Saturday, March 4, 2017

2017 Hedge Medicine Workshop

West Hedge at RavenCroft Garden

March 18-19, 2017
Saturday-Sunday 10am - 4pm
$150.  includes: all instruction, 2 local foods lunches, Hedges of the World slideshow, hands-on practicum using traditional hedge crafting tools.
Payment options:
Send $150. check or money order to:

EagleSong E Gardener
PO Box 837, Monroe, WA 98272
PayPal $150. to EagleSong E Gardener

What is a hedge? What benefits do hedges bring to landscapes, large and small. Is this ancient tradtition applicable in our modern world? Whether you are a farmer, gardener or forager; an herbalist or ethnobotanist or aspire to be...this weekend course is for you. Feel the tools in your own hands while crafting hedges, fedges & podges. Walk hedges at a 1 acre site and a 10 acre site and see your own possibilities. Hear how hedges improve diversity and habitat for everything from birds & mammals to cattle & salmon. Practicing herballist, EagleSong Gardener and land steward, Mel Denham will be your guides through the weekend looking at hedge medicine, planted hedges, tools and tending, magic and medicine of the hedge... 
This is an experiential weekend engaging the whole person whilst listening to the the language of the land!

Hedge row management,...resources transforming!
The biomass created in hedgerow management, pruning of fruit trees and berry bushes, normal deadfall are all part of an integrated land use practice, I call social gardening or integrated earth medicine.

When living elements of a place move in a cyclic manner with nourishment as the prime objective, a sense of abundance begins to pervade the landscape.

Many hands...
In this fun engaging weekend you will learn how microbes and fungi transform wood and debris into nourishment for land and plants, when and how to use what kind of mulch, which plants, shrubs and trees will help you achieve your goal with the most efficient use of your effort...You'll see the "lazy bed" method of gardening at work, stacking functions and funneling your activity into an abundant, verdant garden for your health and pleasure. 

Gardens, like life, are in a constant state of emergence when allowed to move through the natural rhythm of succession. Creating property boundaries that define edges while remaining permeable and productive is the province of great hedges.
Here in that odd place "between", fruits, berries, perennial herbs and the great weeds take up residence!  

Visit the Facebook Event Page to learn more...
Mulch for garden beds this season! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2017 Workshops, Apprenticeships, Plant Medicine Rambles are taking shape...Check It Out!

New beginnings!

Healing From the Ground Up 

Herbal Apprenticeship 
returns to RavenCroft Garden
Monroe, WA

After a long sojourn...(more about that in the weeks and months to come)

The Barn at RavenCroft

Healing From the Ground Up

was the first Community~Centered Herbal apprenticeship offered in America! Beginning in 1996 as a CSH - Community Supported Herbal apprenticeship, the realization that Culture Rises From the Earth, morphed the apprenticeship into a CCH - Community~Centered Herbal apprenticeship. Today, perhaps, more than ever, an earth centered, woman-honoring tradition of herbal practice is finding her way home...

Apprentices in the Living Labyrinth

"After a long journey, I am very excited to be breathing life back into this much needed wise woman herbal apprenticeship in the Northwest." EagleSong Evans Gardener

Stay tuned for updates, recipes and remedies as winter unfurls toward spring...

The flumdiddley kitchen at RavenCroft Garden

The gardens, outdoor kitchen and living Labyrinth create the container for hands-on learning ala RavenCroft Garden. Come visit for an Moon Circle, a day workshop or a year apprenticeship. Join us for a journey through time as we remember who we are and what we're here for...

Joy, Hazel, and Handsome enjoying the nettle patch...

You’ll find more 2017 Herb classes, Workshops, Plant Medicine Rambles, Moon Circles in the sidebar to the right...take a meander and enjoy the blog posts...

May our green paths cross in the year ahead...
For now, breathe deep and enjoy the season where ever you are...

Green Blessings

Smokey Rascal aka The Shadow

Monday, April 4, 2016

Springing into Blue Podded Pea Soup

The beautiful blue podded peas are just 4-5" tall in the garden, now! We've been growing the Capucijner peas for several years. Hardy, beautiful, productive and edible as shoots, blossoms and dried peas, what is not to love?

Well, the reason I have them, is that my friend, Alison, another inveterate gardener, did not find them to her liking..."tough, too little return for the space and I plant peas to eat peas", she said, "not soup months later!"

