Wild detox garden heroes

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Garden designer Leonie Cornelius’s top 5 favourite plants for detoxing, plus her simple recipe for nettle tea

You don’t need to spend money on wellbeing teas and ingredients, as there are plants you can grow in your garden that you can add to your diet to reap some health benefits.

Here, our gardening columnist Leonie Cornelius shares edible flowers and plants to grow in your garden.

1. Monarda -the most beautiful cleansing garden flower

The Monarda is one plant that can be grown in the garden easily and has many medicinal benefits. I am sowing the Monarda ‘Croftway Pink’ this year and can’t wait to use it in food and cures. All parts of this plant are edible and can be used like mint, oregano or thyme to flavour food. The flowers look absolutely beautiful in salads and are a very unusual addition to the garden border. Also known as ‘Bee balm’ it’s no surprise that insects also happen to love these plants. The plant is considered antiseptic, carminative, diuretic, diaphoretic and stimulating. It has been used to lower fevers, hold colds at bay, treat gastric disorders and to soothe sore throats. It can also be used for skin problems and skin infections and is often used as a part of an air cleansing pot pourri.

2. Echinacea purpurea- the North American prairie immune system booster

The Echinacea purpurea is a striking plant with deep coral spiky-textured centres, which are show-stoppingly lovely when examined up close. With this spiky centre it is no surprise that one of its common names is ‘Hedgehog’. The late summer and early Autumn blooming flower is one well known to many for its medicinal properties. A course of Echinacea drops or tablets is widely available to buy and is said to strengthen the immune system and thus prevent colds. The plant is native to North America and traditionally the North American Plains natives would use the root of this plant to treat everything from snake bites to toothaches.

3. The Nettle (Urtica dioica): The cleansing hero

While the stinging nettle may be unwelcome in many areas of the garden, the plant can actually assist the body in clearing waste and supports the function of the kidneys making it a wonderful plant for detoxing. They can be steamed or made into a delicious soup or even chopped into salad so long as you blanch them first. I suggest leaving an area in a corner of the garden for harvesting as they are also super for wildlife. 

4. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)- The one that never runs out 

The entire plant of the dandelion is beneficial to our bodies and is a great beginners plant for adding to your detox diet- especially as the plant grows profusely everywhere-even where it’s not wanted! They have strong antioxidant properties and the bright yellow of the flower hints at the contained flavonoids. The flowers can make a sweet smelling tea and the leaves can be added to salad and stimulate the lover and gallbladder which aids digestion.

5. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)- the blood cleanser

Traditionally this beautiful plant which is one of my favourotes in the wild perennial garden  was considered a vulnery, meaning it was used to heal wounds of all kinds but it also has many other benefits such as strong detoxing properties. I love using yarrows in many meadow scheme garden designs but the plant has so much more to offer than being pretty- the leaves and flowers of the yarrow help clear waste from the bloodstream and the bitter taste aids digestion making it a perfect plant for your detox this spring.

Quick fix nettle tea

One of the quickest detox drinks to prepare from the wild is a simple nettle tea. I like to pick about a cupful of nettle leaves (wearing gloves!) and simply put them in a teapot. Then you add hot water and allow it to steep for 10 minutes or so. If the pure nettle taste is too strong for you then you can add a bit of honey which softens the taste and makes it more palateable. Raspberry leaves are also a good combination and mint works beautifully with nettle too. My favourite in summer is iced nettle and mint tea with fresh lemon. Better than lemonade and super detoxing!