Vampire’s Garden: Comfrey

comfrey
Photo via Mary’s Heirloom Seeds

Love Lies Bleeding‘s readers know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained in botany and herbalism, she still has a garden and studies plants. This post is second in a series exploring Mara’s plants. Are you  interested in botany, gardening, or plant lore? So are some vampires…

Please note: Medicinal uses are given for informational purposes only. Always consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating yourself.

Latin Name: Symphytum officinale

Common Names: Boneset, Bruisewort, Knitbone, Slippery Root

History: Native to Europe and parts of Asia, comfrey has a long history (at least 2000 years) in healing. It has been used to treat coughs and lung ailments, stop excessive bleeding, treat stomach problems, and to ease joint pain and inflammation. Its most common use, however, has been to heal wounds, bruises, and broken bones; in fact, almost every name (in all languages) for comfrey refer to knitting or mending bones or healing cuts and contusions. “Comfrey” comes from a Latin word meaning “to grow together,” and the botanical name “Symphytum” comes from the Greek, meaning plant that knits bones together. It was once also used as food for both people and animals.

Caution: Comfrey has been found to be toxic to the liver when taken internally in large amounts. It’s generally safe to use externally, but is best avoided by pregnant and nursing women, infants, and by people with liver, kidney, or vascular disease. It’s also toxic to animals, so be sure not to let them eat it.

Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: Home sweet home

Cultivation: Perennial in zones 4 to 9. Easy to grow from seed, comfrey prefers full to part sun and rich, well-drained soil. It’s quite adaptable and can survive less-than-ideal conditions, including drought. Sow early indoors or outside as soon as soil can be worked. Sow just below surface of soil and tamp down–keep seeds moist (not wet). Sow seeds or seedlings with 2 feet (60 cm) of space around them as the plants get fairly large. Once plants are established in a spot they can live for decades and be difficult to remove, so take care when selecting a site. Comfrey is generally non-invasive, although it can self sow.

Uses: Comfrey is still used externally to treat inflammation, joint pain, and closed wounds and bruises. You can crush fresh leaves to make a poultice, apply fresh leaves to the affected area, use a salve, or apply oil that has had comfrey steeped in it. Treat poison ivy blisters by rubbing a fresh leaf on them. You can also use the chopped roots to make salves, ointments, and oils (or use a combination of leaves and roots). Leaves are best used before the plant blooms; roots are best harvested in late autumn or early winter.

In the garden, nitrogen- and potassium-rich comfrey leaves are used as fertilizer, in compost, and as mulch. Avoid using stems as they can take root and spread the plant where you don’t want it. You can also make a compost tea with the chopped leaves by steeping them in water for several weeks and then straining and diluting the resulting dark liquid 12:1 before applying to the garden.

Mara’s Uses: She makes a poultice of comfrey leaves to help speed up healing of a particularly bad injury. Comfrey would be one of the herbs used to make salves and oils for her apothecary business.

Further Reading:

Permaculture Research Institute

Natural Living IdeasNatural Living Ideas

Comfrey Growing Guide

Mother Earth News

WebMD

Wikipedia

 

Writers and Cats

black cat holding persons arm
Photo by Ruca Souza on Pexels.com

Writers are known to have an affinity for cats, so much so that books have been written on the topic (the latest is Writers and their Cats by Alison Nastasi). As a cat lover, I get the appeal. Cats are good company, generally unobtrusive, frequently entertaining, and the perfect distraction when you need a few minutes away from the keyboard. If you’re lucky enough to have a lap cat, they’ll make sure you get work done by helpfully pinning you in place for hours (and they keep you warm too). My home would feel pretty sad and empty without my three furbabies.

Cats can also provide literary inspiration, especially to poets. T.S. Eliot wrote an entire book about them. Jorge Luis Borges wrote these words:

Mirrors are not more silent
nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
in the moonlight, you are that panther
we catch sight of from afar.
By the inexplicable workings of a divine law,
we look for you in vain;
More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun,
yours is the solitude, yours the secret.
Your haunch allows the lingering
caress of my hand. You have accepted,
since that long forgotten past,
the love of the distrustful hand.
You belong to another time. You are lord
of a place bounded like a dream.