I was more than happy to receive the small handful, that was Alison's entire harvest, some 5 years ago! The bi-color, tasty edible flowers and the blue pods fascinate me. The bonus...being an open-pollinated heirloom this pea is easy to grow and fun to save from year to year. I jumped at this opportunity to travel with the blue podded pea for a spell...

Blue pea shoots moving to earth...

Leeks, lovage and sorrel with Blue Pea seed from Ed Hume

Ready to learn more about the flavor and eating qualities of this Pisum sativa cv, I set a cup of peas to soak for cooking into soup. The dried peas are really hard and need an overnight soak to thoroughly soften while cooking. It took a few tries as we were getting acquainted. At first, I did not care for the toughness either. Now, I appreciate how coaxing tenderness out with long soaking really helps.

Lots of food fun in here!

After a visit to a fun French cookbook by Ginette Mathiot on loan from my friend, Johnnie; I headed out with basket in hand. Ginette's recommended leeks, lovage and sorrel are robust in their spring vigor in the dooryard garden and ready to join the peas simmering in the pot with onion...

Let's take a quick look at the herbs growing in the garden close to the house filled with quick and tasty fruits and vegetables and fragrant, colorful flowers.

Tiny leeks ready to plant
Leeks ready for soup!

Leek, in the allium cultivar group Allium ampeloprasum, can be easily grown from seed or you might find seedlings at your local nursery in pots. To plant seedling leeks, cut roots and tops back by half and then plant out in a nurse bed 2" apart in each direction. There, they grow until the size of a fat pencil. Next, transplant out 6-8" apart in their final site, dust with a thin top dressing of compost, water in, mulch and let grow on through fall and winter for spring eating. Leeks are hardy plants and a renowned symbol of the tenacity of the Welsh people, those folks from whence my ancestors came!

Lovage early spring growth
Lovage, Levisticum officinale, a member of the edible branch of the Apiaceae family,  an old-fashioned herb rarely seen in gardens today. Lovage is a reliable, hardy perennial with a flavor reminiscent of celery but more intense. At 6'-8' with interesting, textured foliage, lovage is a structural element for the back of the garden as well as a tasty addition to soups and stews. Lovage leaf, stalk, root and seed have been used in many cuisines throughout North America, Europe and Asia for centuries. While an interesting taste to brighten spring cooking after winter's heavy foods, remember, lovage's aromatic character reminds us to use a light hand in recipes...

Sorrel, Rumex acetosa

Sorrel, Rumex acetosa or her dainty wild cousin, Rumex acetosella carry the refreshing, sour taste raw or cooked to spring meals. An easy, carefree perennial, sorrel is a reliable addition to the table come spring. Fresh and light in flavor, this plant is a steadfast member of the dooryard. The sour taste has a cooling, moistening effect in the body making sorrels tasty, fare for encouraging the spring rhythms of clearing and lightening winter from our bodies as we prepare for the warm, movement filled season ahead!

Sorrel turned out to be the secret ingredient in the adventure of finding a Springing into Blue Podded Pea Soup recipe!

While I'm enjoying this conversation, a goat hoof needs tending. It won't be long, come back and sit a spell for the recipe and the next episode of Springing Into Blue Pea Soup...

Until can read more about peas and, in particular,
Capucijner Blue Podded Peas here...

Make time to go outside and play! If play doesn't cause Spring Fever, then it's a sure cure!!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 Cultivating Hedges and Edges at Jubilee Farm, Carnation, WA

Join farmer, Wendy Haakenson and herbalist, EagleSong Evans Gardener for a day of hands-on learning in the Hedge on a working bio-dynamic farm. The day will include:

  • A walking tour of 3 different actively growing hedges serving to contain livestock, preserve salmon habitat and provide nuts...a broken remnant hedge will also be explored reminding us of a time gone by when hedges were part of many Snoqualmie Valley Farms. With farm host: Wendy Haakenson
  • A slide show of different types of hedges and coppice woods in 4 different countries and their impact in local environments over time taken by EagleSong Gardener on her quest to understand the Gnarly Old Hag Hawthorn...
  • A sampling of Hedge Medicine made with local plants found in hedges and edges
  • A hands-on, experiential opportunity to work with hedging tools while laying a hazel hedge at Jubilee Farm
  • Hot beverages and snacks provided...bring a sack lunch for your enjoyment
  • Tuition: $65.00 for the day
To Register send a $25. non-refundable deposit by check or money order to:

EagleSong Gardener
PO Box 837
Monroe, WA 98272

Be sure to include:

Your name
Email address
Phone number

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Aronia Berry: A Perfect Fit for Your Kitchen Garden?

