Discovering wildflowers at Rvasi Cottage and Skadar Lake
At Rvasi Cottage, wildflowers are at their peak display right now.
As a newcomer, I'm everyday amazed how wild nature are speedy blooming here during spring. From leaves less trees and brown boring soil to full green landscapes, plants and colourful flowers, all these happen just in a month frame. So many wildflowers are popping around everywhere and everyday creating a new and endless scenario for us guests and visitors.
Lately, getting to know deeply wild flowers and plants has been one of my hobbies. I take my camera, make a pic and check every single new discovery with google lens. Wildflowers at Rvasi Cottage have so far never disappointed me! It's always a new treasure found! Not just because of the beauty of the flowers but also for their properties, medical & culinary uses.
It was right when I moved here that I learnt about foraging. So many wild plants have a culinary use, not just as a seasoning but also as prime ingredients for delicious recipes. I will dedicate a full single entry post for foraging. But for now, you can enjoy some of Villa Miela's delicious recipes, also using local wild plants growing here, at Skadar Lake.
Wildflowers awake on me an extraordinary sense of wonder. Despite being unsupported and exposed to varying weather conditions, they have developed an excellent resistance to wear and tear to offer an unrivalled beauty. Because they grow wild, they are also free, to be or not, to grow or not, to stay or not, to last or just disappear from the land and move elsewhere.
Wildflowers are excellent honey bees supporters when widespread declines around the globe. Having wildflowers in the garden and landscape is indeed a magnificent support to a more functional ecosystem. In addition, wild flowers and plants provide food for birds and predatory insects and increase natural pest control of fall armyworms.
One of my favourite wildflower, it is what myself named "the blue start"; better known as Fennel or black cumin flower.
So tender, "the blue start" is a whimsical flower. It grows in the most unexpected places; at Rvasi Cottage, it has chosen to grow hidden near our piles of wood. Flowers don't last that much but they leave behind precious seeds of black cumin.
The black cumin flower is first mentioned with the Hebrew word "ketsah" in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, although its scientific name is N.Sativa.
Since classical times, it has been an appreciated condiment; black seeds have many culinary uses as a natural seasoning or flavouring. In Palestine, the seeds are ground to make 'qizha' paste.The dry-roasted seeds flavour curries and vegetables. They can be also used as a seasoning in recipes with fruit, vegetables, salads, and poultry. In Germany and other European countries, black cumin is the distinctive ingredient of their delicious rye bread. It is also used alone in the Bengali cuisine in many recipes, the most recognizable in "naam", and in many countries in the Middle East to make a braided string cheese called "majdouleh" or "majdouli "
Furthermore, the medicinal use of Nigella has been highly relevant since the times of Charlemagne. The alchemists regarded the black cumin as a valuable remedy for various diseases as dyspnea. It has been also known for having proteins and alkaloids and for helping in having under control blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol. In an Islamic writing, a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah says "I heard Allah's Apostle say: 'Healing in the black seed (al-ḥabbah al-sawdāʼ) it is for all diseases except death'
The pure white flowers of Orlaya Grandiflora add a delicate airiness to summer. This pretty flower is native to the Mediterranean where it thrives in vineyards and olive groves. This delightful flower appears in spring and last long periods, often until the first frost. They seem to like in hug bouquets and create amazing white flower carpets in the fields. Honey bees, butterflies and pollinating insects live happily surrounded by Orlyana Grandiflora where they find food and home during summertime.
At the edge of roads, paths and walls, we find the Cardus marianus, also known as Silybum marianum or Milk/ Holy Thistle. Also native to the Mediterranean, this plant has rough leaves and honestly, I find it mostly ugly. Instead, their pink purple flowers are magnificent! Traditional medicine attributes to cardus many health benefits as for example in treating lithiasis (stones in kidneys and gallbladder), cirrhosis, hepatitis and it also has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. Nevertheless, it can be toxic if not used in right quantities so better to ask for advice before using it.
