All posts by amywitt

Nature Mentoring Program

daisy 5 - Nature Mentoring Program

Spring is Just Days Away!!

Would you like an experienced coach to guide you in developing a relationship with your yard??


Do you know how to receive messages from your plants?

Do you want to learn how to garden using your intuition?

Maybe you want to walk in the woods to learn about native wildflowers or go to a nursery to pick appropriate plants for your yard.

Whatever you want to do, learn, or need so you can engage with Nature and her magic, Earth Walker’s Nature Mentoring Program is for you!

In this 6 week program, Earth Walkers will work with you to meet your Nature connection desires.

In the greater Portland, Maine area?

Let’s meet in your yard, at a local trail, park or other location each week for 90 minutes to do what you want to do so you can reconnect with Nature and enjoy her gifts.

This unique investment for YOU is only $750

Learn more about this awesome opportunity by SCHEDULING a discovery call today!

** This program is only available in the greater Portland, Maine area.

daisy 2 - Nature Mentoring Program

Let Forsythia’s Flowers Brighten Your Winter

forsythia - Let Forsythia's Flowers Brighten Your Winter

Forsythia’s (Forsythia x intermedia), also known as Golden Bells, flower clusters bring a sense of sunshine and joy during a long winter.

Forsythia’s magic includes balance, courage, growth, happiness, and healing.

Did you know that Forsythia is a powerful healing plant?

In Chinese medicine, Forsythia is used for treating a variety of illnesses including skin problems, flu, stroke, and breast cancer.

An easy way to enjoy the blooms and colors of spring, and bring happiness and harmony to your home during these cold winter months is to force Forsythia’s flowering branches.

forsythia branch - Let Forsythia's Flowers Brighten Your Winter

Here’s what you do:

  • Take cuttings on a mild afternoon when the temperature is above freezing and the stems are soft + flexible.
  • Make a clean cut that is diagonal and flush with a major branch.
  • Cut young branches that are at least 12 inches long and have a large number of flower buds (fat and round).
  • Bring the branches indoors and recut the ends of the stems at an angle before placing them in water.
  • Submerge the branches in water, allowing the stems and buds to quickly absorb water and break dormancy.
  • Remove the branches from the water, and cut a slit in the bottom of each stem before placing them upright in a vase with warm water.
  • Place the container with the branches in a cool location with bright indirect sunlight.
  • Blooms will appear in 1-3 weeks.

Tip: You can also force other flowering shrubs and trees like Crabapples, and Cherries.

apple blossoms2 - Let Forsythia's Flowers Brighten Your Winter
Apple Blossoms (Malus)

Including Forsythia in your meditation space will also aid in deepening your spiritual connection with nature.

Enjoy filling these last weeks of winter with sunshine and joy.

forsythia 2 - Let Forsythia's Flowers Brighten Your Winter

river birch 2 604x270 - 5 Simple Ways to ID Trees by Their Bark

5 Simple Ways to ID Trees by Their Bark

river birch 2 - 5 Simple Ways to ID Trees by Their Bark
River Birch (Betula nigra)

Today I’m looking forward to leading a winter tree ID walk.

One of the easiest ways to identify trees is by their leaves.

However, in the winter, most trees have dropped their leaves (at least in the northeast where I live).

What to do?

How about looking at the tree’s bark?

When you look closely at tree bark, you’ll see variations in appearance including colors and textures.

nuthatch - 5 Simple Ways to ID Trees by Their Bark
White-breasted Nuthatch on Spruce (Picea)

Here are 5 simple ways to identify trees by their bark.

Smooth, Unbroken Bark – although most young tress have smooth bark, this often changes as trees age. However, some species like American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) and Red Maple (Acer rubrum) have smooth bark throughout their lifespans.

Peeling Bark – this is common to Sycamore (Platanus), Birch (Betula) and some Maple (Acer) trees.

