Herbal Tea Chains

Wednesday, March 9, 2011. Lori Weidehammer led us in a herbal tea chain workshop where participants learned to identify health-giving herbs, dried fruits and spices. While enjoying the pleasure of each others company, community members created herbal tea chains to take home to make their own infusions.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Creative Remix Summer Camps Begin at Moberly!

July brings the hot weather, above 20 degrees Celsius and close to 30. July is all about watering gardens and going on as many bee safaris as possible. It's about how many iced teas I can consume without overdosing on caffeine. My morning ritual now includes making a smoothie from berries picked in the back yard: white strawberries, black raspberries and red raspberries. Any other berries leftover from snacking go into the blender with coconut water and yogurt. I brew tea to go in the refrigerator. I pack iced tea made the day before, sunscreen, gardening gloves, clippers, scissors, extra deodorant, and a change of clothes into my bag. I'm teaching at summer camps this month and chances are we're going to get sweaty and mucky working in the garden. That's what summer camps are all about!

 I lugged the hose out of the basement and brought it up to water the herb garden. Before turning on the sprinkler I watched a female house finch eating aphids off these artichoke plants. You go girl!

The theme of this week's camp is "Together", so I am focussing on the act of collecting. We will collect and draw weeds and herbs. I explain the definition of a collection: things gathered together to study, admire, and display. Although, I explained my favourite thing to collect is friends (awww!) and they can't be displayed. But I do collect photographs of my friends and family, and I collect photographs of bees. You can map my life by the things I have collected. Apparently I started out as a toddler gathering tiny black pebbles. I went on to collect all kinds of rocks and fossils for years, then stickers, then vintage clothing and now I collect vintage honey pots, books, and photographs. I bring some of my books so the kids can research the plants we collect. Before we head into the garden, I go over the garden etiquette and bee safety.

A performance art named  Caroline Wright did a piece in which 100 people with hairdressing scissors cut a checkerboard pattern out of the great lawn at Ham House I want the children to mimic this by creating their own tic tac toe board in the grass and examine the plants that get cut. We find clover, dandelions and small plantain leaves, stems in buds. The heat is so oppressive, we have to cut it short and draw plants inside the community center. (Next time, we'll do this activity in the shade.) I take small groups into the garden to do a tour and take cuttings for their collection. We take cuttings of lavender, catnip, California lilac, wooly lamb's ear, chamomile and sage. The key is to teach how you can collect something and be respectful of leaving enough for the others to collect, for the plant to photosynthesize and for the plant to support insect life. Taking a small group helps me to keep them focused.


There are wooly carder bees defending the stachys, honey bees in the nepeta, bumble bees in the nodding onions, and tiny sweat bees in the California lilac, and today the yellow jackets are very noticeable as they patrol the yarrow for prey. The kids are thrilled to spot insects on the plants. A camp leader finds a very colourful beetle in her hair. I hope the campers spend the rest of the week visiting the garden to look for bees.

We set up a hydration station with jugs of water with fresh mint and lemon, (a la Lori Snyder). The kids use washi tape to stick the flowers and herbs to their paper where they write the names of the plants. Some find the time to draw the plants, but two hours passes quickly.

Could you water the kids at the same time you water the garden?" Lorrie Wager asks. Great minds think alike! As a finale to my workshop I turn on the sprinkler and invite the kids to go for it. We have a blast. Suddenly I don't feel like I'm forty seven years old any more-- I'm just another kid at summer camp.

Text and photos by Lori Weidenhammer

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Save the Date: You're Invited to a Hummingbird Garden Party, August 11 from 2-4 pm

You are cordially invited to a Hummingbird Garden Party at the Moberly Cultural Herb Garden August 11, 2013 from 2-4 pm.

This is a family-friendly event where you can learn about hummingbirds in Vancouver and how to attract them to your garden. We will be giving tours of the Moberly Cultural Herb Garden and more!

New Garden Trellises by Rebecca Graham at Moberly!

 If we work in gardens, we're not going to let a little rain get in the way of our schedule. We commissioned artist Rebeca Graham to help our scarlet runner beans and sweet peas by creating some unique support structures. On a drizzly muggy morning she got down to work, as did this little ladybug laying her eggs on the silvery leaves of an artichoke plant.

