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6/4/2009 11:57:47 AM

June is the month with the most daylight. The longest day of the year is June 24, the day of John the Baptist, the light-bringer in the Bible.

Hypericum

One of the most popular medicinal plants, St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)—used in Weleda medicines, has a special connection to light and sun. Its flowers’ yellow color, the receiving attitude of its branches, the arrangement of its leaves so none is in shadow, and the way the cells hold the oil, visible in the petals and leaves as little points — the whole plant is like stored sunlight. With these characteristics, the plant can bring light to people who suffer from dark moods and depressions.

In the garden these days we have plenty of light, but not always enough rain. We’ve noticed the years getting drier, and the periods without rain getting longer, perhaps due to climate change. When our clay-heavy soil gets very dry, weeding and loosening the topsoil become difficult.

We have thought hard about installing an irrigation system in the fields. This would help the most delicate plants, such as cowlslip (Primula veris)—used in Weleda medicines, which we plant in June. Long dry spells can be very harmful to this plant, because its fine, slow-growing roots don’t always develop fast enough to reach the ground water.

Rosa rubiginosa Dulcamara Dulcamara

We harvest several plants in June, such as the sweet briar (Rosa rubiginosa), the only rose with scented foliage. On warm, humid days you can smell it long before you reach it — an apple-like scent with a note of resin. The flowers are simple, like a wild rose. We don't harvest the flowers or the kernels for oil, just the shoots.

The harvest of Dulcamara flowers—used in Weleda medicines--requires the whole team. The work, while not hard, is time-intensive. A 200 kg harvest of the violet-yellow, nearly weightless flowers takes more than four days. Since we cultivate the plants as a hedge, at least we can remain standing and save our backs!

Chamomilla

The chamomile (Chamomilla recutita)—used in Weleda baby care, skincare and medicines—can grow close to highways and industrial buildings, in very bad and compacted soils, and yet has many amazing healing effects, like a caring mother. We harvest the whole plant.

Equisetum fluviatile Equisetum fluviatile

The water plants harvested for medicinal use include the jewel-like water horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile)—used in Weleda skin care and medicines. The plant appears even more dazzling when water droplets and insects are on it.

Fragaria

Our deep-red wild strawberries are very aromatic. We harvest the berries for certain medicines. Luckily, we always have a bit more fruit than we need for production, so that each year one of the gardeners can make a delicious wild strawberry cake for us!

OnopordonOnopordon

We cultivate cotton thistle (Onopordon), a very big and structured thistle, for its flowers. Its shape looks a bit futuristic and square, different from the typical organic, smooth, round shapes of most plants. Insects seem to love the flowers, which we use together with other plants to strengthen the heart.

This month I'll travel to Portugal for the harvest of grape leaves, just one of our many projects where I consult with our local growers. The Portuguese climate, with its sun, regular winds and dry conditions, is optimal for these leaves, which we use in Hepatodoron—a medince to support the liver. Still, it’s a challenge to produce the quality we require. After harvesting, the leaves are dried in a solar dryer, a very good way to save energy.

My favorite product right now is the Sea Buckthorn Body Oil. Perfect for treating sunburn, it helps the skin recover fast by easing discomfort and smoothing irritated skin. And its citric smell feels like summer — full of light!

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