Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saponaria officinalis or soapwort

Autumn has arrived, each night it rains, and the garden becomes more bedraggled, the cosmos hangs on in there, the geraniums and pansies still producing flowers. Yesterday my love asked how do you make soap, and looking through my John Seymour, Self -Sufficiency book Seymour has the recipe, well we do not really need it nowadays, the process is too complicated and it is much cheaper to buy at your local supermarket. 
But it did bring back the memory of the soapwort I grew in a narrow bed under the house, its root system means that it happily expands itself and needs keeping in check, but its pretty rather untidy habit did attract humming-bird hawkmoths so it was a welcome addition to the garden.
It is not called soapwort for nothing Grigson says and I quote
"Crush a handful or two of leaves and bring them to the boil in water.  Strain off the liquid and it will make an appreciable lather" he goes on to say that it will give you a dry, comfortless, slightly stinging wash.
He goes on to contemplate whether this plant was used by the early medieval fullers as one time it was called Foam Dock, it was used to wash the sheep in Switzerland and also for linen, and taken to New England where it kept the old West Country name of Bouncing Bett......

The dunes at Holme Next to the Sea

A berberis shrub used along the wooden pathway to keep visitors and dogs off  the sand dunes presumably

Harebells amongst the marram grass

The eroded beach and dunes


  1. What gorgeous pictures of the dunes and beach Thelma. As for the soapwort, I wonder where I could get some from. I look in the hedgerows often but have never seen it. Do you think it would be okay in deep shade?

    Off to your next post now....I'm a bit behind!


    Is the place I used to get herbs from, funnily enough have passed the place at Kelvedon now I live down here. Used to love their catalogue!