the energy of flowers at Brantwood A collaboration between Jane Alexander, Sarah Atkinson and Sally Bamber
Message from the garden Jane Alexander Come dance with me; Come play with me; Come rest with me; Come be with me. In my nature, I am a place of hope. I am the place of a rebirth; A place of new connectedness between mankind and Mother Earth. I hold within my reach the energy of awakening; The energy of new growth; The energy of a deepening relationship between Earth and man. Come walk within my leafy walls; Come rest a while; Come allow your mind to wonder at the beauty I contain Wonder opens a doorway. It opens a doorway to the possibility of change. As you wonder, you reconnect with that childhood part of you that was amazed to be alive, that was amazed to be here, in this world. It is easy, is it not, to forget the gift of life? To forget the magic and the majesty; To forget the variation in form that life takes. Here, within my boundaries, you can be reminded once more. My energy makes it safe to be open. Safe to rest in your own heart space - in your own openness. Come join me here. Come meet me with fresh eyes and an open heart.
knapweed centaurea nigra date drawn 150714 found in the hay-meadow Jane_”I am a teacher of genuineness. I help to heal rifts in the personality. I help you to be at peace with who you are, exactly as you were grown. I help you to overcome memories of criticism and feelings that have risen in your being about not being good enough as you are. My energy helps you to be okay with the personality that you have - with the being that you are. I will help you to overcome self-imposed limitations so that you can achieve what you are here to achieve - be who you are. You will feel my eﬀect wherever in your body you are storing memories of past cruelties or where you are carrying self-rejection. I am a gentle healer. I will bring you home to yourself. Sally_I’ve seen this a thousand times, and I’ve pulled it out as a weed, thinking it unsightly. But now I’ve spent time thinking about them in a new context, as part of the haymeadow family. This particular sprig came out of the chunk of meadow that Brantwood gardener Ruth dug up for me to take home to my studio.
red clover trifolium pratense white clover trifolium repens date drawn 120814 found in the hay-meadow Jane_red clover_ “I am a healer of women. Turn to me when you are trying to make sense of your womanhood or when you are trying to make sense of your relationship with the Earth and your experience of your relationship with your mother or your daughter. I will help you to journey into your womanhood. I will help you to understand what it is to be a spiritual being in a woman’s body, for your existence to be shaped and deﬁned by the rhythms of the moon, by the calling of your own biology. I can activate the profoundest, deepest healing within you. Take me as a tea to open your heart and mind to transformation. white clover_”likewise, I resonate with the healing of the feminine. My energy will take you beyond the more human experience of feminine. I act as a bridge to connection with the divine mother. Turn to me when you are heart sore or alone. I will help you to feel held by life, safe and loved. Sally_I painted this while sitting under the oak at the edge of Coniston Water on a summers’ day.
ribwort plantain plantago lanceolata date drawn 150514 found in the hay-meadow
Jane_”My energy is rebalancing. I will help your body to return to its optimum balance so that all your bodily processes may take place with ease. Sarah_Ribwort plantain has been used primarily as a healing agent for wounds since Anglo Saxon times - ‘the plant sews the gaping wound together as with a golden thread, and like rust never gathers on gold, so all putridness and proud ﬂesh ﬂies from the ribwort' Father Sebastian Kneipp. When my son Alex and friends were exploring the woods around Beckfoot as fourteen year olds, they obviously took an old unpredictable penknife with them - we found out later. Only one boy cut himself and in anticipation of his cello lesson later the same day he spent the rest of his time with us with his ﬁnger wrapped in a pounded plantain leaf. His ﬁnger healed cleanly and he always mentioned his herbal experience when ever we met subsequently, whether in favour or fear I was never really sure, he is now studying to become a doctor. Sally_Poet Maggie ﬁrst brought this plant to my attention. I have dismissed it for years as an uninteresting weed, but now I love how the tiny ﬂowers that form a ring around the central bud open so that if it was ﬁlmed on a time-lapse it would be like a hoola-hoop rising up the bud!
eyebright euphrasia oﬃcinalis date drawn 280614 found in the hay-meadow Jane_”I cleanse your vision and bring foresight, helping you to discern the best path to take. Turn to my energy when you are in need of support to make decisions and to divine the right way ahead for you. I resonate with the 3rd eye, with dreaming, scrying and with seeking the truth. Sally_Mixed among the hay-meadow ﬂowers, curiously they grew much taller this year than last. .
