3 Hands On Ways To Connect With Herbs In The City
When you think of an herbalist, what is the first image that comes to mind? A person in coveralls strolling about their garden, basket in hand? A lonely forager walking the path less traveled through a meadow, gently plucking and gathering herbs and flowers? Or, perhaps it's a store owner with years of experience selling all kinds of herbal remedies.
All of these are ideal images of what makes an herbalist, but for those who dwell in the midst of heavy traffic, paved roads, and skyscrapers, having any kind of connection to herbs may seem impossible.
I'm here to tell you it isn't. There are plenty of ways to connect to herbs while living in the city or even the suburbs. You don't have to be a mountain dweller to have access to herbs or to form a deep connection with them. Let's see what we city dwellers can do to find our connection to herbs.
Grow Herbs In Pots
This should come as no surprise. Most herbs grow just as well in pots as they do the ground. If you don't have a yard, this is your best bet for cultivating a relationship with a living plant. Raised gardens and planter boxes are also useful. In fact, I've found that chamomile and lemon balm, did very well in planter boxes. If you don't have a patio, having a small planter box or pots indoors next to a window will do just fine.
Having these herbs alive and growing in or around your home is a wonderful experience. Take the time to get to know these plants, listen to them, hell, even talk to them. Experiment and watch them grow. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, every relationship has it's ups and downs. Reading on how to care for herbs is fine, but until you get your hands dirty and get into the "doing" rather than just the "reading" you're going to miss out on building up those relationships.
Start small. Connecting to herbs doesn't mean you need to connect to five herbs at once. You don't even need to start from seeds unless you would like to. Walk into any store that you know sells plants or buy from your local nursery and pick out an herb that you know you would like to work with, or one that calls to you.
Not everyone is a gardener, and you certainly don't have to be to start your herbal journey, but having live plants in your home will certainly help you find that connection to the herbs you are interested in.
Work With The Herbs In Your Kitchen
Don't feel comfortable growing plants? Perhaps you simply don't have the the space or time. Well, don't worry, there are others ways to connect to herbs in your city habitat. Let's take a walk over to your kitchen cabinet. Bet you've got some herbs in there you never thought you could connect to.
Most people don't realize, but their city home is filled with herbs. We use herbs in our cooking and general consumption on a near daily basis. Herbal connection is by no means limited to tinctures, oils, and slaves. You can build a strong relationship with your herbs just by simply cooking with them.
And those herbal teas you buy at the grocery store? Yep, those are also great ways to introduce yourself to herbs. There may be a specific type of tea you are drawn to, or one that benefits your mental and physical health. Don't just rely on that herbal tea to fix your symptoms or soothe you from a long day of work, get to know that herb. If chamomile tea is something you drink every night before bed, take a moment to really taste and experience the herb. Pay attention to how it makes you feel. Attune yourself to the emotion and physical response you get when consuming the herb.
But, what if you're not a tea drinker or you don't like cooking.
Carry The Herb With You
Yep, just carry the herb with you. People might not understand why you have a bottle of herbs in your purse or strung around your neck, but hey, people were crystals for comfort, don't they?
Sachets are a nice way of carrying herbs with you. I find that small mesh bags filled with my herb of choice can be a great way to ground myself and find the connection I seek.
During my first trimester, I was still working and I was so stressed because I had awful morning sickness. As anyone can guess, having to run to the public bathroom near your workplace to deal with nausea is not pleasant. Pretty soon I found that just by caring a small sachet of motherwort with me helped with my stress. It didn't help with the nausea, but I found comfort in that herb and continued to carry it with me until I left that job for a move.
This may seem more along the lines of something spiritual and impractical, but herbs are themselves alive and everyone finds a different way of connecting with them. I've even seen some people carry loose lavender in their pockets. We at Little Willow Herbal Crafts sell herb necklaces. Check out our selection here.
There are plenty of other ways to connect to herbs in the city. Take a walk outside, pay attention to the plants and the trees around you. It's likely you'll find some plantain growing somewhere, or even spot a cluster of dandelions in a park or someone's yard. Maybe don't go foraging for these (aside from trespassing, there is no telling who is using pesticides in what areas) but say hello to these plants. See when they bloom, when they die, when they sprout.
Don't let city living defeat your herbal ambitions. Anyone can connect to herbs anywhere. It's just a matter of how creative and intentional you want to be.