With Erica Neustadt of Change4 Chal­font

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GREEN SPACES -

HAVE mixed feel­ings about sting­ing net­tles, grow­ing co­pi­ously at this time of the year. On the one hand they clearly want to take over the world if my back gar­den is any­thing to go by, and on the other they pro­vide an ex­cel­lent nat­u­ral habi­tat, hav­ing taken many mea­sures over re­cent years to make my gar­den a wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ment for wildlife it seems churl­ish to cut it down.

The sting­ing net­tle, or Ur­tica dioica, be­ing barbed, some­what too pushy and usu­ally un­wel­come, is typ­i­cally un­der-rated in the West, although our an­ces­tors cer­tainly recog­nised the net­tle’s use­ful­ness – along with hemp, its stalks have been pro­cessed to make fab­ric and cord for such things as bows, fish­ing nets, sails and cloth­ing. It was used in this way from the Bronze Age up to about 100 years’ ago.

In fact, dur­ing the First World War, the Ger­man Em­pire used net­tles as a sub­sti­tute for cot­ton, us­ing net­tle fi­bre to make sol­diers’ uni­forms.

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