My calendar this month features flax – linum usitatissimum . My first ever contact with this plant was in the form of the seeds – usually known as linseed. I always fed them to my horses - a cupful mixed into their other food keeps their coats healthy and shiny. So I knew it well. But for quite a while I never realised that linseed and flax were the same thing, and so I never really associated it with the plant which produces linen.
Nor did I realise that it might do my hair some good too. Then, a couple of years ago I asked my hairdresser what I could do about my hair, which at the time was horribly dry and straw-like. “Try this spray” she said, “it’s linseed oil”.
And now the calendar. I put off reading it for a while, as it was full of frighteningly long words. If you know a bit of German, you’ll know that it’s a language which uses compounds a lot, and can often chain four or five words in order to express a concept for which English has an individual word. So when I got to the bit where it described the medicinal uses I was confronted with Magenschleimhautentzundung (stomach-mucus-membrane-inflammation) which I guess is gastritis, and Nasennebenhohlenentzendung (nose-near-cavity-inflammation) – sinusitis, I presume. But please don’t quote me - my dictionary failed me miserably and I really am guessing.
I have to admit I gave up on the German and went to the web to see if there were any recommendations. As last month, the best site seemed to be Purple Sage which suggested that linseed was a good remedy for constipation. But, the same as the calendar, it warned that you must drink at least two glasses of water with the seeds as they need to swell in order to have effect. Both sources also warned that only ripe seeds must ever be used as the immature seeds contain traces of prussic acid and are poisonous. As ever, make sure you buy it from a reputable source.
Back on the balcony – I took the covers off this morning. We’re having daytime temperatures between 9 and 15 degrees, and the fleece was a bit of an exaggeration. It does, howver, seem to have protected the flower buds on my stock - they look fine. I shall keep an eye on the weather forecast as there’s still time for the temperature to drop, but for the moment spring is in the air. When I went out this morning, I saw that the grass in one of the squares near here was full of daisies in flower. And my bulbs are starting to push through as well. The forsythia, though, which is usually the first sign of spring, is still only just forming buds, so I’ll reserve judgement for a bit ….