self heal prunella vulgaris date drawn 230713 found in the hay meadow Sarah_A cooling herb for fevers it contains a wide range of vitamins; it is also anti-bacterial, lowers blood pressure, restores your liver, staunches bleeding, is an excellent eyewash and useful for treating piles. Pulped leaves are superb for healing wounds. Truly 'self heal' said Thomas Bartram. Sally_Sarah introduced me to this plant on a herb walk in the Duddon, from then on I saw it everywhere, it is resilient on lawns, growing back each week after mowing, growing tall in the hay-meadow.
meadow buttercup ranunculus acris date drawn 230615 found in the hay-meadow Jane_”I uplift the senses. I am resonant with joy - turn to me when you need cheering up or when you have forgotten how easy it is to ﬁnd joy. Sally_I’ve seen buttercups painted in so many ways that I needed to feel more set in my method of working before I made my own take on its presentation. Buttercups are often abundant and full on, the Brantwood hay-meadow is no exception. .
yellow rattle rhinanthus minor date drawn 120713 found in the hay-meadow Jane_”I contain the wisdom of expansion - I will teach you that it matters not where your seeds fall. It matters not which grow and which do not. It matters that you scatter them. Sally_I can recognise the leaves as it grows now. In my little pot of Brantwood hay-meadow I can see the stages it goes through so that when I’m breathing in the haymeadow I can see it’s progress.
wild strawberry fragaria vesca date drawn 160715 found on the walk to the mountain garden
Jane_ When I am allowed to grow my own way; When I am not forced, I bring the energy of gentle uplift. I can lighten your load, making it easier for you to be here and to be present. I bring joy. I lift a tired heart and ease the strains of the day. I am a gentle tonic. I will ease, sooth, calm, still. I will remind you of lifeâ€™s sweetness even when you are weary and sad. I bring the gift and the wisdom of acceptance. Acceptance is the doorway to lasting peace. Sally_Itâ€™s lovely to walk around my garden in July and collect a handful of wild strawberries, they are yummy. They grow anywhere. At Brantwood this was drawn sitting on the path leading to the Mountain Garden.
fox and cubs pilosella aurantiaca date drawn 220814 & 230615 found on the harbour walk Jane_Tuning into this ﬂower is starting to take me on a shamanic style journey so I thought it might be helpful to narrate this: So I am experiencing a not altogether unpleasant, but none-the-less pressured sensation in the centre of my body - sort of pushing up from my solar plexus to my heart space and I am very aware of ﬁre energy. And what is starting to happen is that I am starting to become aware of a particular vision space - its a wide open space - a sort of meadow which is full of the fox and cubs ﬂowers. Now I am moving though the space and a female ﬁgure is starting to appear and the ﬁgure is clearly the spirit of the ﬂowers. And as I start to approach her, I have feelings of intense energy in my head, in my womb and in my heart space. And she is speaking to me of transformation. She is saying: Come daughter of Earth it is time to change. You have laid the ground work for an elevation, a transformation of who you are. Now you must just step beyond. I am gifting you with my energy because I am an energy that helps you to take risks. To walk your own path and dance to the rhythm of your own drum - your own heart beat. I help you to establish your own space in the world. Your own family. And in the vision, this woman is now placing her hands on my body and I am feeling all the cells of my body vibrating. There is a sense of power - awakening I guess. And the surges of energies are starting to settle and I am feeling a new sort of groundedness. The vision is starting to fade and I am feeling more like myself again. More awake. But everything is more vibrant and I feel more connected into this part of the garden where I am. Everything is brighter. It feels a bit as if I have been hollowed out somehow - there is still sensation in my abdomen. - Wow! Quite a ﬂower! Sally_I love how this buds purple and opens to hot orange with a slightly cooler centre. It’s a small patch at Brantwood and I have delighted in the larger patches by the High Cross Inn at Broughton-in-Furness.
