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The Time for Nature to Awaken
3/20/2009 3:11:00 PM

March always feels like an in-between month, not winter but not yet spring. The days are gray and cold, and the trees are still bare. But you can sense that nature soon will burst forth. Already the birds tell us so with their songs.

In March the gardeners return from winter break, full of hope for a good season with all growing factors in harmony.

Here in the medicinal garden it’s the month for root harvesting. The soil remains wet and cold, while the plants’ exposed parts bear traces of the long winter. It’s difficult to imagine that strong, beautiful plants will emerge in a few weeks. But when you take the root, brush off any soil and look carefully, you can see little strong shoots coming out — a sign of intense vitality. Now is the optimum time to harvest them.

Now, too, the greenhouse bustles with activity. Many different plants get seeded in boxes to germinate, such as Primula veris (cowslip)—used in Cordiodoron for heart health and circulation; Taraxacum (dandelion)—used in Amara Drops for digestive support; Articum lappa (burdock root)—used in Rosemary Hair Oil to treat dryness; Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)—used in Melissengeist for digestive support; Ruta graveolens (common rue—used in Rx medicines and Capsicum annum (pepper)—used in Rx medicines.

The propagation of Bryophyllum—used in Rx medicines—is special and unique to witness. First we harvest big leaves from mother plants and lay them out on sand compost mixture in seed boxes, keeping them warm and wet. After two weeks, little new leaves start to grow on the edges of the harvested leaves and eventually develop roots. When they are tall enough, we separate them from the mother plant and have brand-new young plants.

Snapshots from our March Harvest

Helleborus niger (Christmas rose)—used in Rx medicines:
This plant flowers in wintertime with beautiful white petals — a magical sight in this gray-brown landscape. During this season we harvest the plant’s upper part and roots.

Iris germanica (iris)—used in Iris Facial Care and Rx medicines:
Its beautiful violet flower and elegant appearance make this a favorite of mine. Its rhizomes (underground stems) and roots have a high capacity to store and regulate water, and therefore prove useful for regulating humidity in the body, such as for the skin.

Peucedanum ostruthium (masterwort)—used in Rx medicines:
For a long time we collected this plant’s roots from its home in the Swiss Alps. For my bachelor’s thesis I worked on cultivating the plant in our garden so as not to interfere with the Alps’ sensitive ecosystem. From the start, Peucedanum ostruthium (known as masterwort) has grown very well in our garden — it does not seem to miss the mountains. And it now gets attentive care from our gardeners, too!

We then harvest it.

Some of the other roots we are now harvesting...

Angelica archangelica (garden angelica)
Apocynum cannabinum (dogbane)
Atropa belladonna (belladonna)
Bryonia cretica (white bryony)
Chelidonium majus (greater celandine)
Cochlearia amoracia(horse radish)
Levisticum officinalis(lovage)
Paeonia officinalis (common peony)
Potentilla erecta (erect cinquefoil)
Rumex crispus (curly dock)
Symphytum officinalis(comfrey)

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