The Ramps have arrived which means Spring has arrived in Appalachia!
This weekend (Easter) I would have been hosting a plant hike with NC Outdoor Adventures. To help prevent the spread of Covid-19, the event was cancelled. I have been self-quarantined with my family for 29 days with only minimal trips off the property. Thankfully, the property borders 2000 acres of National Forest and I have had lots of time to spend with the plants and have made some videos and other educational information to share when my hikes are cancelled. If you enjoy the content I am sharing, please consider giving a donation to cover my lost income during the pandemic. PayPal.me/HedgeandHollow
The theme of our hike was “Spring Ephemeral Hunt and Wild Foods Dinner”. My plan was to hunt for flowers like Easter eggs because, as ephemerals, they could be gone tomorrow. They are such a sweet treasure to find in the forest and light up my adult life in the same way an Easter egg hunt did as a child. We would look at Trillium, Black Cohosh, Blood Root, Wild Geranium…. and search for the famous Appalachian Ramps and Morels (among other wild edibles)! After our hike, we would head back to base camp where our bounty would be cooked on an open fire and shared as a community.
I hope these gifts inspire you to get out and connect with Mother Nature during this time. I promise time in Nature is just what you need! I also hope these videos help you to get to know me and what a hike with me would be like. I look forward to connecting with YOU on the other side of this!
I present to you, my very first herbal video! AND a recipe for my RAMP PESTO!
Hedge and Hollow Ramp Pesto
2oz (1/2 cup) hard cheese of your choosing, grated
1/2 cup nuts or seeds of your choosing
3 cups Ramp leaves, chopped
1/3-3/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
In a food processor blend the cheese and nuts or seeds till combined. Add the wild greens and blend well. With the food processor running, add the olive oil slowly until the desired consistency is reached. Salt and Pepper to taste.
I know from experience how hard it can be to start over with nothing. I know from experience that it feels nearly impossible to climb out of poverty (I’m still climbing). How defeating it can feel to not have choices in what you eat, what products you use, where you live, what is around you. I know what it feels like to constantly take one step forward and two steps back. It’s a hard existence and we need to find ways we can support people experiencing this.
I remember feeling so alone and ashamed I couldn’t access the good things I craved in life, the good things that could help me change my circumstances. I wanted nothing more than to have access to different healing opportunities. I wanted them for hope and support and strength to keep going. But of course everything was just to much money to even consider.
So I created my own.
(I know not everyone knows where to begin with that but it is my goal to show everyone they DO have everything they need to heal themselves!)
I don’t believe that healing should only be accessible to those with money. People without money need it even more. It is my goal to make sure I leave space for people to access my work who may not otherwise get the chance. I ALWAYS offer sliding scale and payment plans for my work. Please reach out if this will make my work more accessible to you.
I am announcing the opportunity to work with me as an apprentice.
I am looking for someone (or two someone’s to split the time) who is interested in learning about plants and nature and healing who may not otherwise have access to this education.
It is important to me that everyone have access to knowledge surrounding plants. It is important to me that we all remember how to connect with plants respectfully and heal our relationship with ourselves, the earth and each other.
Ideally we would spend 1 day a week together thru the 2020 growing season, April-November. This requires a serious commitment of time for both of us and only those willing to make this commitment should apply. Each workday requires planning and extra explanation behind the process on my part and shapes my work week. It is very important that we have a consistent schedule.
Your duties will include helping me with my projects and learning about everything I do. This is a free season of herbal education in exchange for hands on work. We will explore new trails for events and hikes, forage and wildcraft, make herbal products, work on garden projects and all aspects of Hedge & Hollow business.
This is at lot of work, but comes with reward. You will help me at classes and attend them for free. By working beside me you will get private plant walks and foraging/plant ID lessons. You will learn the process of herbal product making from concocting, to straining, to bottling, to labeling. You’ll learn how to garble, dry and process herbs as well as grow and tend them. You’ll learn about growing a friendship with nature, based on consent culture and sustainability.
