This morning dawned bright, blue skied and beautiful, so I would have been crazy not to take full advantage. I pulled on my brightest pair of summer capri pants (they are cerise pink… I think you might be able to see them from space!), a white T-shirt and headed out into the garden. The plan was to weed, plant out, deadhead, replant and relocate. I managed to do everything I wanted to in under 2 hours and have just come in grinning broadly.
Gardening always makes me smile (and sometimes wince… actually, quite often wince!) but another reason for the happiness is that I found a plant that I didn’t know we had. Honeysuckle. Now, I love honeysuckle. I friend of ours gave us a honeysuckle when we got married, and along with cowslips, it rather took over our old garden. The honeysuckle did not make the cut for coming to this house, but the cowslips have been replanted already. However… I love the honeysuckle. It is a fabulous climber, so it can disguise some less than pretty walls and fences, and the fragrance is absolutely gorgeous. So, the fact that it is out by the back of our garage, competing with a wild rose and a rambling rose was a delightful surprise.
Even more, it was a bit of synchronicity, because yesterday evening I spent a good few hours musing about what I was going to write about today. I would love to be able to tell you that all these posts of mine were easy to put together and that I have a list of them that I am slowly ticking off. It is rarely the case that they are easy to produce, so yesterday evening, I got out one of my favourite herb books (Jekka’s Completer Herb Book – fabulous reference and fascinating reading) and leafed through it. To my surprise, there was a page all about Honeysuckle!
Apparently it is also known as Woodbine, Beerbind, Evening pride, Fairy trumpets, Irish Vine and Sweet suckle. Alfred Lord Tennyson referenced it in his poetry, and Shakespeare mentioned it in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Honeysuckle was among the plants that averted evil powers on May Day and took care of milk, the butter and the cows in the Scottish Highlands. It was also thought that if the flowers were brought indoors, it presaged a wedding, or if placed in a girls bedroom, the girl would dream of love.
You can, according to Jekka, who is a Herbal oracle of the highest order, you can pick and dry the flowers for pot pourris just as they open. They maybe at their palest of their colour, but their fragrance is at its height. You can also use the flowers in salads. The best flavour is before the nectar has been collected, again, when it is at it’s palest.
In terms of medicinal uses, an infusion of the heavily perfumed flowers can be taken as a substitute for tea. It is also apparently useful for treating coughs, catarrh and asthma. If you use a decoction of the flowers in a cream it is good for skin infections. There is also recent research to suggest that honeysuckle has an outstanding curative action in cases of colitis.
I have only ever seen it as a useful climber! But I now have a new-found delight in the plant!
Right… the shower is over, so I am back out into the garden again! See you again on Wednesday