end of the day, when we light a candle and look to our June growth; the balancing of high activity with luxurious, harmonising calm, and the incredible efficacy and vibrancy of natural process.
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Product of the month: blemish control
The Aknedoron range from Weleda looks to the purifying power of nature, and nods to a recent study, which found that thyme tincture had a greater antibacterial effect than benzoyl peroxide – with none of the common side effects, such as irritation or stinging. Having an all-natural solution to heal and clear those inevitable blemishes is comforting; as is the formula, which is rich in chamomile, calendula, thyme and lavender.