Busy, busy being creative..!

Friday 14 June 2019

30 Days Wild & being a Wildflower Detective

Getting up close to wildflowers this month and learning about them as part of #30dayswild. This is Herb Robert.

Are you taking part in #30dayswild this year? And if so, what wildness have you been up to so far? [30 Days wild is a free annual initiative by the Wildlife Trusts aimed at encouraging everyone to spend time connecting with nature.]

I’ve been learning about wild flowers and realised that I’ve been doing some detective-ising! I must admit, I’ve always rather fancied being a detective.
Well, actually one of the things I wanted to be when I was a child was a forensic scientist, until I discovered what that *really* involved. No thank you. Also, my aptitude for the sciences didn’t cut the mustard, so I’d never have made the grade. It’s only been relatively recently that I’d been thinking about things I’d wanted to be growing up – Journalist, Spy, Forensic Scientist, that I realised they all have something I common. Finding things out. I do love finding things out, and also looking for interesting things….and I’m always doing it. Always asking questions and wanting to know more about things than sometimes is really necessary! I’m naturally curious.

So choosing one wild flower a day and seeing what I could find out about it has been so interesting and joyful for me and especially sharing what I discover with others via my Instagram account. For example; who knew that Herb Robert can repel deer and rabbits and can be used as a mosquito repellent if the leaves are squished and rubbed onto your skin [not tried it yet] and that the leaves of Red Valerian are edible? Or that the Romans used to put silver weed leaves in their sandals to help keep their feet cool during their long marches? And I’m only 14 days in! Its also encouraged me to get all the books I have about wildflowers and wildflower related-ness off my shelves and on to the flower identification station [dining table] including the book about sacred and healing beers that actually feature quite a few of our wild flowers and plants.  It’s starting to remind me of the love I once had for creating my own wild liqueurs and my interest in the medicinal uses of plants. Plants that are often considered to be weeds.

This has been an interest of mine on and off for a number of years actually and I seem to wax and wane with it. Are you like this with some things? For me I think my penchant for wanting to turn EVERYTHING into a project means that I’d lost touch with just enjoying things for what they are. I have to remind myself often that I don’t have to make everything a project. I don’t have to make every single beer in the healing beer book [and enter them into beer awards and set up a local brewing group even if that is a thought that crosses my mind [see how my mind sparks?!] I don’t have to go in search of every orchid across the UK [or the world] after finding a few during my dog walks. It’s enough to notice the one flower a day, learn a bit about it [I set myself a time allowance for detective-ising!] and then to stop at that.

I have a tendency to get overly obsessed by things which I’ve realised is part of my mental health and anxiety and so need to be acutely aware when I start going down this path – sometimes I get further down it than others! I’ve learnt to be mindful and notice the signals, to pause, and get myself out of that one way thinking. What’s this got to do with identifying wildflowers? Well, I’ve been struggling with my anxiety quite badly recently and I’m using the wildflowers to help me to focus on one small thing, doing that and then moving on to the next thing. I’m setting myself time windows or time allowances so that things don’t spiral out of control. So then I'm applying that to my other tasks and activates and it's helping reduce the feelings of overwhelm.

I’m also noticing certain qualities of these wildflowers that I'd like to have myself. Characteristics such as – tenacious, hardy, resilient and potentilla – which means ‘little powerful one.'

I’m going to carry on with a flower a day until the end of June and then reflect and see what stands out and what I’m REALLY learning about this, the process and what nature has to teach us.

If you'd like to see and learn about the wildflowers I’ve identified so far – skip on over to my Instagram page [@morwhennawoolcock]. If you know anything else about any of these wildflowers – please do share!

On the topic of Wild – this month on Saturday 29th June is the annual ‘Wild Night Out’ event which encourages us all to spend a night out under the stars. Don’t be put off by thinking that’s the only way to join in – you could have a wild picnic or a wild art-tanoon as I did last year [read about that here] Or even staying out in your garden to watch the bats flit about whist you’re wrapped up in a snuggle blanket – all counts! For more info visit www.wildnightout.org I’ve not really decided what I’ll be doing this year yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know just as soon as I do.

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