 Rebecca has been working with Alastair Heseltine at VanDusen Gardens and she is very excited with how his willow structure is progressing.  His piece is in a show curated by Celia Duthie and Nicholas Hunt called Touch Wood.

 I love this trellis! We need a few more of these around the garden. Would you like to learn how to make one?

 As Rebecca worked on the structure, I pruned and weeded the garden with a couple of little helpers. We tried to allow more air to circulate around and within the plants.

 These "God's Eyes" are a really lovely detail in the work.

 I love the way this sturdy but delicate structure gives us a new way to view the plants on either side.

 The plant with the red flowers behind the structure is called Red Valerian or "Jupiter's Beard."  It's starting to go to seed right now.

The bees were loving these nodding onions. There was a sleepy bumble bee on the parsley blossoms next to the onions. We petted the bumble bee and when the sun came out it woke up very thirsty, running its tongue along the surface of the parsley looking for nectar.

 We will train some of the beans laterally along these "willow men".

Here's where the sweet peas will climb. There are a couple of plants blooming already from seeds that fell on the ground from last summer. The ones I planted will have red blossoms to attract the hummingbirds.

This sea holly was falling over, so I made a wabi sabi sea holly girdle.

Many thanks to Rebecca and our garden gnome helpers.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lori Snyder at Moberly: The Healing Power of the Plants Around Us

"Water is about hydration, but it also helps with the communication within your body," Lori Snyder states as she pours us cups of water infused with peppermint or lemon balm. "This is especially important for seniors, as they don't always have the sense of being thirsty." Lori has been an herbalist for many years, and she and her husband are accomplished foragers. She has a deep knowledge of the health benefits of plants many of us don't see or notice growing right under our feet.

 Take plantain (Plantago major or minor) for instance: she shows us how to chew a leaf, spit it out and put it on a bee sting to draw out the venom. When I recall that first nations people used to put the leaves in their shoes, all the ladies want to try it on their tender tootsies, so I pop outside and pick handfuls of Plantago minor leaves growing in the lawn.

 Lori lets us taste honey she has infused with rose petals, and another, with the tips of the Douglas fir tree. These are great for colds and sore throats. She shows us St. John's Wort, which she infuses and then uses in winter to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder. As it can make you photosensitive, it's better to use in winter months so you don't get sun burned. "Where can you find this?" one of the ladies asks. "Anywhere," Lori says. "It's all around us. Sometimes the medicines we need are right close by. And they're free. Also, plant-based medicines don't have the major side effects of many convention medicines."

 Lori gave us an empowering workshop, helping us to take control over our health by learning about the potent medicines in local plants. "First you've got to learn to breathe," she says. "That's the most important thing." She learned this from her yoga teacher training. Lori goes on to say that she believes plants want to heal us, they want to give us their energy and their medicine.

 Next, she takes us into the kitchen to teach us how to make healthy vegan brownies. Can you see the secret ingredient below?

Beans! You'd never know it! The brownies were delicious, especially with a dollop of Steve's salmon berry jam. What a treat!

 We drank tea made from rooibus and hawthorn flowers and leaves. It's calming and very good for the heart.

Lori talked us through other plants that are worth harvesting for our medicine cabinet. "Dandelion is one of the best medicines around!" she says. "The root is good for your liver and its bitter quality is important for digestion, especially as we get older."

 Lori makes us a refreshing smoothie with all kinds of greens, including chickweed and sunflower sprouts and coconut milk. "Do this for yourself once a day," she advises.

Thanks to  Lori for an inspiring and energizing workshop!

On another note:

Our thoughts are with the ladies who were injured in a recent bus accident and we send our condolences to the family who suffered a great tragedy this past week.

--Text and photos by Lori Weidenhammer

Friday, November 25, 2011

Art Grows Community Something Collective

Something Collective hosted an open studio session in The Incubator on Sunday, Nov 20, opening the doors to community members and like minded artists to share and discuss arts engagement with the Sunset Community. Something Collective artist, Juliana Bedoya created this text based piece out of moss on the concrete foundation at the art centre- one of the many guiding principles that inform their practice.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dividing & Sharing Herbs

Horticulturalst, Aimee Taylor led us on a herb dividing session last weekend in the Moberly Herb Garden. Community members dug, divided and selected their favorite plants for their home gardens. Aimee assisted members with understanding the herbal characteristics of each plant, suggested suitable planting strategies and guided our decisons of which herb required dividing.