No previous experience is needed, just an interest and serious commitment. All levels of experience welcome. All are welcome to apply and I do my best to create a safe space for all people. The only thing I ask is that you have an open mind and a willingness to listen to the green world.
If you would like to apply please send an email to email@example.com with the answers to the following questions as well as all contact info.
Why are you applying for this apprenticeship? What called you to learn about our herbal allies? Why Hedge & Hollow?
What barriers have you faced in receiving an herbal education?
What previous experience do you have? What do you hope to learn during this apprenticeship?
What special and unique gifts would you bring to the apprenticeship? What are your personal skills, talents and traits that make you, YOU?
What would be the ideal day of the week for you to work with me (10am-4pm)? Would you be able to do this every week April – November? Would you be able to attend events on weekends? What issues could arise that would prevent you from working your committed days?
Pink Lady Slipper is an extremely rare and protected native wildflower. It should NEVER be picked, harvested for medicine, transplanted or disturbed in any way. In cases of rescue, care should be taken that it is transplanted where some are already growing because of needed mycelium. It is my recommendation that it is only used as medicine in the form of flower essence and plant spirit medicine.
If you’ve seen a pink lady slipper, you remember it. These flowers are stop you in your tracks strikingly beautiful. They are also very rare. This combination is unfortunately part of their demise.
When I saw my first Pink Lady Slipper it took my breath away. It was so sexy, so alluring in this androgynous mix of vulva and testes, all and everything at once. It’s flower is called an Orchis which translates into testicle. It’s shape hangs down and it’s veiny appearance make it seem wrinkled. It has lips that lure bees into it’s luscious pink chamber with it’s shades of pink making it seem full of nectar. It has a bisexual reproductive organ called a column that sits at the top opening like a button. Everything about this flower is sexy.
In an herbalism class on Plant Spirit Medicine we were taking a journey to meet a plant we were deeply drawn to and I chose Pink Lady Slipper. On that journey I was lucky to meet this beautiful spirit. The spirit was neither male or female, more androgynous… a balance of softness and sharpness. Angular body parts moved with grace and pride ringing with many bracelets. Long hair and flowing patterned scarves floated and spiraled a circle dance. Despite the softness, Spirit dressed in feral fancies of fur and leather, wild and strong under the silks. The scarves lifted and revealed a Pink Lady Slipper delicately pinned against the tough leather with bone. They told me it was the “other” and the “self”, “to align the spirit and the root”. It “helps un-morph perception of self and present to the world from the heart”. It is “Two-spirit”.
I had a personal message from the Spirit as well. They told me to hunt the Pink Lady Wisdom. To kiss them each Spring. To bring my lover hunting for new places to kiss the Pink Lady.
And I do.
This energetic medicine is:
for those who are two spirit, genderqueer, gender non conforming and trans
for those who experience body dysmorphia
for those wishing to speak truth, express your true identity and release shame
for those who want to understand and delve deeper into their sexuality and uncover new layers of intimacy
for anyone who feels disconnected from their sexuality and need to connect the root and spirit
Violet wasn’t shy. She practically screamed at me before I heard her.
I noticed Violet my first year living the DIY lifestyle in the Big Woods Witch Haus. Several patches of my yard were over run with violets in the early spring. They had a deep rich purple colored blooms with succulent stems and heart leaves and were the first signs that spring had sprung! They lasted forever and I loved seeing the purple patches in the new bright spring green yard. They even snuck their way into my garden where I would leave them and they would become large and luscious!
One day I decided I had to know more and find out what to do with them. It wasn’t difficult and I felt assured of my ID. Eating flowers with my kids seemed like a perfect hippie DIY anarchist homeschooling mom thing to do so we munched them while sitting in the yard and decided they tasted “purple” and “delicate”. We filled a bucket and made violet syrup. It was such magic, to see it turn from blue to violet with the addition of lemon juice!
