I’ve been working in the poly tunnel for the last couple of days, tidying up and emptying the beds and I have yet to wash down the plastic. We have had this poly tunnel for six years now and some of the wood along one of the raised beds has rotted away. I have taken a leaf out of my friend Colette’s book and I have replaced the wood with stone for a number of reasons. One, there is plenty of stone here in Connemara anyway so it won’t cost me anything; two, the stone acts as a passive solar heater, keeping the soil warm which should give great encouragement to next season’s seedlings; and three, there should be fewer pests because no rotting wood to house them.
I am growing a number of herbs here in the tunnel, including Bay, Thyme, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Sage, Parsley, Coriander and Yarrow. Yarrow is a very useful medicinal and magical herb but I should have kept it in a pot because it had gone crazy, spreading and taking over. It had pushed its way into the Lavender patch and I have had to be ruthless and pull lots of it out. (I feel so guilty when that happens). You can see the empty space around what I have left and I have put in two Pink Campion plants just behind it as they will fill the space and attract bees and other pollinators.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium is a valuable herb to have to hand, particularly if you work with sharp tools. The Warrior’s herb, named for Achilles who fought at the battle of Troy and healed his comrades’ wounds using this plant. His mother was the goddess Thetis and she did not want him to go to war. To bestow immortality on him she held him by the heel and dipped him into a cauldron of magical waters but the place where she had gripped the heel was left unprotected and this is where he was wounded. We talk about our own Achilles Heel when we are referring to an inherent weakness and our Achilles tendon runs up the leg from the heel.
Yarrow, also known as Bloodwort, is an excellent herb for bleeding wounds and nosebleeds. Another of its common names is actually, Nosebleed. To stop a nosebleed simply bruise some Yarrow leaf, roll it into a nasal plug and leave in the nostril until the bleeding stops before gently removing it. In the past, Yarrow was also used to start a nosebleed in the same way, to relieve headaches and migraines. With wounds, providing they are not too deep, put Yarrow into or on the surface of the wound to stop bleeding. It can also prevent infection due to its anti-microbial and anti- bacterial properties.
For women, Yarrow can help with both scanty periods, heavy periods and menstrual clotting. It works to lower blood pressure too because of the way it tones all blood vessels. Consequently it can also be remedial for varicose veins.
As it is so astringent it can be used where there is diarrhoea and to tone up a weak digestion. Yarrow is a renowned febrifuge herb which means that it will reduce fever and it does this by encouraging sweating, releasing toxins and increasing urinary flow. Like the majority of herbs, its components work with intelligence within our bodies to heal where healing is needed.
As a magical herb Yarrow is renowned for its protective qualities. Bruise a few leaves and place in your navel to ward off negative energy or psychic attack. It can be included in a smudge stick for the purpose of clearing negative energy from a house or person. Holding Yarrow in the hand stops all fear and brings courage. In medieval and Renaissance herbalism, it was believed that all plants were ruled by the planets and had other correspondences as well. According to these correspondences Yarrow is Feminine, under the power of the Element of Water and is ruled by Venus. As such it is used magically in love spells. Young girls would throw stems of Yarrow into the fire and look into the flames hoping to see their future man. Some would recite a verse, “Good morning, good morning, good Yarrow and thrice good morning to thee, tell me, before this time tomorrow, who my true love will be”. In Ireland and in France, Yarrow over the eyes could aid clairvoyance or by drinking an infusion ones psychic powers would be improved.
Bridesmaids carried Yarrow to weddings and if a bouquet of Yarrow was placed over the bed of the wedded couple they would at least enjoy seven years of wedded bliss.
If you would like to know more about the properties of Yarrow and the many ways to use it, consider signing up for one of the herbal health courses on offer.
Caution: Not to be used by pregnant or nursing mothers or children under 5.