Blooming Aronia melanocarpa in RavenCroft's West Hedge

This morning found me and Joy in the west hedge gathering aronia berry. The A. melanocarpa, Viking, has been in the hedge about 15 years now. A prolific bearer and versatile in the kitchen, this berry is a delightful addition for most gardens and would benefit many a hedgerow.

Bioflavinoid rich aronia berries

The purple-black astringent berry is not a snack fruit for out of hand eating. It is best simply processed into juice, syrups, jams, wines and sauces. As an herbalist interested in optimum nourishment, it makes sense to include as many nutrient dense foods in garden and diet as possible and aronia has earned her keep in my garden...

Native to North America, aronia has found world wide acceptance as a food with deeply nourishing properties. Rich in bioflavinoids, aronia has the highest concentration of the antioxidant, anthocyanin, of any fruit, with elderberry running a close second. Improving circulation and strength of blood vessels, the berry may reduce blood pressure with regular consumption. Along with reducing general inflammation and specifically inflammation of the urinary tract adding aronia berry to your diet is a simple, delicious way to improve health.

Fresh harvested aronia berries

As a gardener, I enjoy the tenacity and vigor of the plant itself. Aronias are hardy, unfussy as to soil and will grow in sun and part shade. At RavenCroft the shrub holds a place in the damp, clay soil of the west hedge. Every year, even with wide variances in weather, the 6’ x 6’ bush consistently yields 25-35 pounds of fruit. 

Beautiful spring blossoms, aronia is in the rose family

A deciduous shrub, aronia begins unfurling her year round beauty with the arrival of deep green glossy leaves in spring. Having a leathery texture and somewhat fuzzy appearance, the leaves provide a great backdrop for the beautiful white flowers tinged with pink and  born in clusters on the branches. After the blossoms fade the dense green holds a steady place in the garden or hedge for the summer. Toward late summer the abundant green berries begin turning black. This is a bush that offers color and interest for months on end. 

As fall approaches myriads of deep dark purple black berries literally drip off the limbs. Easy to harvest in their tidy clusters, I picked 15 pounds in just under 30 minutes this morning. It was a fun morning to be gathering the berries, as the annual bike event riders were pedaling by and beyond the hedge I heard a steady stream of “thank-yous’ offered to the police officer guiding traffic around the tight corner...

 IronMan bike race and a stream of Thank-you's bless the harvest

Once the fruit is gone and the weather turns toward its cold and wet wintery self; the leaves turn a vibrant red signalling the dark days scented with wood smoke will soon settle upon the croft. 
Red leaves of fall

With Aronia wine, Aronia-Fennel Oxymel, Aronia syrup and vinegar in the cellar all is well and the weather just keeps life interesting!

See you at market!

If you’re already growing aronia or can find some at your local farmer’s market, give this delicious Aronia Chutney recipe a try and let me know what happens!

Tastes as delicious as the picture looks!

Aronia Chutney

2.5 # aronia berries
2 # apples any variety, chopped
1 onion, diced
3 yellow banan peppers, any variety will work
3 small pilloncillo towers of raw sugar (find at local tienda)
1 cup dark brown sugar, 2 if no pilloncillo is found
1 cup fennel flower vinegar
1.5 oz minced garlic
1 T ceylon cinnamon punded fine in mortar
2 lemons juice and zest
2 oranges juice and zest

Put all ingredients in kettle, bring to boil, simmer until thick. Enjoy fresh for up to one month refrigerated. Freeze or can what won't be eaten for later...Enjoy!

Aronia Fennel Oxymel

4# Aronia
2# apple cider vinegar
1# honey

Simmer aronia with vinegar until berries pop, crush with a potato masher, let sit until cool, press mixture through a mesh sack, return juice/vinegar to pan, heat with honey and fennel just long enough to dissolve honey. Strain and bottle. Store in cool, dark place.

Tangy oxymels are an easy way to preserve the harvest and can be enjoyed many ways. Enjoy with sparkling water for a thirst quenching, nutrient dense beverage, add to fruit salad to brighten flavor or to a vinagretter for a green salad dressing, enjoy off the spoon or drizzle over pancakes! Have fun imagining more ways to include this nourishing food in your daily diet.  Let us know what you come up with!