st john’s wort hypericum perforatum date drawn 020814 found in the hortus inclusus garden
Sarah_There are many varieties of this herb, the perforatum has tiny amounts of a red oil in it's petals and upper leaves, if these parts of the plant are put into sunﬂower oil and placed in direct sunlight for 6-8 weeks an iridescent red oil is produced which is powerfully antiinﬂammatory; because it is a ﬁxed oil it doesn't need diluting and can be applied directly to painful joints and tendons, it may alleviate pain suﬃciently to replace painkillers in a person's diet. The sunshine herb, widely known as being useful in treating mild to moderate depression, especially SAD. Also useful for evening out the mood swings that may occur during menopause, I'm sure that it has saved lives. On a more cautionary note - take care in sunlight when taking st john's wort because it may make you photo sensitive and bring you out in a rash. Sally_St John’s Wort is lovely the way the red buds develop and open into little yellow stars. It’s confusing too as it comes in many sizes from the large Tutsan to the ﬁne Slender St John’s Wort.
viper’s bugloss echium vulgare date drawn 230515 found in the hortus inclusus garden Jane_What is really clear about this ﬂower is that, in shamanic terms, it acts as a sort of bridge to the upper world which is a kind of transcendent space - beyond the everyday. So what is happening, as I sit with the energy of this ﬂower, is that I am being taken oﬀ on a journey again. I am experiencing the sensation of being lifted up and out of my body and I have intense sensations in my third eye and my heart space. There is a staircase and I am climbing the staircase in the vision and I am emerging into a sort of a temple - sacred space. Its similar colours to the ﬂowers - it’s beautiful. This time I am here to meet with my soul. My soul is giving me some images of what is coming in the future - she is just conﬁrming one or two things I was sort of aware of already. There is a sense of joy and upliftedness. My soul is giving me a choice - there is a safer/easier way forward and a more challenging way. And I know that if I take the more challenging way my sense of connectedness to all things will deepen so its a bit of a no-brainer really! So now I’m going through the doorway and there is a sense of climbing steps going upwards again and I’m starting to leave my soul’s energy behind and so I’m starting to leave behind what is mine and starting to enter what transcends what is mine. The edges of myself are starting to dissolve. It is very bright like - It feels like I’m going back in time. Ok... this is the beginning of the earth. I’m resting in the energy of the earth at her beginning and she is starting to form... it’s amazing. I’m starting to see the genesis of things. The pattenings. I’m now moving forward very quickly and I am in the energy that becomes plants. And I’m kind of feeling that experience of being plants... and how they are all coming from one origin and how they are one consciousness within it - now that awareness has sort of exploded away... and I’m starting to - it’s hard to explain it - I’m feeling how I am the plant space and at my edges are all the forms that plants take... everything - absolutely everything. Plants I could see if I opened my eyes and plants that are no longer in physical existence and plants that are yet to be in physical existence... and plants that are on the other side of the world and I could move into any of those spaces if I wanted to but I am choosing to stay within the middle - the sort of everything & nothing space and I can feel the weight of the unhelpful relationship mankind has with plants - the pesticides and that ... thats it -it’s the interference - man’s interference... the control. And I can feel why I am getting this vision - there is some healing I need to oﬀer here - so I’m sort of plugging into this control energy and running light through it. And as I do that there is a sense of the symbiotic relationship between me and the plants and I am really feeling this teaching about control and how control is the problem and that the earth is sick and that’s why people are sick because we cannot allow what is. I’m starting to fall down from this space now and the vision is starting to fade. Sally_This plant jumped out at me, I had been watching the leaf shape as it grew, not knowing what it was. Jane and I spent time with it still not knowing, then of course there is the pronunciation of the name that made me smile; bug-loss or bu-gloss. There is so much going on with this ﬂower and some similarities in construction to phacelia.
yarrow achillea millefolium date drawn 280814 found in the hortus inclusus garden Sarah_As a folk remedy it is often used to staunch bleeding - bleeding to the third level, arterial bleeding. Using this idea and a Maria Treben's case history I encouraged a patient with ﬁbroids who suﬀered from painful and heavy periods to bathe in yarrow tea, using the bath as the tea cup; after only a few baths her symptoms were much reduced and life became manageable again. Sally_Over time I have passed this ﬂower without actually seeing it because the ﬂower-head resembles a large family of this type of structure. I was in the Hortus Inclusus Garden with my pencils and paper and it was time to draw the yarrow - as I spent time with the plant and studied the soft ﬂuﬀy leaves and the formation of the ﬂorets I engaged more with its individuality.
