Throwback Thursday: Honeysuckle

Throwback Thursday: Honeysuckle

Every time I step outside these days I’m taken aback by the heady smell of the honeysuckle wafting from the woods adjacent our property.

I love the woods by our house for many reasons. 1. They provide a nice barrier from the commercial businesses on the other side.  2. They make a wind break from the strong wind that blows over the lake. 3. They provide shelter for wildlife. 4. They make a sound barrier for the traffic from the highway. 5. They are chock full of the most delicious smelling honeysuckle.

It’s the last bit I’m talking about today.

Japanese Honeysuckle growing in the woods by the house.

Honeysuckle is a shrub Honeysuckle is also a vine. We are lucky enough to have three different kinds of Honeysuckle by the house. I love that at different parts of the day, the smell is different. I can’t help but wonder if the scents are sending different signals. This is not scientific, just the musings of a sensitive nose. ; )

In the morning there is a light, fruity almost citrus smell. About noon, there is a stronger, more wild honey sweet smell. Then, around six, there is the strongest smell of all. This is the intoxicating, permeating, vanilla bourbon yumminess.

Every year I would ooh and ahh over the Carolina

Baby's Cheek Honeysuckle also by the house.

Jessamine at the local greenhouses. The Parsnip forbade them because of my bee allergy, something about, “who’s going to raise these kids if you get stung and don’t get to your epi-pen?” I totally translated that to, “I love you, and I don’t want you to die.” Isn’t he sweet? (He really is, but he’s a scoffer)

So, this year. Ha! It was already here! Short of traipsing into the bosky depths, hacking down hundreds of vines and shrubs, he’ll not be getting rid of the honeysuckle.

He’s mellowed on the whole bee thing anyway. I don’t know if it’s because he has conceded that I’m going to be outside around a gazillion plants and he just needs to let go, or if he has realized that two of them are grown now and he could probably manage the last two. I’m going to choose to think the first thing.

Pink Lemonade Honeysuckle. Perfect in lemonade!

Back to honeysuckle. You know that it smells wonderful, but did you know that it tastes wonderful as well? It makes delightful tea that actually has some healthful benefits. Again, I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, but I do know that native peoples have used honeysuckle as an expectorant and to treat respiratory conditions long before Mucinex came on the scene.

My middle son, Jonathan, has asthma. From the age of 2 until about 5, his episodes with it were pretty severe. In conjunction with his prescription medication, with approval from his asthma doctor, I began brewing Sweet Aztec and Honeysuckle tea for him. He would have it iced during the day, and hot before bed. By the time he was 7 he only used his inhaler once or twice a week. At 9, had only sporadic flares and now, at the age of 14, he has been symptom free for three years.

Honeysuckle Tea cured my son...not!

I don’t think honeysuckle tea cured my son of asthma. I am not saying that at all. I do think that it helped us both to have a proactive, hands on way to deal with an invisible, relentless condition that could render him breathless, gasping for oxygen. It was a way of coping, “Slow down, relax, let the air in, push the air out, sip your tea.” He still has his tea almost every night, although he’s changed it to Vanilla Pear. He also still uses it as a relaxation method. Honeysuckle tea did do that.

Some things you might want to know before planting Honeysuckle. It is hardy. When adding it to your landscape, commit to where you are putting it, because once established, you’re going to have it.

Bees are very attracted to it. It beckons to them just as it does to us. It’s heady aroma is not there for looks. = ) As gardeners, we all know that we need the bees to visit, and visit often. But you want to put your honeysuckle somewhere it’s appropriate to have a gazillion bees buzzing all day. Perhaps it’s not a great idea to have them two feet from where you park the car?

The scent travels a good distance. The woods are about 200 yards from our front door, but the smell is so strong, it’s the first thing you smell when you walk out of the door. So perhaps along a back fence is a good idea, or a neglected corner of the yard. You’ll reap the benefits, without the buzzing bother.

Honeysuckle blooms from mid spring until the heat of the summer slows it’s flower production, then picks up again in the fall until first frost. I have already started harvesting flowers. I dry most of them for use in beverages but I also use them fresh in salads and as decoration on baked goods.

I even make a Honeysuckle Italian sausage ravioli that is scrumptious. However, this is a “special” dish I have to really be in the mood for, as ravioli is a little time consuming for everyday fare.

It’s common for me to have Honeysuckle Lemonade or Tea on hand. I may even have some honeysuckle scones. It depends on how my morning has gone.

It’s hard to believe that anyone would call this a weed. I guess it proves one man’s weed is another man’s tea rose…er…tea supplement…um tea bag? You get it.

I hope you have a Paisley Honeysuckle day!~KeriAnne


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