FRESH IS ALWAYS BEST. I am very fortunate to live in a place I can harvest FRESH plant material from pristine wilderness for my creations. Few people have year round access to such a place. I have been exploring and learning these mountains for 27 years. I have memorized dozens of secret spots, deep in the wilderness where I wander silently through the forest with my dogs and often my dear husband (a true woodsman), soaking in the peaceful quietude of this magical place and filling my basket with wild plants.
There is ZERO agriculture; nothing is cultivated, nothing is sprayed with fertilizers or pesticides. Only wild mountain grasses grow and are harvested in the hay meadows on the valley floors. The nearest cultivated crops are at least 50 miles away and 4000' down the western slope of Colorado. Agricultural pollution from over-spray and surface water contamination are impossible due to the rugged terrain between us and them.
I collect my plants from areas where logging happened, but nowhere near mined areas or ore processing locations. Coal was mined in the area but little else. It was not especially widespread and impacted areas are well documented. All mining activities finally ended here almost 70 years ago. Today cattle and sheep graze the hillsides.
I use fresh leaves, needles, blossoms, bark & roots in ALL of my infused products - capturing the lively quintessence of the plants I collect. Infusing plant material fresh captures not just the healing compounds, but also the life force of the wild forest.
I use only materials from plants which are not rare or endangered. Below are a few of the plants I collect to infuse into my creations but ones which I use a lot.
THE WILD MOUNTAIN ROSE
The wild rose is widespread in the high rockies, and while the bushes do not get huge they are rather prolific. The buds open daily over the course of about a month and drop their petals within 2 days. They open quickly and by most accounts it is thought that the flower is pollinated even before the petals are completely open. We are blessed to have a healthy population of native pollinators! Harvesting the petals requires no more than pinching the petals getnly between your fingers. Just the petals will come off, and with no resistance. The reproductive organs remain, allowing the seed filled hip to mature. In the fall I return to collect a modest amount of these bright, reddish-orange hips for my creations and to dry for vitamin C rich tea to enjoy in the winter.
THE MIGHTY CONIFER TREES
One look around here and you will notice that our mountains are covered with millions and millions of Pine, Spruce and Evergreen Trees. Needless to say, pruning a few spring needles from the tips of a few of them has virtually no impact on the plant at all. Resin seeping out of small wounds on the trees hardens and can be collected directly from the tree using care not to cause further damage or expose the wound. Often chunks of resin fall off the tree to the ground, and collecting them from the duff there is a good method and the one I prefer.
(Plantain Herb, aka Medicine Leaf et al) This little plant is widespread in temperate regions. It came originally from Europe with the first settlers where it has a very long history of medicinal use and applications for thousands of years. Native Americans immediately added this useful plant to their cornucopia of medicinal herbs. It’s probably growing in your yard right now and you think it is a weed. Depending on the habitat it grows rather tall, or very, very small and barely noticable. It grows everywhere here, including in my garden, where I scatter the wild seed heads I collect each year. I am currently establishing a large plot of my own. In the wild I only take a few from each plant, so as to not damage the plant.