Deep Ridges and Furrows – if a tree has very rough bark, take a look at its ridges and furrows. White Ash (Fraxinus americana), has ridges and furrows that intersect and look like a basket weave. Others, like Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra), have uninterrupted ridges.

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Gray Squirrel on
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

Color – you can also look at the color of a tree. Beech (Fagus) trees have a light gray bark, Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) has dark red-brown bark, and Red Oak (Quercus rubra) bark is dark reddish gray brown.

Smell Test – scratch a tree’s twig to see if it has an odor. Some Pine (Pinus) trees smell like turpentine, Birch (Betula) smells like wintergreen, and Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) smells like cinnamon and spice.

With your new skills, see if you can identify two trees this week by their bark.

red oak - 5 Simple Ways to ID Trees by Their Bark
Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

Celtic Month of Hazel

This is the sixth post in the Celtic Tree Calendar series.  The modern Celtic Tree Calendar is based on the idea that each of the letters in the ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet corresponds to a tree. The calendar consists of 13 lunar divisions with a different tree representing each 28 day period.

hazelnut - Celtic Month of Hazel

Happy Coll!

I am celebrating Lughnasadh (August 1) and the Celtic month of Hazel (August 5 – September 1).

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Lughnasadh celebrates the beginning of the harvest and marks the end of summer.  It is the last of the four key festivals in the ancient Celtic calendar.  

The Celtic festival year begins in October with Samhain, which focuses on preparing for winter and the end of the harvest. 

In February, the festival of Imbolc commemorates the end of winter. 

The most important festival, Beltane, is about the arrival of summer and is celebrated in May. 

During each festival season, various moon months are also acknowledged and celebrated.  During the time of Lughnasadh, we welcome the month of Hazel.  Hazel (Corylus) or Coll is the 9th month of the Celtic year and represents the letter C in the Ogham alphabet.

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Hazelnuts or Filberts are found throughout Maine.  Two of our native species are Corylus cornuta (Beaked Hazelnut) and Corylus americana (American Hazelnut).  Both plants are multi-stemmed shrubs.  Cornuta reaches heights of 4-8’, and americana can grow between 9-12’ tall.   

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Corylus blooms in mid spring.  The male flowers are catkins and the female flowers are tiny clusters of fine magenta hairs.  Hazels are a valuable plant for wildlife, including serving as a host plant for the Luna moth caterpillar.     

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The edible nuts ripen in late summer and are consumed by a variety of animals and birds including woodpeckers, squirrels, chipmunks and foxes.

The nuts have many benefits — they are rich in protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and are used to make Frangelico liqueur.   

They are also a symbol of good luck.  In fact, if you find two hazelnuts in the same shell, you can eat one and throw the other over your left shoulder to make a recent wish come true.

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In the fall, Hazels show off with beautiful foliage displays in orange, rose, purple, and yellow.

A member of the Birch family, Hazel is sacred in a number of cultures.  In fact, it was so sacred to Irish cultures that cutting one down was punishable by death. 

salmon - Celtic Month of Hazel

In the Celtic tradition, Hazel is associated with sacred wells, springs, and salmon.  They are considered powerful symbols and receptacles of wisdom. 

One legend tells the story of the Salmon of Knowledge, a fish who could live despite being eaten.  This salmon was a regular mortal salmon until he ate 9 hazelnuts from trees that grew around the Well of Wisdom where he lived.  After eating the nuts, the salmon held all the wisdom of the world and became the most prized catch of all the animals, gifted with shape-shifting powers and infinite insight.

As a tree of knowledge and carrier of wisdom, hazel teaches us that all we need is already within us.  She symbolizes play and enchantment, and radiates energy for stimulating artistic and poetic skills.

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Hazel is also very sensitive to the electric magnetic fields of the earth.  The wood is flexible and is immediately responsive to subtle energy vibrations and environmental changes.  Because of these traits, Hazel is the traditional choice for “Y” rods used to dowse for water and buried treasure.