lady’s mantle alchemilla vulgaris date drawn 060613 found in the hortus inclusus garden
Jane_”I hold the wisdom of self-acceptance. I bring teachings of going with what is – ﬂowing with what is. I can make my home anywhere because I am not constrained. Turn to me when you are doubting. Turn to me when you doubt your right to be the way you are. Turn to me when you are holding tension in your body because you are straining against what is. I will help your body to relax, Be still, Allow. I will help you to come to terms with all that you are; that which you judge good and that which you judge lacking. I have particular aﬃnity for reproduction. What could be more allowing of life than the process of birthing life anew? If you seek to allow what is to ﬂow through you then I am the companion you need. Sally_It grows relentlessly in my garden, I spend a lot of time pulling it out, but in the Hortus Inclusus it’s controlled and I love the way the leaves hold the dew and rain.
bistort or easter ledges persicaria bistorta date drawn 280515 found in the hortus inclusus Sarah_Powerful astringent, very high in vitamin C. Before supermarkets were invented early spring was known as the 'hungry gap' a time when stores of food had either run out or they were beginning to sprout ready for growing. This time of year also coincides with Lent a time when certain foods are 'given up'/not eaten anyway - in celebration of the end of Lent and the arrival of Easter, Easter Ledge pudding was made, mainly in the north Lakes and Yorkshire. A grain, barley or wheat was mixed with an onion, Easter ledge leaves, dandelion leaves, gooseberry leaves, blackcurrant leaves and clovers plus an egg and then wrapped in a cloth and boiled. A much needed dose of Vitamin C was provided by this pudding. Jane_”You made a mistake when you reduced us to our function. You made a mistake when you determined that some of us were good to eat; that some of us were good as medicine and some of us were good to look at. You made a mistake when you reduced us to our function. We all have our part to play in creating wholeness. We all serve. And just because you do not understand our deeper nature and its function, it doesn’t mean we do not have one. All things have their correct place. It is only when this is ignored that things become out of balance. This is the great challenge that Earth faces. All is out of balance. This great art of categorisation is just an excuse to limit what is. Be careful that in your quest for knowledge that you do not lose sight of the bigger picture. It is not enough to know our constituents – instead seek to know our wisdom. Seek to understand the whole – be careful that your quest for understanding does not blind you to your own nature and to the nature of all things. Thought can restrict and limit – only wonder opens the heart and the mind to truth. In your own gardens, away from this place, consider the principle of balance. Garden to create balance. Garden more from instinct and intuition and less for speciﬁc impact. The garden that you create is a reﬂection of your own connectedness with yourself. Through your connectedness with yourself, you come to know all things. Sally_This is an abundant curbside plant, it was tantalising to drive past for many weeks during 2014, having to wait till spring 2015 before I could spend some time with it in the Hortus Inclusus Garden.
foxglove digitalis purpuria date drawn 280615 found in the hortus inclusus Jane_”My wisdom, my energy, is easy to discern. For if there is one thing you know about plants, you know that the foxglove is poisonous. I am a plant of pause, of endings and beginnings. When you see the foxglove, you stop, recognise, pause for a moment. I create a space, a break, an ending. I allow you to stop, rethink, reconsider and move on. Resting in the ﬂow of life is not a case of being passive; it is an act of being deeply engaged. Part of this engagement is that act of review. Take time to consider why you have made the choices you have. Take time to consider whether things best serve you. Allow yourself the chance to let go. It is time for a journey. Come with me.... Allow my energy more deeply into your body. Do not be afraid. In this form, I will simply release all that no longer serves you; all that is stagnant from your body, from your heart. Allow me, allow this connection with me. Allow yourself to journey back to a place where you made a choice that was ill-advised. Allow yourself to see this moment as if from the outside. Allow yourself to witness the fears that led you to this decision... ....and now let them go. Give my energy permission to eradicate from the cells of your body, these fears. Allow yourself to be freed from this patterning. You no longer need this. It is safe for you to let this die. Let it die. And as this is released be aware of how a whole page of your life’s story is likewise being released. Allow yourself to be liberated from your story. Now be aware of the rush of energy through your system as you begin to ﬂow once more. Allow the ﬂowing. Allow what was once cut oﬀ from you to ﬂow freely through you. This is what it means to ﬂow. Sally_This is a ﬂower we carry from childhood, we’ve always known the name. They are contained in the Hortus Inclusus Garden and wild everywhere else, this year, 2015, they are in abundance in my own garden and I love them. They stand taller than I do as I walk among them.