Until next time!
Be well, make time to go outside and play...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hot? Try Linden Healing Infusion

Linden allee along the river Avon in Evesham, England

Lindens, Tillia sp. have been presenting in beautiful and surprising ways in my life over the last few years. On pilgrim adventures to England and France, I came to appreciate how entwined their history is with the peoples of those places. Often planted in parks and used as allees in vast, spacious settings, lindens are ubiquitous. 

Lindens in a city park in Monroe, WA

Upon returning home to Washington state, I began seeing them everywhere as well. City parks and streets host many lindens in Seattle and outlying areas. In Monroe, WA where I live, there is a beautiful row of 10 lindens in one of our city parks. I've enjoyed gathering the flowers here for the last dozen years early in the morning as sunrise kisses the trees. At first they were so young I could stand on the ground, now, I bring a step stool and enjoy their growth as they rise into their natural elegant gesture with their heart shaped leaves and open-armed grandeur.

Linden flowers almost ready for gathering!

Today it's hot! It's been unseasonably hot for over a week now. I wanted a refreshing, cooling beverage with some nutritive value as it's almost too hot to eat! Voila! Linden healing herbal infusion with a hint of hibiscus added for heart health is born.

Linden Hibiscus Healing Herbal Infusion
Linden-Hibiscus Healing Herbal Infusion

Place 1/2 oz. dry linden flowers in a quart canning jar. Add boiling water and cover. Steep 4-8 hours. Strain. Return herb to pan, cover with cold water and bring to boil. Let sit until cool, strain and squeeze out the herb. (Feel the soothing, slippery quality of the linden flowers...sometimes, I just rub them up and down my arms for a quick soothing beauty treatment!) Mix infusions together top up to make 1/2 gallon infusion.

Place 1 oz Hibiscus flowers + 1 or 2 small cones pilloncillo* in a separate 1 quart canning jar, add boiling water, steep 4-8 hours. Strain and squeeze herb to garner all the delicious nutrients and flavors. This is a semi-sweet concentrate you can add to other healing infusions for taste and enhanced nutritive value. Refrigerate. Blends well with the sweet taste of oatstraw healing infusion.

Mix linden and hibiscus infusions together to taste, pour over ice, add a swizzel stick of lemon balm and enjoy the heat fortified with this simple, refreshing summer beverage!

This cooling infusion nourishes, reduces inflammation, adds nutrient dense bioflavinoids, soothes internal organs and allows a body to meet the heat of summer! 

*Living in a town with several Mexican Tiendas, I've enjoyed weaving flavors from the home places of friends and neighbors into my herbal repertoire! 

Local, common and easy to access herbs and foods abound closer to home than you might the fields, forest and yes, even the local tiendas treasures are awaiting discovery. What's growing in your neighborhood?

Remember stay cool, jump in a river or lake every chance you can and take good care with fire this very hot summer...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A May Day Love Potion

I’ve enjoyed tending several hawthorns in the hoop of life I travel each year. The hawthorns are among my favored allies because of their persistence, sense of humor and down right tenacity.

I travel the highways and byways of the Snoqualmie, Skykomish and Snohomish rivers for most of my herbal interplay now days. Settling into this triad of rivers and the medicine found here is an ongoing exploration in a layered, well-lived life.

Last spring I had, I thought, finished the hawthorn flower and leaf gathering when, low and behold, a sassy spring charmer flagged me down from the side of the road. Yes, her pink delicate blooms reached right out and grabbed my heart. Has that ever happened to you? It is one of the dangers of the practice of herbalism that few speak of, I refer to this phenomenon as 55 mile an hour botany.

Hybrid hawthorn in a bed of fern...

You know what I mean? Have you been at this long enough to know? Or, maybe you’re just beginning your herb wanderings, so I am going to tell you what others keep to themselves! Be Aware! You finally reach a point in your passionate affair with plants that the oddities and vagaries along the highway leap into consciousness as you speed by. As if possessed, you find yourself screeching to a halt, turning your vehicle around and going back to investigate! It’s an outright danger this way of life imposes on those struck with plant medicine syndrome! Be Aware!

Well, it was just such a time, when she, that young, crossbreed of a wilding lifted her skirt and yahooed me while I was descending upon the village of Monroe...With all the flirtatious energy of the May, she grabbed this crone’s heart and would not let go. “I’ll be back”, I called as I slowed and looked deeply into her limbs. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

Sure enough, the morning brought me into the limbs and sweet scent of the softest, apple-blossomed hawthorn I had yet to see in my valley meanders. Her delicate blooms as soft as a maiden on those tough, sinewy mother limbs anchored to the crone of her short, twisted trunk. “Take me home”, she whispered in a sweet, sensuous voice entwined with her voluptuous scent. “Take me home with you and let’s have some May Day fun!”