Hazel’s medicinal properties include improving blood sugar levels, regulating blood pressure, and reducing inflammation.  She also has a biochemical called Paclitaxel, which is used in treating cancer.

Next time you are walking or hiking in the woods, carry some hazelnuts in your pockets so she can connect you to the wisdom of the Nature spirits.

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Celtic Month of Oak

This is the fifth post in the Celtic Tree Calendar series.  The modern Celtic Tree Calendar is based on the idea that each of the letters in the ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet corresponds to a tree. The calendar consists of 13 lunar divisions with a different tree representing each 28 day period.

green man - Celtic Month of Oak

How Are You Celebrating Duir?

Duir Oak - Celtic Month of Oak

Duir, Dair or Oak (Quercus), represents the letter D in the Ogham alphabet and is the 7th month of the Celtic year.   It is celebrated from June 11 – July 7.  
Of the 600 species of Oak worldwide, 90 of them make a home in the United States.  Oak is so beloved in the US that it was officially designated as the national tree in 2004.  You can find several species of Oak throughout Maine, but our native Red Oak (Quercus rubra), is the most common. 

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Quercus rubra

Oaks can reach heights of over 100’ and can live 1000 years or more.   They are slow growing, have massive crowns, dense, heavy trunks, and extensive root systems which include deep taproots. 

All Oaks produce acorns, which are a symbol of manifestation, achievement, and abundance.  It is said if you carry an acorn in your pocket it will bring you good luck.

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It takes 20-40 years for an Oak tree to produce acorns and 60 years to yield a full crop.  Some years are boom years and the trees will bear great quantities of nuts.  Other years they produce very little.  This is part of Nature’s regular cycle, rather than a sign of a stressed or declining tree.
As a keystone species, Oaks establish the overall shape of the forest.  They are a dominant and unique force and support more life forms than any other tree including over 300 species of lichen and fungi, insects, mammals, and birds.   They provide food, cover, shelter, nesting sites, medicine, and protection to all who need assistance.

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Oak’s antiviral, anticancer, astringent, and antiseptic medicinal properties have long been used to treat a variety of ailments from rashes to cancer prevention. Known as the elder god, king of trees, and king of the plant kingdom, Oaks are associated with the leaders of the gods – Zeus, Thor, and Jupiter, as well as the triple goddess Brigid.

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One of three sacred trees to the Druids, Oaks are one of the oldest (they were here before humans) and longest lived trees in the forest.  They have been revered for their strength and endurance for thousands of years, and are associated with knowledge, wisdom, power, protection, success, wealth, and good fortune. 

Perhaps the most famous Oak is the Major Oak (Quercus robur) in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England.  According to local folklore, Robin Hood and his merry men regularly gathered and slept underneath it’s canopy.

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Quercus robur

Oak reminds us of our divine connection to Nature and he asks us to listen to the sound of the wind so we can hear the voice of the divine within and around us. 
Next time you see an Oak, acknowledge him with gratitude and thank him for being authentic and true to himself, for nurturing others, and for being of valuable service to the community.

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Celtic Month of Hawthorn

This is the fourth post in the Celtic Tree Calendar series.  The modern Celtic Tree Calendar is based on the idea that each of the letters in the ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet corresponds to a tree. The calendar consists of 13 lunar divisions with a different tree representing each 28 day period.

hawthorn - Celtic Month of Hawthorn

Happy Huath!

From May 13 through June 10, we celebrate the Celtic month of Hawthorn, Thorn Apple or Huath, which is the 6th month of the Celtic year and represents the letter H in the Ogham alphabet.

Hawthorns (Crataegus), which are native in Maine, are the 2nd largest species of any genus of plants in New England. They are common hedge plants and can grow to be 25-35’ tall. 