-“To a Cat” by Jorge Luis Borges

It seems that what the ancient Egyptians started, writers are happy to carry on. I know I am.

Alice-Walker cats
Alice Walker
s king cats
Stephen King
ann m martin cats
Ann M. Martin
hemingway cats
Ernest Hemingway
colette cats
Colette
n gaiman cats
Neil Gaiman
le guin cats
Ursula K. Le Guin
murakani cats
Haruki Murakani

Do you have cats? Tell me about them in the comments. Tell me about your other pets too!

Read More:

7 Famous Writers and Their Cats

Iconic Writers and Their Cats

10 Writers and Their Cats

Famous Writers and Their Cats

16 Famous Writers and Their Cats

How to Create Your Wildlife Community

close up of rabbit on field
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Check out this guest post I wrote on “Druid Life”…

Druid Life

A Guest Blog from Aspasίa S. Bissas

Experiencing community is one of the more rewarding aspects of life, especially when you find it in unexpected places. In my last guest post on Druid Life I wrote about my wildlife community; in this post I thought I’d share some tips on how you can forge a relationship with your local wildlife and create your own, perhaps unexpected, community.

Learn About Wildlife: If you want to get along with wildlife, you need to know how. What do you do if you come across a nest of baby bunnies? Is it okay to feed birds bread? How should you react if you come face to face with a coyote? A great source of information are wildlife rescue organizations. Find the one(s) in your general area and check out their websites or follow them on social media. Here in Toronto we have a fantastic…

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Would You Rather: Book Edition

woman reading book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I thought I’d post something fun today, so I snagged this from A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings.

Would you…

1. Rather read only a series or standalone books?

A series. Standalone books can be unsatisfying, but I can happily read a good series for as long as the author is willing to keep putting out books. With a series you can also go back to the beginning and rediscover things you’d forgotten, or notice something new (technically you can also do that with a standalone, but a series gives you so much more to work with).

2. Rather read a book whose main character is male or female?

Female. I’m tired of the male perspective, which has really had a disproportionate amount of emphasis put on it for far too long. I’d also rather read female authors–they usually can write all characters with depth, not just the half they personally relate to.

3. Rather shop only at Barnes & Noble (or other actual bookstore) or Amazon?

I’d rather shop online. I’m an introvert and crowds make me uncomfortable. Also, shopping online doesn’t require pants. (Most “actual” bookstores have websites too–you can see a whole list of the ones that carry my books here–just scroll to the bottom.)

4. Rather all books become movies or TV shows?

I’ll have to go with TV because that format offers the chance to fully explore a story. The Harry Potter series would have been so much better if they’d made it into a TV show instead of movies, with one or two seasons per book.

5. Rather read 5 pages per day or read 5 books per week?

This is a tough one. I like to savour books, but 5 pages a day doesn’t give you much. Still, 5 books a week sounds like it would become a chore rather than a pleasure, so I guess I’d rather get 5 pages a day and fully enjoy them.

6. Rather be a professional book reviewer or an author?

Author. Done and done. 🙂

7.  Rather read only the same 20 books over and over or get to read a new book every 6 months?

If I can still re-read books I’ve already read, then I’ll take a new book every 6 months. If I can read only one new book every 6 months, I think I’d prefer the same 20 on repeat (if I get to pick them).

8. Rather be a librarian or own a book store?

I’ve thought about doing both, but I still sometimes dream about owning a bookstore, so I’ll go with that.

9. Rather read only your favorite genre or your favorite author?

Genre. Authors can stop writing, but there will always be something new to read within a genre.

10. Rather read only physical books or eBooks?

Physical books. They aren’t always as convenient to cart around, but I find them more enjoyable to read (and screens are bad for your eyes).

What do you think–do you prefer series or standalone books? Physical or ebooks? Share your answers in the comments below (and let me know if you do the whole thing and post it).

PS: Have you stopped by my book tour yet? Find out about my books, read excerpts and guest posts, ask a question, and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a sweet custom Love Lies Bleeding travel mug filled with goodies (including a little something handmade by me)!