The meadow is a lake of grass and flowers. It seems smaller and tighter here now than in the stark bleached landscape of winter.
A gipsy-gold glow from the buttercups hovers over the meadow. Ox-eye daisies sway alongside the old stone wall.
I turn my attention to the witch hazel bush. The name Witch in witch-hazel has its origins in Middle English wiche, from the Old English wice, meaning "pliant" or "bendable". The use of hazel twigs as divining rods may also have, by folk etymology, influenced the "witch" part of the name.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis) soothes and tones varicose veins and other skin problems. It’s a mild astringent usually made from the bark of the witch hazel tree, but try the leaves to see which works best for you.
Well-known herbalist Samuel Thomson (1769-1843) used the leaves quite successfully.
I collect some leaves to make some myself. This is how I make it but don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what’s best for you.
8oz witch hazel leaves
¼ pint of water
¼ pint of cider vinegar
- Put the leaves into a saucepan and pour in the water and cider vinegar. Boil for 5 minutes, turning the heat down a little so that is bubbling but can’t boil over.
- Turn off the heat and leave to cool. I keep pressing the leaves with a spoon during this stage to try and extract the maximum amount of goodness.
- When cool pour through a sieve and decant. Today I used an empty screw top bottle (a mini wine bottle like the ones you get on aeroplanes). In the summer I will decant it into a pretty jar which has been decorated by one of my daughters, and will keep it close by in the summer heat. Nothing cools hot skin like it.