Back in the flumdiddley kitchen, I settled into a deep, listening trance as the pink blooms fell from hand to basket. She giggled, “See that pitcher over there?” she asked? “I want to go in there with some of that cool water in the jug from the spring. Then, I want to go out on the porch and bask in the sun for the rest of the day!” 

Well, this was easy enough to do. All those years of study and medicine-making and curing and fixing while expanding an understanding of life and herbs and medicine and spirit; I was enjoying this otherly directed fling with my new found ally. Evening rolled around and I went out to bring the sprite in. “Get your hands off me!” she curtly directed…"Do you not realize tonight is a full moon in Scorpio? I am now ready to infuse into the arms of the grandmother. Leave me be!” “Okay”, I said, she surely seemed to know what she wanted and I was perfectly content to see where this was heading…

Early the next morning as a warm sun rose over the eastern hedge, I went out to fetch the vessel now blessed with the sun and infused by the light of the moon. Whew! This was shaping up to be some strong medicine, indeed! All from a roadside imp with a magnetic personality! “Ready to go in?” I queried. “Yes!” she chirped. “I am ready to be strained and bottled”, came her brisk response.

After straining the golden liquid, a small splash of brandy was added to stabilize the brew. Then, we were off to the shop for bottles. There some very tiny, very cute 2 ounce bottles offered themselves up for the endeavor. “Yes, perfect”, she squealed. “That is just right!” I began pouring the very soft infusion into the very tiny bottles complete with very happy giggles and snorts. “We’re going to Wisconsin, we’re going to Wisconsin!”, her lilting song flooded the room.  Of a sudden a loud rattling was heard from the shelf where the dried herbs lay. 

I went over to see what was causing the ruckus. “Right!” they retorted. "We've been loyal and steadfast all these years and now some sweet young thing throws herself at you from the side of the road and you fall head over heels for her”, harumphed the dried old hawthorn berries gathered last fall. And every fall for the last 20 years from the same trees in the same hedge up valley. “You’re running off to Wisconsin with that side of the road cross breed?” they howled, "with nary a thought about us?"

“Oh, do I hear jealousy in your tone, dear ones?” I inquired. “You bet your booties you hear  jealousy in our tone” exclaimed the old fruitful ones. “Well, what would you like?” I asked quietly. “What would we like?” they grumped. “Yes, what would you like?” I asked again. “Hummm, well”, they mused, “We want acknowledgment, recognition and consideration, you know, respect, for our years of loyal service! And, we want to go to Wisconsin, too!” 

“Okay, what might that look like?” I perused drawing them out of their cave. “We want  3 dried haw berries in each bottle" came their quick retort. Then, we’ll all be in every bottle!  Compleat hawthorn, the entire valley, the best of time and place in each and every bottle!” “Perfect!" I smiled, as I placed 3 dried haws in each and every bottle. Capped and carefully placed on the shelf, they rested. Infusing with one another the sweet young blooms and the old crone haws bathed in each other’s presence. 

A few weeks later, off I went to give a presentation at the annual Bastyr Herb Fair. Off to the Fair went the very tiny bottles of hawthorn elixir, laid in a basket of dried haw flowers. I was giving an herb walk and talk on wild edges, hedges and my long friend hawthorn. At the end of the discourse, one of the very tiny bottles of Haw Elixir lept into my hand. As the lid was turned “Fisssst!” they squealed as they came fizzing out the top! “We’re so much more than an elixir now", they chimed together. "We are the Blessed May! We are alive and the Blessed May is alive and Love Potion is born!” With peals of laughter everyone sipped the Love Potion and, you know, in that moment, life sparked with love and everyone smiled!

Yes, the 3 of us did go to Wisconsin later that summer. No labels found their way onto the very tiny bottles. As they were placed on the marketplace table at the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference, life emanating from those tiny, well-filled bottles began to cause a stir. With the flirtatious tenacity of a young sprite and a certain staid presence of a crone some immeasurable essence lept from those very tiny bottles into the hearts of women passing by. “What’s in those very tiny bottles with no labels? they inquired. “Oh those”, I answered. “Hawthorn Love Potion! Would you like a taste?”

Bright Blessings of the May to you and yours as sun climbs again toward zenith and the dance of life continues ‘round the spiral...

For Hawthorn Medicine click here