It was fairy flower magic! It was science! It was so exciting! We drank cool refreshing violet lemonade and I made a cocktail later that night. Luckily they hung around a bit longer and our yard was so prolific, we made a second batch a week or so later.
The following year, I found myself looking forward to The Violet Arrival and made plans for all the wonderful things I could do with it. When the time came, I did everything… I dried it, I candied it, I made more syrup, I made violet white balsamic vinegar, I made made violet sugar, drank violet tea, I made violet vodka, ate them in my salad and froze flowers in ice cubes. I brought Violet with me to an Anarchist Woman’s Retreat. On our first night, we pampered our selves gathering nude under Pegasus in the hot tub sipping violet vodka cocktails made with hand squeezed dumpstered lemons mixed with mystical colored violet syrup and garnished with a violet sugared rim and candied flower. We also used the violet sugar in our morning tea.
The next year, as I awaited for Violet to visit, I noticed another flower that caught my eye the year before had started to spread. It felt very good to see it thriving there again, I was drawn to it so I looked it up. Maybe this would be another flower to explore like Violet; to munch, to prepare… How exciting!
No. This was Star of Bethlehem. It wasn’t edible, but it did have this magical and energetic medicine to it. It was for healing from grief and more specifically, from trauma. You see, The Big Woods Witch Haus was more than just a 100+ year old farmhouse. It was the place we had moved to live with nature, to heal from the unexpected death of our son. (My step son passed away unexpectedly in his sleep at 18 years old) We also found out after moving there that he had lived in the very same house, at the age of my son (his younger brother) with his mother while my partner lived in Wilmington. It was also the place where my repressed memories of sexual trauma resurfaced and where I had helped a teen friend of my daughter recover from sexual abuse. It was such perfect medicine for our home that I was moved to tears and knew that the flower was growing there for me and my family! It wasn’t a new flower for me to make syrups and cocktails with, but it did open up a new door for me. Plants really do grow where it is needed. It opened up this place in me and I knew I had to keep going. I looked into violet’s medicine, I looked at what else was around me, what else has shown up since I got there, what was always there, and most importantly, what they all had to say. I became interested in finding a class to take.
As I looked into Violet’s energies and I stumbled on to a flower essence by One Willow Apothecary and knew the connection to Chestnut School of Herbs so I ordered some, not knowing a thing about flower essences and not feeling confident enough to look in to how to do it myself. I noticed the Appalachian Apothecary class offered on the website and was very drawn to it. I mentioned it several times to my partner and they gifted me the weekends away as a surprise birthday/mother’s day gift. When I got the essence, I took it daily and meditated with it. I was very nervous about the class as I have anxiety and was going through a bad patch at the time (hence why my partner gave me the class- to get away by myself and explore a passion). In one of my plant meditations, I had this vision of being in class a laying in a field and the teacher giving us violet essence to put on our eyelids. Violet told me that I needed this class and not to be afraid; I was genuine- brave and delicate, mysterious and friendly and people in the class would recognize my light and I would see it too. Later, in my first class, Asia took us to a violet field and gave us essence to dream with! It was so similar, I couldn’t even express it out loud. Luckily, I had told my partner about my anxiety calming dream and when I told him the similarity of my experience, I was rewarded in validation of my woo woo feelings!
Violet opened the door to herbalism for me. She showed me the possibilities of herbs and woke me up to hearing them. She gave me the confidence to look and explore further.
Sweet violet, Blue violet
Feminine Water Venus
Grows in damp shady places, Early to late spring/Ostara
Use all above ground parts
Flowers: lavender to purple, sometimes yellow or white. Shy, nodding 5 petaled with white center
Leaves: large, dark, pronounced heart shape that often forms a cup
Root: Medic (induce vomiting) has a ghost flower- colorless and blooms underground
Preparation: food/eaten, standard infusion, poultice, infused oil, tincture (1:2 95%)
Food Medicine: edible flowers and leaves, high vitamin A & C (2x the amount of orange or spinach!)
