For those who are willing to forage, summer fields and meadows abound with herbs and natural material for designing arrangements. Throughout August and October an abundance of plants, seedpods, and roots are ready for harvest. Now is the perfect time to dry wildcrafted herbs and botanicals for a winter supply. These pictures showcase some of my foraging finds on a recent excursion. I collected rich-brown stalks of Curly Dock, dried plumes of White Yarrow, and fresh Goldenrod flowers to use for crafting and medicinal purposes.
Gardening books provide minimal advice when it comes to harvesting specific plants at certain stages. I've learned most of my knowledge by experimentation and suggest that others to do the same. For example: Timing and weather have everything to do with preserving plants successfully. It is best to gather botanicals on sunny afternoons when the morning dew has lifted...if flowers are harvested with the slightest amount of moisture they are more prone to molding. Below are some additional tips for harvesting Yarrow, Dock, and Goldenrod which are currently available to gather this season.
WHEN TO GATHER
GOLDENROD - Goldenrod must be picked just before it fully blooms. It will continue to mature after it is clipped. If it is gathered too late in the season, Goldenrod will turn downy and plume. Flowers normally bloom from late July through early September in most regions.
WHITE YARROW - White Yarrow is ready for picking when its large white umbels begin to swell and dry. If you dry this flower too early it will shrivel up. Hang stems upside down to retain their rich white color.
BROWN YARROW - Yarrow that has turned brown and gone to seed can be picked throughout winter. Stand brittle stems upright in crates or cardboard boxes to dry in an attic or arid location.
CURLY DOCK - Curly Dock can be harvested throughout the year, beginning in spring when it is green, into summer as it turns pink, and then into autumn as the pods mature to dark brown. The seeds will drop from their stems and become very fragile if pods are collected in late winter.
Best of luck with identifying and harvesting your herbs this season.