Mr Burdock Is Happy to See You Now – Postcard from a Medicine Bed – Update

I can hardly believe that almost six weeks have gone by since I wrote this postcard for the Transition Network Social Reporting project at the beginning of the summer holidays.

Well, the burdock grew bigger and I grew bolder about keeping the medicine bed in shape with a bit of prudent clipping and pruning and help from my gardening friends. Of course we left the burdock and the equally huge fennel (and actually all the other plants) to grow into their full potential and ‘weeding’ remained gentle.

Every week people have stopped by to talk about plants and medicine, help tend the beds or bring a drink and a snack. It’s been really good fun with some great conversations. I’ll be writing a review on the Sustainable Bungay website in September. The weekly ‘surgeries’ will finish next Friday and after that I’ll still make visits, just less regularly.

Meanwhile here is the original postcard:

Thursday 19th July 2012
Bungay Library

Dear all,

Every Friday afternoon throughout the summer I’ve been visiting the Medicine Plant Bed at Bungay library community garden (north-east Suffolk) to see how the plants are doing and holding a ‘surgery’ where anyone can come along and ask questions or share knowledge about plants as medicine.

I’m curating the bed this year as part of Sustainable Bungay’s Plants for Life project, which also includes monthly talks, walks and workshops around the theme of plants as medicine.

IMG_8687 low res-350x263

I’ve been meeting up with Richard, who also keeps an eye on the plants and is a fellow lover of wildflowers, and each week we have a conversation that goes something like this:

Me: Gosh, the burdock’s looking amazing Richard. You know it’s an awesome blood purifier and helps restore health to the body’s systems when they’re out of whack. It’s called an alterative in herbal medicine. It kind of goes where the body needs it to go. Nick grows Japanese burdock (gobu) and makes a wicked dandelion and burdock beer from it. I reckon you could make the beer out of our native one, too.

Richard: You know, it will be full of bees when all those flowerbuds open. Oh, look at that honeybee on the herb Robert there. We should probably remove that lower burdock leaf though, it’s blocking out the light from the thyme.

Me: So it is. Could we reposition the leaf just a bit? It’s a shame to lose it. That doesn’t really work, does it?

Richard: Not really.

So we talk a bit more and at some point remove the one lower leaf and bring the thyme into the light. That is basically our ‘weeding’ session. You could call it gardening light.

One of the things that has really struck me with the Plants for Life is becoming aware of just how many different things one type of plant can do. Feed bees. Feed humans. Provide medicine. And probably a lot more that we don’t know about.

And all without moving from its home!

Well, if burdock is happy to stay at home for the summer then I am too. And if you’re passing through Bungay between 1 and 3 on a Friday afternoon between now and the end of August do come and say hello. You are also welcome to visit at any other time when the library is open.

Mr Burdock will be happy to see you.

with all best wishes for the summer, Mark

Sustainable Bungay, Suffolk, 19 July 2012

Me (l) and Richard Vinton (r) (The One Leaf Revolution) and Mr Burdock with the liberated thyme, July 2012

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