Sunday, 12 June 2011

Finding Comfort

7 June 2011

Artistic ingredients for Linctus
Our team was substantially reduced today, so Catherine, Christa, Amy and I took our time in a luxurious, leisurely way to tie up some loose ends and play in the gardens and laboratories of the RBGE.
Christa & Catherine preparing Spirit Collection

Christa was off with a start to complete her Herbarium Spirit Collection.  Arriving with a beautiful Columbine flower, she suspended it upside down, piercing the stem into a thin honeycomb seal and neatly bottled it in Copenhagen spirits.

Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace'
We then set off through the main gardens towards the West Gate in search of the elusive Black Elderflower, Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ in order to concoct a linctus this afternoon.  Having searched high and low we found the one garden specimen in the throes of a sharp pruning exercise at the hands of the trainee horticulutralists. Scrambling through the severed branches we were able to retrieve a handful of the delicate pink purply flowers – just enough for our purposes. 
Children playing at the RBGE
A quick stop at the Herbarium, allowed us a brief meeting with Kate Eden who was busy mounting up new species, but who loaned me an exquisite book on mounting seaweeds and mosses, 'The Pressed Plant', published in 1881. There are not many seaweed specimens in the Herbarium it seems, and this Victorian tome is still the most instructive manual in use. 

Wild harvested Elderflowers 
In the afternoon we made our Elderflower Linctus.

1) Infuse a handful of crushed and pounded Linseeds in 1 cup of very hot water for 1 hr or more. Add about 10 umbels of Elderflowers to infusion and another ½ cup of hot water and infuse for 30 mins to 1 hr.

2) Strain infusion and measure out 1½  cups into big pan.

Linctus ingredients
3) Crush in pestle and mortar 1 cup Gum Arabic and add to infusion. Heat gently until dissolved. Crush a handful of mixed spices (equal amounts of Star Anise, Allspice, Cinnamon, Cloves, etc)  along with 3 dessert spoons of dried Elderberries. Add to pan and allow to simmer 5 mins.

Elderflower goo
4) Strain mixture and return to pan. Add 2 cups icing sugar (or honey/raw cane sugar) and dissolve slowly.

5) Blend 1 cup Slippery Elm powder with 1 cup very hot water and mix to paste. Gradually add to linctus mix.

6) Simmer until mixture thickens and has a syrupy consistency.

7) Remove from heat and allow to cool or spoon directly into sterilised glass jars.

Finished product - Black Lace Linctus

Amy at her weeds!

The last hours of the day were spent back up in the Herbal nursery beds, continuing the perpetual weeding process and taking stock of what we had in the ‘cupboard’ for our exam preparations.

Recommended reading for the week
Fascinating ideas and images of the transformation that takes place in water when exposed
to positive and negative messages and meditation....
The Hidden Messages in Water
The True Power of Water
both by Masaru Emoto

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