Muclinagenous leaves are good for sore throat
Blood Purifier: strengthens blood vessels, literal and figurative “boundaries”
Use topically (and internally) for bruises, spider veins, eczema, psorisis
cools hot and inflamed injuries
Great for breast health: use infused oil for mastitis or hardness in lymph nodes. Also take internally.
Moods: moderates anger, comforts and strengthens the heart, calms the nerves, soothes wrestlesness
Cancer: Europeans and Natives believed it balanced the immune sysytem
Pulmonary- cough remedy, for bronchitis, dry cough, whooping cough
Contra-indications: Be careful taking tincture in high doses, it can be draining
In folk lore, Violet is a well known faerie magic plant, known for protection and invisibility. It is said to carry it for protection or offer it to the fae folk or nature spirits. Folk lore also speaks of it for curing headaches and diziness, and heart ache and grief.
The term “shy violet” comes from the tale os Diana turning Nymph Ia into a violet to hide from Apollo’s unwanted ardor. All purple/blue flowers are associated with Diana.
Ancient Greeks believed violet helped calm tempers and helped induce sleep. They used the flowers fresh and dried in teas and baths for it’s astringent properties.
Violet’s Recipes & Concoctions
Violet Syrup Use only the flowers for this recipe. Make an infusion of a 1:2 ratio of flowers to hot boiling water. After 1 hr strain and reserve liquid which should be a blue purple color. Add 1 Tblsp of lemon juice for each cup of infusion. This should cause the infusion to turn bright purple! In a pot heat a 1:1.5 ration of infusion to sugar (this can be adjusted depending on thickness and sweetness desired). Heat until combined and thickened. Put in to clean dry jars and let cool before sealing. Will keep in the fridge for several weeks. This makes a wonderful addition to homemade lemonade. Add vodka for an adult version! Great in smoothies or add to club soda for a purple soda. You can read my original post about it from years ago HERE
Violet Tea Violet tea is very nice by it’s self or blended with other teas. It is a strong nutrative tea, high in vitamin C. Great for sore throats, and respritory and digestive systems. It is very neutral so you can add more aromatic herbs. My favorite is violet leaf and flower, raspberry leaf, red clover, and tulsi .If using dried herb, use 1oz, or a handfull of herbs for every 32 oz of boiling water. If using fresh, use aprox 4oz or 4 handfulls for 32 oz of water. Let seep in your favorite method for about 20 mins and enjoy.
Spring TonicViolet is an Alterative herb (a blood cleanser) so it is a great plant to add to your spring tonic. To make a basic spring tonic in the folk method, fill a mason jar with chopped spring alterative herbs, such as violet flowers and leaves, chickweed, cleavers, dandelion flowers and leaves, purple dead nettle, garlic, etc. Cover the plant matter with vinegar of your liking, most commonly apple cider vinegar. Vinegar will cause the metal jar lid to rust, so use a plastic one or layer parchment paper or saran wrap between liquid and metal lid.Let sit in a cool dark place for 4-6 weeks. Take a tablespoon+ daily as a spring ritual to get the body ready for the season ahead!
Violet Salad DressingTo make a violet salad dressing, you need to infuse a vinegar with either just violets or a blend of other well paired herbs for flavors and medicine. I suggest using a high quality vinegar like a white wine or white balsamic. The following recipe is for my Ostara Vinegar. I make a salad dressing for each holiday out of seasonal herbs and goodies to celebrate the flavors, medicine and magic of each season. Fill a small jar with chopped violet flowers and leaves, chopped wood sorrel, and chopped chickweed, add a few cracked pink peppercorns. Cover with white balsamic vinegar and cover with a plastic lid. Store in a cool dark place for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain through cheesecloth and bottle. Great on salads, as flavor to soups and sauces or as a medicine by the tablespoon.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and I have a gift for all my survivor sisters out there! I will be offering a FREE workshop that will focus on tools for Survivors to connect into nature for healing and fall in love with themselves and their embodied experience in the natural world around them. For non-local Survivors, the workbook zine for this workshop will be available to download for FREE during the month of April. This is my love letter to all of you and to myself.