One of our most appreciated flower at Rvasi cottage is the Dill, also known in the Mediterranean as Anethum graveolens, in Montenegro and Serbia by the name of 'Mirodjija' Together with mimosas, they made a gentle yellow carpet over the land of our cottage. But the best thing of these flowers is the scent; sweety, slightly anise, sophisticated...their leaves and seeds are used as an herb or spice for flavouring food.
Highly appreciated in Scandinavia, Baltic States, Rusia and many other North European countries as a culinary seasoning & topping for hearings, salmon, soups and pickles, it is indeed in the Mediterranean where, according to classic accounts, it is first discovered and appreciated. Seeds of dill habe been found in the ruins of the Greek city of Samos and in tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. Nevertheless, dill is also an important ingredient in Asian cuisine to make seasonings as curry and traditional dishes.
During summer time, it is delicious as a topping for fermented milk (curds, kefir, yogurt, or buttermilk) Dill oil is also excellent to make body soap and nurture dry skin.
So we are going extremely happy that dill has freely find its place at Rvasi Cottage to live and grow!
What to say about our Clematis!!! Its flowers are pretty and delicate. It grows as a vine, in rocky soil. But the best of all is its fragrance. When the flowers are newly opened, they have a strong sweet almond aroma that fulfills out spring evenings.
Red colour of poppies flowers are stunning. Leaves look so fragile and transparent when facing sunlight. Never cut a Poppy flower as it will die right away.l! Poppies need to grow wild and free to display its most amazing beauty.
Poppy seeds contain both morphine and codeine. Ancient Egyptian doctors were already aware about their benefits and use their seeds as a sedative and pain relieve. Thus, poppies have been used since ancient times as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death; sleep because the opium extracted from them is a sedative; death because of the blood-red colour of their flowers. Greek and Roman accounts report that myths used poppies as offerings to Death and they were also used as emblems on tombstones as an allegory of eternal sleep.
Poppy flower is also symbol to remember those who have given their lifes in battle during I World War. The reason why is that poppies grew on the battlefields after war. This fact is first described in John McCrae's poem, 'In Flanders fields':
In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields [...]
Nowadays, poppy flowers have come to be a symbol of remembering all those who have died in battlefields on behalf of their country.
Red-flowered poppy is also considered the national flower for Albanians due to its red and black colours, that are exactly the same than Albanian flag. In North Macedonia, poppy is in its coat of arms and in the reverse of the Macedonian 500-denar banknote.
At Rvasi Cottage, daisies announce the beginning of spring. First, one daisy pop up, then a second one, and suddenly, you are surrounded by million of little daisies. Daisy, the 'Eye of the Day', also known by the Latin name, 'Bellis', which means 'pretty', and perennis, for 'everlasting', it is considered a symbol of childhood and innocence.
Daisies have astringent properties and can be used in herbal medicine; flower buds and petals can be eaten row in salads and sandwiches, or infused.
Together with daisies, Geranium arrives to our cottage quite early in spring. When we see them, we know that snow will stop falling, rains will slowly get out to be replaced by more sunny days.
Its purple-pink and tender leaves will turn red at the end of spring, early summer here, at Rvasi Cottage. That is why it is also known by the name of 'red robin' . It prefers ditches, walls, hedgerows and woodland to grow freely.
According to Medieval accounts, it was used as a treatment for diarrhea, to improve functioning of the liver and gallbladder but also for healing wounds. The smell is said to repel mosquitoes.
Its name has been explained as a reference to Medieval abbot and herbalist Robert of Molesme. Other theories say the name come from the Latin 'ruber' meaning red; yet another theory suggests that the name stems from the Robin (a diminutive form of Robert) of Robin Goodfellow, the impish sprite from English folklore also known as Puck who was immortalised by William Shakespeare in his play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
Last but not less, the Crocus, 'Queen of the Snows'. This little pink purple flower pop up through the snow, making a fantastic landscape view and fulfilling our hearts while they are hibernating during winter. The first wild flower to bloom, even under heavy snows, it looks so fragile but so strong indeed ....how great would it be if by autumn saffron crocuses would pop up in our land?
Let's stay tuned!