solomon’s-seal polygonatum multiﬂorum date drawn 030615 found on the trellis walk Sarah_Solomon's seal has 'Intelligence to set bones.' Matthew Wood I came across this plant three years ago during a trip to America. Over breakfast with herbalists on their herb farm I found myself describing demonstrating to my children how to slide on a frozen tarn on Great Stickle only to land with great force on my coccyx, this had happened 15 years before, but my coccyx was becoming very painful. They immediately recommended taking solomon's seal root tincture - I have had little discomfort since. Their experience with this herb was with a neighbours dog that was hit by a car and had it's jaw dislocated, a passenger was needed to hold the dog on the way to the vet's and as this passenger worked at the herb farm he took a handful of Solomon's seal root with him and held it to the dogs jaw; after travelling about 5 miles they turned round and came back because the dog's jaw had relined itself and the dog was bruised but otherwise ﬁne. Sally_We had some elegant solomon seal in our garden in London. Sarah’s anecdote on this plant it wonderful.
tansy-leaved phacelia phacelia tanacetifolia date drawn 230615 found on the trellis walk
Jane_”I reward the energy of contemplation. As I draw you into me, I draw you into yourself. I contain the mystery of life, the wonder of it. As you consider the seeming contrasts that lie within me, you will come to accept that you too are a creation of seeming contrasts. So often do you expect yourselves to make sense; expect yourselves to be logical; expect a wholeness that is linear, when in fact your wholeness is as contradictory as mine. The secret to peace is to widen your expectations of your Self to accept that you are incongruent in your congruence. That you are imperfect, perfection. That you are multiplicitious in your wholeness – you are as I am. My energy simpliﬁes and puriﬁes. If you rest a while with me you will ﬁnd a greater sense of peace and acceptance because you will ﬁnd it easier to let go of your own expectations of your Self. Breathe, breathe, be free. Sally_The ﬂuﬃness of this ﬂower was what I saw ﬁrst, soft fur with scattered delicate little mauve ﬂowers.
common dog violet viola riviniana date drawn 230415 found below the trees in the fern garden Sarah & Jane_the dog violet is part of one of the Medicine Garden Meldings; the Shift Group, this group is focused on spiritual development and wellbeing. It supports the spiritual journey and the emotional growth of the individual. Meldings are prepared using the plants which grow in Sarah’s garden and wild in the area, Willow water and organic alcohol – with the channeled vibrational energy of the plants. The world ‘melding’ is a Middle English word which means ‘blending’ which seemed to capture the essence of the Meldings themselves. http://www.medicinegarden.com/meldings-shift-group.php. Sally_These violets are among the early spring ﬂowers. It was a calm morning sitting on the steep Fern Garden path, below the trees spring canopy, with gentle sunshine and visitors making their way past me as I drew.
This collection of insights and anecdotes has been compiled to conicide with a major solo exhibition of watercolours by Sally Bamber ‘Flowers at Brantwood’ including the hay-meadow, woods and heathland. Jane Alexander Jane is an energy practitioner and intuitive who works from a place of deep awareness of the interconnected nature of all things. She oﬀers treatments and workshops which arise from this sense of her connection to life; working with crystals, plant energy, sound and massage. www.sacredspace-reiki.co.uk Sarah Atkinson Sarah is a Medical Herbalist, she focuses on what we eat and drink combined with listening to peoples life stories, which makes her approach to dis-ease much more holistic. www.medicine-garden.com Sally Bamber Sally is an artist and graphic designer, she works from her studio in the Duddon valley, Cumbria, making watercolours of wildﬂowers that began with studying the ﬂowers in her garden. Sally paints portraits in oil and loves working with charcoal. www.sallybamber.com
A collaboration between Jane Alexander, Sarah Atkinson and Sally Bamber; insights, anecdotes and watercolours