Greetings to each of you from the lush greening of May, 
Hoping that your Floralia weekend was full of flowers and that your May Day was riotous.
As some of you already know from my Wassail email a few months back, we transplanted about 50 rescue apple trees to Four Corners Community Farm this past November. These trees were nine years old at the time of transplant and fully established in their previous home. Moving already-fruiting trees is really not recommended, but these sweet apples were going to be destroyed if they were left at their former home. So we rented a flatbed truck and moved many, many dormant trees (at about 800 lbs each!) to the farm. It was a real labor of love. After some tweaked back muscles and innovative planting techniques, we got all the trees planted before the winter ground froze over completely. 
This Spring, the apple trees erupted with endless pink and white blossoms. Full on flowers. After discussions with fellow orchard tenders, we decided to undergo the task of chopping every single blossom off the trees. Heartbreaking! But necessary. Cutting the blossoms would signal to the trees that it was time to focus their energy on rooting deeply into the soil this growing season, rather than expending their energy on fruit production. Since the apples were recently transplanted and had not yet established themselves in their new home, we wanted to give them a chance to survive next winter by encouraging them to root well.
Image item
the perfect five pointed star blossoms
In the Slavic folktale Vasalisa The Beautiful, Baba Yaga assigns young Vasalisa three futile tasks to accomplish over a period of three days: culling the bad grain from a pile of wheat the size of her hut, sorting thousands of poppy seeds out from a large mound of dirt, and spinning three mountains of flax into fiber. These tasks are daunting and impossible. Vasalisa has no idea how she will accomplish these tasks, she just knows that if she doesn't complete them, Baba Yaga will devour her. 
Standing in the orchard, amongst 50 trees in full bloom, thousands of blossoms all around, I was overwhelmed. As my friend Mel said to me when I sent her a picture of one of the trees, “Truly an impossible Baba Yaga task.” It really was. I didn't know how to get it all done in time. This was a job that was very much out of my hands, despite being so hands-on and tedious. After a two day period of over 90-degree weather that forced all of the fifteen Margil-variety trees into bloom, we could only pray for following weeks of cooler temps to ensure that the rest of the trees would not go at the same time. We needed a cascade of blooms, rather than all of them opening at once. If we didn't chop them off before the blossoms naturally fell, the tree would begin the process of fruit production. I started alone one Wednesday in the stand of Margils. Three hours into blossom chopping and I still hadn't finished one tree. I had to head home for the evening to teach a class. I left the orchard with great concern that the blossoms would begin falling before I was able to get to each one.
Image item
the tiniest tool for an enormous task
In the Vasalisa The Beautiful, Vasalisa has a toy doll that her late Mother made for her. Every night as Vasalisa lays awake dreading tomorrow's impossible tasks, her doll comforts her and whispers, “Go to sleep. The morning is wiser than the evening.” And each morning, Vasalisa wakes up and finds that her ancestral doll has completed the work for her. The doll works in only a way that a doll with this kind of magic could work. 
I don't have a magic doll that chops apple blossoms while I sleep peacefully in my bed, but I do have wonderful friends who are delighted by the opportunity to spend time with the flowers. After my initial night of panic that I wouldn't get the blossoms in time because it took three hours to not even finish one tree and that this would lead to the eventual death of the apple trees, I became wiser in the morning and called my friends to enlist their help. Because of them, we completed the nearly-impossible task over a two week period. Luckily, the weather remained cool and we were able weave through the orchard as a group, following the flowers. Instead of being completely overwhelmed, I was charmed by the collective effort of caring for these trees.  I was reminded that tending to an orchard is a spell for kinship, for the commons, for communal well-being. An orchard is not singular in nature, an orchard is a community of pollinators, of pink flowers that emerge bright pink and fade to creamy white as they unfurl, of reaching roots, of branching patterns, of critters, of flavors of apple, of unruly grasses, of messages on the wind, of piles of mulch, of shared lunch under a tree limb, of finding yarrow tucked underfoot, of seasonal song. Many of the folks who came to chop blossoms were also present for our Wassail event in Winter, they had already offered their blessing and songs to the trees. And now after our efforts, we all had a hearty harvest of perfectly pink flowers to take home for medicine making. The nourishment from this tending continues to ripen.
Image item
some of the blossom harvest on the kitchen table
Normally when blossom thinning happens in an orchard, those who are doing the thinning aren't usually herbalists who feel like they absolutely cannot waste the opportunity to harvest such good medicine. I just can't pass up this kind of harvest, even though letting the blossoms drop to the earth would have saved me a lot of time. But I knew that I would never be given this kind of opportunity again - harvesting 50 trees worth of full blossoms? Nothing could be better! So I've been busy making all kinds of medicine with the apple blossoms and wanted to share some ideas with you, in case you have some apple blossoms in your life this season. Remember that you don't necessarily need apple blossoms to make these recipes. You can use other edible/medicinal flowers of Spring.
First things first: fill up the ol' ice cube tray for flower ice cubes
Make May Wine
Dry for tea – apple blossoms contain a constituent called floratin which is an antibiotic. I use the leaves and flowers in tea blends for colds and flus. Apple is a member of the Rose family, which means that the leaves and flowers are going to be helpful for toning tissue, especially for the reproductive system. 
Sprinkle on top of all soups, salads, foods. They are edible! You will feel like a fairy!
Infuse into butter. Make a cake with the butter. Put the butter on your oatmeal. Put the butter on your toast. Eat the butter however you enjoy your butter.
Infuse into cream. Make ice cream from the infused cream. Add the cream into your earl grey tea in the morning and ~be absolutely delighted!~
Use the apple blossom honey or syrup to make apple blossom cordial
Tuck the dried flowers into a satchel and wear around your neck as a love spell.
Sprinkle the flowers on your bed to dream of Avalon.
Put in your water bottle, drink up the sweetness!
Infuse into apple cider vinegar for a rosey, floral vinegar. Apple on apple! 
Make apple blossom mead.
Make apple blossom wine.
Put in your bath to bathe in the waters of Venus. 

I promised in my previous email that I would share about upcoming classes. But this newsletter is already lengthy, I promise to write about some class announcements next time. For now, let's just enjoy the spring flowering. Now that The Great Blossom Chop of 2023 is complete, my attention is turning towards the nettles that grow in great abundance around my house. We are currently in the middle of Nettle month in Herbal Mystery School; Nettles are one of my favorite plants that initiated me into the herbal realm oh so many years ago. Since we are deep in Nettle month, I wanted to share this interview with fellow Nettle-lover, Kayle Karbowski who is not only a Herbal Mystery School alumnus but also a graduate of Flowering Round! I am ever-inspired by Kayle's art practice and how she weaves the plants into her creative work. They are a tarot reader, astrologer, artist and flower essence practitioner who I have been lucky to get to know over the past few years. And she made a really great hat that I wear all the time that says Meadow Head, which I wear often to my favorite meadow.
From the meadow, with the flowers,
xx Liz 
P.S. If you are are in the Hudson Valley and want to come to an orchard work party day, hit reply to this email and I will add you to the list! 
P.P.S. Please feel free to forward this apple blossom abbondanza list to a friend who also loves apple and is ready to make some medicine with you. If you are that friend, you can subscribe to the newsletter here