As Survivors, we crave deep connection… to each other, to ourselves and to something bigger than ourselves. This workshop is about connecting into the liberating life force of Spring and the element of Air for deep restorative and intimate connection. Connecting into the Magic all around us, and recognizing how we are connected to it can deeply aid us on our healing journeys. I created this workshop two years ago while undergoing some deep healing work of my own and helping my daughter on her own healing journey. It is the first of a four part series, each one focused on a different season and element and how that relates to us as Survivors and the connections we desire. Recently I felt a strong call to make this available and extremely accessible to all Survivors and I am very excited to share this labor of love and healing with you!
In this workshop you can expect to learn:
Tools for relaxation, embodiment and grounding using Nature/Spring/Air that can be added to your toolbox of healing resources
Rituals for release and renewal that you will want to use again and again on your healing journey
Information on the plants and stones associated with Spring/Air and how they help trauma and healing
A connection to a magical place you can visit on your own in the future
And much much more!
On Sunday April 7th we will spend the day in a beautiful location about 30 miles outside of Boone (60 miles outside of Asheville) on the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Carpool meet up in Boone will be made available. Please bring a few dollars to gift those willing to drive) This workshop is free, but gifts of gratitude are greatly appreciated and allow free workshops like this to continue in the future (Workshop is a $45 value). Dress appropriately for the weather as we will be outside all day and there is no rain date scheduled. We will do some hiking, but nothing strenuous. Please bring a bagged lunch and plenty of water.
PRE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED! Limited spots available. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to register. You will be sent a confirmation email within 24 hrs and more info and details will be emailed a week before the event. Please reach out with any questions you may have.
DISCLAIMER: Although we will not be processing our trauma in this workshop, it does involve inward journeys. Please be aware that trauma and shadow work is messy and often difficult. Only take part in what feels safe to you and have an emergency self care plan in place if needed. Take small steps and know that wherever you are on your healing journey is perfect in this time and place. Be gentle with your beautiful self!
For the total solar eclipse, I was lucky enough to travel just 3 hrs away and found the perfect private spot in a big open field. I drank reishi and hawthorn and built an alter to the sun and the moon and the intimate moment that they shared yesterday. I picnicked on a patchwork quilt and walked through fields barefoot in a twirly skirt. The light was ghostly and golden and the shadows strange and mysterious. Time stood still and moved quickly at the same time and I felt my whole body vibrate in lunar energy. The experience was breath taking, surreal and powerful.
I just experienced it.
I sat in that liminal and surreal space and took it all in, letting it unfold around me.
I let the eclipse’s shadowy fingers hold me in it’s hands. I was a moth vibrating, a flower emitting ultra violet glow.
These earrings and bracelet are inspired by my experience.
A cool and comfortable confidence for the odd, the unique and the awkward.
This is an essence for the odd folk, those who dwell in liminal spaces who never truly felt like they belong in this time, this dimension, this body, this gender, this species. For those who truly glitter with the magic of “something else”.
Wisteria will give you a cool and comfortable confidence that let’s you shine without stealing the spotlight. Wisteria lets your true light shine through without worry of judgement and insecurity.
This essence was crafted and charged in the sun and full moon.
This flower essence will revive those who give selflessly, giving resilience to the qualities of empathy and expansive love. It helps us harness the nourishment of nuturance and helps us give more fully from our places of wholeness.
Peach Blossom is known as The Selfless Mother, a flower medicine known for reaching in and unlocking the qualities innate to the best of mothers. This essence having been made in the snow makes way for an extra deep medicine that helps those selfless givers keep doing so even in the harshest of conditions.
This medicine called out to me for me to make it, and I find it to be a beautiful and tender heart opening medicine. I hope it can help more caretakers, healers, mothers, empaths and those who give emotional labor to keep giving in a healthy way with out burn out.