Early bloomers, the brave pioneers in the herb garden

Healthy and decorative items from the natural pharmacy: We were allowed to accompany herbalist Rosi Rainer from Maria Alm on a walk through her her herb garden. And we looked over her shoulder while collecting the delicate early blooming plants for ointments, teas and salads.

When it is slowly getting warmer outside, when the sun is gaining more and more power, they gradually stretch their heads out of the earth: the early bloomers. One of the most courageous - because among the very first - is the nettle. "The stinging nettle is the blood purifier par excellence," explains Rosi Rainer. We stroll through the lovingly laid out garden of the herbalist from Maria Alm and are amazed at the many small blossoms and delicate leaves that grow in and around the herb garden. Rosi is a certified herbal pedagogue, she completed her training at the LFI Salzburg in 2009. She has been working with the garden in general and with herbs in particular for much longer. "I grew up on a farm here in Maria Alm, I have always enjoyed working in the garden, I have always been interested in it", says Rosi.

From overgrown farm garden to herb paradise

In 2002, she took over the farm from her uncle - and with him her interest in wild herbs. "At that time, there was an old farm garden here, which my grandmother had planted," Rosi remembers. "The garden was overgrown, so I took care of it all. I took over most of the plants from my grandma and gradually added my own. So the garden grew bigger and bigger. And also the interest in the herbs. The training as a herbalist in 2009 was only the logical consequence. Since then Rosi has been passing on her knowledge about herbs in workshops and seminars. From May to October both locals and guests can learn a lot - from the use of wild herbs to natural cosmetics. Rosi also sells various fine herbal specialties in her small herb store, right next to the garden. Almcola syrup is available here, for example. "The children especially like that," smiles Rosi.

The nettle, a jack-of-all-trades among the herbs

But back to the nettle. This versatile medicinal herb is Rosis' favorite among herbs. And it is one of the oldest medicinal herbs of mankind. "The more I deal with it, the higher the nettle rises in my favor," says Rosi.
"Especially because it is so incredibly versatile. You can make syrup from it or a casserole, you can dry it and use it as tea. I have also made nettle salt several times, with nettles and dead nettles. In August I harvest the nettle seeds, they are very rich in minerals. You can use them to make a tincture, for example - it strengthens the immune system. By the way: Don't be afraid of the notorious "burning" of the stinging nettle. The first thing to do is to always attack the nettle firmly, never just brush it lightly over the leaves. The so-called "stinging hairs" can also be broken by working them with a rolling pin.

Scharbockskraut: der Vitamin C-Lieferant
We stroll on to the next early bloomer, which welcomes us with bright yellow flowers. The lesser celandine has arranged itself like a delicate carpet of blossoms near the house wall. "Here it is protected, and in spring it blooms particularly quickly," explains Rosi. Lesser celandine or figwort is one of the buttercup plants. "Lesser celandine is actually derived from "scurvy"," Rosi explains. "Against these deficiency symptom, the leaves of the lesser celandine were also mainly used in the past". Before flowering, the leaves are bursting with vitamin C and are especially good in salads or spreads. "You can also dry the leaves and add them to the herbal salt," says Rosi. When the lesser celandine flowers, as it did during our visit, the leaves should not be eaten - they then contain toxic substances. So always harvest before the flowering time.

Gundelrebe and daisies: more than just decoration

The Gundelrebe comes from the family of the labiates. Its pale violet flowers are especially beautiful between green salad leaves. In folk medicine, the medicinal plant was used to stimulate the metabolism, for example in a spring cure. The ground ivy is also said to be beneficial for bronchial and urinary tract diseases. Just as pretty to look at but even more famous is the daisy. "The daisy is also called the children's arnica because it has a similar, wound-healing effect. But it is much finer," explains Rosi. In addition to the daisy ointment, you can sprinkle the pretty flowers in your salad or brew a tea from the leaves to stimulate your appetite and metabolism.

Ribwort Plantain and Giersch: Inconspicuous, but not insignificant

"Ribwort plantain is found all year round, it grows in meadows and along roadsides", says Rosi. "It is a secret remedy for insect bites because it reduces itching and takes away swelling." In addition, ribwort plantain is particularly good as a seasoning in potato soup because its buds taste like mushrooms - we've tried it! Also very common is the ground elder, which is also called ground hoarder because it spreads very strongly on the ground. In former times, the Giersch was estimated as means against rheumatism and gout, today, it usually finds use as tasty game-vegetables. "The Giersch is together with the nettle one of the oldest, well-known game herbs", explains Rosi us. "It has a draining effect and actually fits everywhere where parsley is also used.

In Rosi Rainer's garden there are many other wild and medicinal herbs, such as lady's mantle, comfrey, creeping bugle, wild garlic or sage. Many are still waiting for warmer weather, until they stretch their heads and buds completely out of the ground. When the time comes, we will pay Rosi Rainer another visit in her beautiful herb garden.