Spring zing

Spring is in full glory at last on Exminster Marshes. Lots of pussy willow in flower, complete with willow warblers, and blackthorn and cherry blossom too. Closer to the ground, there are suddenly bright fresh dandelions everywhere. The French call them ‘piss-en-lit’ for their diuretic action, and use the leaves in salads. You can blanch them by putting a flowerpot over the plants for a day or two (in your own garden, obviously) before picking the leaves, so that they taste less bitter.
For medicinal use, though, the bitterness is a blessing. As a diuretic, the leaves have a special virtue: they are so rich in potassium that they more than replace what you might lose in urine, so there is no risk of hypokalaemia. The roots we use to make a wonderful gentle liver tonic, just the thing for the end of a long hard winter. And the best thing to do with the flowers, apart from simply admiring their beauty, is to turn them into dandelion wine.
What else is new? Lovely patches of ground ivy in flower. Bumblebees were making good use of it; for us, it makes a mucous membrane tonic to help clear stubborn sinus congestion and ear problems. And great drifts of primroses, soothing for sore throats and tickly coughs. Best of all, a mild south-westerly, and real warm sunshine.

0 comments