Spring Herb Walk at Old Heathfield, East Sussex

An early spring walk near Old Heathfield, East Sussex. The day was beautiful, a little cold and windy (as you will be able to hear) but so exquisite. Nature is breath taking in its beauty and I hope you can get a little of this in my video.

Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita) Shingle Beach at Eastbourne June 2011

I could write a few books about this herb, but I won’t otherwise you won’t have time to read about all the other fabulous plants I have written about. It looks like a large daisy with loads of feathery little leaves and has a strong apple scent when crushed.

Chamomile on the beach

Every self respecting Tudor garden had a chamomile lawn and there is a chamomile seat in Kew Gardens. Actually I haven’t been there for a few years so I hope it is still there. It is the flower heads that are used which contain volatile oil, chamazulene, flavonoids and tannic acid. I’ve already told you volatile oils are antibacterial and chamazulene is known to be active against staphylococcus aureus. As well as having anti bacterial properties chamomile is a wonderful digestive system herb, stimulating the production of digestive enzymes and has relaxing and calming properties.
Chamomile is mentioned in ancient herbal pharmacopoeias and is still one of the favourite plants used by modern day Medical Herbalists.

If you want to drink it as a soothing night time drink instead of tea or coffee, you can usually find a preparation on the shelf of most supermarkets. Make sure these do contain just chamomile, as many herb teas are blends of plants.
You can also buy the loose flowers from an herb supplier or if you have it in your garden can pick it and dry the flowers to store throughout the year.
The rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of dry flowers to one cup of boiling water, just as you would make any other tea. Leave this to stand for five minutes, strain, let it cool a bit and drink. Ok if you have a sweet tooth you may put some honey in it, but it does taste nice on its own. Monsieur Poirot (he of the “Poirot ee as been so blind”) calls this a Tisane.

Linda Bostock
Medical Herbalist

A Herb Walk at the Long Man of Wilmington, May 2011

What a glorious walk we went on today. It was one of those perfect days, blue skies and little fluffy clouds. Not too hot and not cold.

We are looking after our daughter’s dog while she and her boyfriend are on holiday.

Her name is Bo but AS-BO suits her much better as she tries to rule the household somewhat.

We took her and Henry dog and ourselves to the long Man in Wilmington which is about a 10 minute drive from our home and in the South Downs.

The long man is a chalk figure carved into the hillside, but is a bit of an enigma as no one knows its actual date. It could be ancient or it could be Victorian. Certainly the Victorians are known to have put white brick on the figure to preserve it.

It is an unusual chalk figure as it appears to be holding walking sticks and has no male bits and pieces which makes me favour the Victorian theory, or it is actually a long woman.

At the Foot of the Long Man of Wilmington

Above the long man are some very ancient burial barrows so the whole area has a magical feel to it.

Today I wanted to go and photograph a hawthorn tree that is half way up the hill, which I have been photographing in all seasons and all  weathers.

On our way up the hill I saw that the elder flower in the hedgerow is just starting to flower and the wild plants in the hedgerow, cow parsley, nettles, dock and herb Robert were all growing so profusely the path was about half the size it normally is.

There were sky larks singing whilst on the wing and sheep in the field. The colours seemed exceptionally vibrant with the grass very green, the sky very blue and the sheep with their babies very white and fluffy.

We walked right up above the long man and stood on the barrows turning a 360 circle to see the countryside around us.

View from the Long Man

From there you can see the sea towards Brighton, the White horse chalk carving on the opposite hill, Arlington reservoir, the undulating weald and the South Downs heading off towards Eastbourne where they end. It is a view that makes you catch your breath every time and not just because you are panting and puffing from having climbed the hill to get up there!

Very often on our walks on the downs we find off cuts of worked flints which would have been used as small knives and scrapers, but today I kicked a piece of chalk on the path and when I looked down at it, saw that it had an Ammonite imprint on it as well as some shell imprints. Just a little reminder of how the South Downs were formed!

Right at the end of the walk and due to the dog running in to the edge of the field we saw a largish patch of fumitory growing. I was rather pleased as I have not seen fumitory growing in East Sussex before although I know it likes scrubby land.

I love that walk and confess I take all our visitors there.

To read more about the plants seen in this video, go to the ‘Herbs and Health’ section of the site. To find out more about the conditions mentioned, go to the ‘Health’ section

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist