Once more the wheel turns and my garden is bursting with bluebells, violets and lilac. The lush blues and purples enticing me out to play and discover the baby nettles that make the best nettle soup, the beginnings of Herb Robert and of course the most prolific greenery of cleavers.
I cannot think or see cleavers without a heart pang of loss and gratitude as I remember the most amazing herbal wizard and ally that was Christopher Hedley, (RIP Christopher Hedley. 1946 – 2017). The cleavers stay eternal, reminding me of the time I saw him for nerve pain after radiotherapy. I wrote a blog about it here many moons ago if you want to check it: https://cancerguineapig.com/2013/06/01/herbal-helpers-what-you-need-is-often-in-your-own-back-yard/ He simply invited me to walk with him along Camden canal and look for cleavers to gather.
This magical herb is a lymph cleanser extraordinaire and comes under the astrological influence of the moon according to medieval herbalist Nicholas Culpepper. Also known as Goosegrass, Barweed, Catchweed, Cleavers, Stickywilly, Zhu Yang Yang, or its latin name Galium Aparine it grows in abundance from March until July. August if you are lucky.
Christopher simply told me to pick loads, wash it, put it in a saucepan and soak it overnight in cold water. In the morning drain it and drink the water throughout the day.
You can also make a herbal infusion which is particularly good for the dried herb if you do not have access to fresh cleavers. For dried herbs the legendary shop Baldwins in Elephant and Castle London do a good quick online delivery service. Put a good handful of dried cleavers in a 1 or 2 litre mason jar, fill with boiling water and put the lid on. Steep overnight and drain in the morning. Drink throughout the day.
I have been doing a spring detox using this method with dried cleavers, ground ivy and burdock since the middle of march. I am now starting to pick and use the cleavers in my garden! I have to fess that I live near an Ikea and was delighted that they do cheap 2 litre mason jars and green funnels like the one my sieve is sitting on!
If you want a more food orientated way to use fresh cleavers here is a link to the wonderful seed sistas site on how to make a spring vinegar.
And to finish this little blog here are some magic words from Christopher Hedley himself.
‘The virtues of a herb are its strengths and qualities: Its inner potency, expressions of its vital spirit and of the way it is in the world. The way a herb is in the world will inform it of the way to be in your body. We prefer this term to the more modern ‘uses’. Herbs do not have uses. They have themselves and their own purposes.’
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.
I hope you found it helpful
Love and Empowerment