"Ask yourself, what plant has whispered to you all your life? Seemed to be standing there shining every time you looked down? What plant, when you first met it, just took your breath away even though you had no name for it and not a clue as to what to “use” it for?"
this is the plant you should be looking for! look around your landscape, not just the landscape at your house but the landscape you see regularly, perhaps on the route to work or school or shopping. is there a particular plant that you seem to notice over and over again? or is there a plant that has evaded you for years, no matter how hard you've tried to cultivate it that suddenly sprouts up where you least expect it? in droves?
in thinking which plant to select for my plant ally in the coming year, i thought about what barbara said and what susun has said about finding a plant ally and everything else i've read about plants coming to you when you need them.
7 or 8 years ago, i started a patch of nettles in my backyard in a small yard in town. when we moved here, i dug up some of them to transplant. the following spring, they came up but they weren't themselves anymore...they had no sting. i was unsure they were even nettles because of this and the plant just sort of went away.
every year i tried to grow nettles from seed again through broadcasting and starts in the greenhouse with no luck. i thought i saw him growing wild all around but when i'd try to sting myself, nothing. no nettles anywhere in sight on our property.
this spring, those seedling nettles started to take hold and grow finally.
then, one day i was tethering out the goats and stumbled upon a stand of nettles. a LARGE stand of him! i was so excited i just kept stinging myself over and over again. i harvested it and cooked up nettles for many meals until my partner complained about it. i walked our property and found several more areas where he was happily growing, as if he'd always been there and i'd just been too blind to see him...at the edge of the fence row, in the pasture, at the edge of the tree line and right up through the center of the old barn that had burned down years ago.
when i went to a local conservation area to do some volunteer work, again, i ran into huge stands of nettles. it was everywhere, even in the parking lot! with permission and lots of quizzical looks, i harvested much to give to a friend and myself and even did a cooking demonstration for a local school's class field trip at the conservation's request.
so, i'm thinking nettles would be a good choice for me to latch on to for the next year. i have about a half gallon of it left that i've dried and that will help get me started.
and don't forget too, what susun weed says about finding an herbal ally:
"Choose a plant that grows very near to you ... no more than a one-minute walk from your door. You don't need to know the name of the plant, or anything about it. You will be sitting with your plant every day, so, if possible, choose one that grows in a quiet and lovely place ... in a pot on your balcony is just fine ... in a park is great ... so is an alley ... or a backyard. "
for anyone else wanting to join in on an herbal ally but still can't decide which herb, try thinking back to the past year and see if there's an herb that has suddenly popped up on your radar. or perhaps a plant you have been flirting with for years, always drawn to it but never knowing why. this is the time to discover just what that plant is trying to tell you. look around and see what you can find. even in the stark landscape of winter, i'm sure there is a plant out there just waiting for you to notice him.
and if he's not growing within walking distance, don't worry about it. order some seeds or a plant start through horizon herbs or thyme garden to plant over the winter for growing on your windowsill. then, once spring arrives, you can transplant him outside close by for more observation.
if you are pregnant or hope to be while you are on your herbal ally journey, susun weed wrote a great article about pregnancy herbal allies and those you might wish to avoid.
next time, i'll write about some tools that can be useful for studying your plant ally. in the meantime, listen to the plants and discover which one wants to talk to you.
want to see others who are joining in on this journey? here's a list of those that are participating:
sarah chose voilet
karisma chose tansy
christine chose nettles
stephany chose burdock
joyceann chose dandelion
piper chose rosemary
*"teasel - my plant ally" by barbara hall, volume 1 issue 1 of plant healer magazine. you can see a sample of the full issue here and read her monograph (as well as many other great herbalists' articles as well).