Is there anything that embodies summer more than multicolored blossoms unfolding in the sunshine? For gardeners and herbalists, we wait for this eye candy all year long. It’s the time of year when we get to reap the beauty of what we sow. The harvest of fresh garden veggies is delicious, but flowers? Pure bliss! It’s the copper-colored poppies, radiant lavender, and magnificent mullein that we’re waiting for. There’s something about the ephemeral nature of the flowers that captivate our spirit. They beg the question, how can we preserve this beauty for year-round enjoyment? Through herbal tonics! Below are a few time-worn practices for the herbalist in all of us.
A flower essence is a water-based infusion. It is said to capture the energetic imprint of a flower. Anyone who has inhaled the aroma of a flower knows that each is different. Some calm you instantly, some inspire, and some give us strength or joy. A flower essence preserves the unique emotional and spiritual support flowers offer. There are endless resources online to help you choose which flower essence is best for you. They can be used internally like a tincture, or externally as a mist. Easy-to-find flowers that make beautiful essences include Mimosa, Goldenrod, Mullein, Motherwort, and Honeysuckle.
How to Make Your Own Flower Essence
- Fill a bowl with clean spring water.
- Pick a sunny morning to harvest. Choose which flowers you’ll be working with and take a moment to sit with them in gratitude– they will be creating herbal medicine for you, after all!
- Harvest your flowers directly into your bowl– hold each blossom with a tweezer, clip at its base, and let it drop into your bowl.
- Cover the surface of the water with a layer of flowers.
- To “infuse” your essence, place your bowl in the sunlight for 3-4 hours or in the moonlight overnight.
- After infusing, pour your essence through a mesh strainer into a clean glass jar with alcohol or distilled white vinegar (at a 50:50 dilution). Label the bottle.
- You now have a preserved “mother essence”– this is to be diluted, not taken directly. To make a “stock essence”, add 10 drops of the mother essence to a 60 mL bottle filled with 50:50 spring water and alcohol or vinegar. To make a dosage bottle, add one drop of essence from the stock bottle to a 15 mL bottle filled with 50:50 water and alcohol or vinegar.
One of the simplest ways to work with the magic of flowers is tea! In the summer, we can harness the power of the sun for a light and nourishing brew. Simply pick whichever flowers you like, adding them to a pint or quart-sized jar. There is no “right” amount to harvest. The more flowers, the stronger the tea. After harvesting, fill your jar with room temperature water. Cap it, and set it in the sun to steep. You can steep your tea on a windowsill, picnic table, or right in your garden for added whimsy! Some favorite sun tea blossoms include lemon balm, elder, chamomile, anise hyssop, bergamot, and any mint. Steep your sun tea for a few hours. Pour it through a strainer when you’re ready to sip. Enjoy it over ice, or as is at that perfect sun-soaked temperature.
Many flowers have the power of soothing and healing our delicate skin. They contain compounds like resins, polysaccharides, and tannins. These compounds preserve skin integrity, heal wounds, and ease inflammation. Much like sun tea, a solar-infused oil is a way to ally with the summer sun to create healing remedies. And guess what? The process is just as easy! Simply harvest your favorite flowers (you might choose them for scent, healing properties, or both) and let them wilt briefly in a shady, airy space. This allows the excess water (which could spoil your oil) to evaporate. Some wonderful blooms to start with include Calendula, Beach Rose, Lavender, Yarrow, and St. John’s Wort. Place your herbs in a clean, dry glass mason jar. Fill that jar with enough oil to cover the herbs completely. The kind of oil is up to you, depending on the price and feel. Jojoba oil is light but expensive. Olive oil is affordable and rich. Sunflower seed oil is an affordable and light alternative. Next, tightly cap your jar and let it soak in the sun for at least a month. When your oil is ready, pour it through cheesecloth into a jar for storage. That’s it! Your oil is ready for use immediately, or you can combine it with beeswax to make an herbal salve.
Which flower are you going to use next in your herbalist exploration?