Borage

The star flower has been brightening the garden for a couple of months, its five-pointed blossoms, at first pink then changing to bright blue, attracting bees and butterflies. Self-sown plants have sprung up everywhere, the bristly stems making it difficult to pull them up, not that I want to. I just edge carefully past trying to avoid the sand papery leaves.

Borage is known as bee bread and is believed to have originated in Syria. The young leaves are good in salad and taste a bit like cucumber. The larger leaves can be cooked like spinach. The flowers brighten up a summer salad or a jug of Pimms and I’ve even put them in ice cubes.

Borage is associated with courage and cheerfulness. Recent research has shown it stimulates the adrenal glands. The leaves and flowers are rich in potassium, calcium and salts and make a refreshing tonic. A fresh leaf can lower the temperature of the mouth and the pulped leaves make a soothing poultice for bruises.

The plant was first introduced by the Romans and is first recorded as growing in this country in the Thirteenth Century.

I once wrote this poem inspired by borage –

The garden was full of borage
when we came back from Cornwall.
A self-seeded sea – waist deep.
Blue stars edged with mauve
falling upside-down at my feet.
Leaves coarse as sand,
snagging skin, dredging up the day
my daughter went missing.

The opacity of waves
the vastness of blue,
the smallness of hope –
visiting like a bee.
Salt-sour taste
of fear.

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