A member of the Rose family, the thorns on a Hawthorn can be 1 ½ – 3″ long (not to worry, a thornless variety is available for home landscapes). 

hawthorn fruits - Celtic Month of Hawthorn

Hawthorn’s fragrant white flowers appear in late spring. Later in the  summer, her red edible fruits, called “haws” (which means  hedge) ripen. They are high in antioxidants and used in  teas, jelly, wine, and liqueurs. 

In the fall she makes a grand exit with a beautiful display of foliage ranging in colors from purple to scarlet to orange.

Sacred for centuries to many indigenous peoples all over the world, Hawthorn is one of the most magical trees in western traditions. She’s strongly associated with love, healing, fairies, the festival of Beltane, the Celtic goddess Brigid, fertility, protection, relaxation, and happiness.

brigid - Celtic Month of Hawthorn

Hawthorn has powerful fairy magic and is also considered an elf tree. It is said that cutting one will bring misfortune from the elves that lived within it, especially if blooming. In 1999 work was interrupted on a main road from Limerick to Galway in Ireland because a Hawthorn stood in its path. The road was re-routed, and construction was delayed for 10 years.

Hawthorns are highly protective and bring us into the present moment. Her thorns signify her power and protection. She offers anyone in need a protective space where they can heal from a wounded heart or spirit.

Hawthorn’s bark, fruit and flowers have strong, gentle medicine. Her most significant benefit is her ability to treat heart conditions, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. 

glass heart - Celtic Month of Hawthorn

She is a very powerful healer of the heart – both physically and spiritually and provides kind but tough love.

Hawthorn is also used to help strengthen the appetite, as a digestive aid, for insomnia, and poor circulation. 

Hawthorns are also a very valuable tree for wildlife. They provide food, shelter, and nesting sites for songbirds, native bees, honey bees, butterflies and other insects and small animals. 

This month, let Hawthorn lift your spirits and fill your heart with her magic.

hawthorn flowers - Celtic Month of Hawthorn

Celtic Month of Willow

This is the third post in the Celtic Tree Calendar series.  The modern Celtic Tree Calendar is based on the idea that each of the letters in the ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet corresponds to a tree. The calendar consists of 13 lunar divisions with a different tree representing each 28 day period.

willow - Celtic Month of Willow
Weeping Willow

Happy Saille!

On April 15th we welcome the Celtic month of Willow (Salix) or Saille (the 5th letter of the Ogham alphabet). 

Much more exciting than Tax Day, don’t you agree?

The genus name, Salix, means to be near water and all 400+ trees and shrubs in this genus are water babies.

Willows love to be near water.  In fact, their roots will seek out underground water carrying pipes if there are no natural water sources around.  

With their exceptional ability to find water, Willows make excellent dowsing rods.  

Isn’t is fitting that Willow is the tree for April, the month known for its rain showers?

Willow’s relationship to water also means she has a strong connection to the moon and the feminine energies of birth, creation, and intuition.

mourning cloak 2 - Celtic Month of Willow

Willow is a wonderful friend to the pollinators.  Her  flowers, called catkins, are a valuable source of
nectar for early pollinators and she serves as a gracious hostess for the larvae of the Mourning Cloak butterfly, which overwinters in Maine as an adult. 

If you’re wondering where the name Pussy Willow comes from, this is the name given to the smaller species of Willows whose young spring catkins are furry and soft. 

pussy willow 4 scaled - Celtic Month of Willow  

Associated with growth and healing, Willows have been a source of medicine for over 3000 years. Their bark and leaves contain salicin which has anti-inflammatory properties. In the 1800s, salicin was used to develop aspirin.

Besides healing, Willow’s properties include energy clearing, and protection.

It is said that a Willow planted near your home will help ward away danger, particularly the type that stems from natural disasters like strong storms and flooding.

They are often planted near cemeteries, perhaps as a way to keep the evil spirits out. 😊

One way you can clear your home of unwanted energies and creatures is to sweep it with a bundle of willow branches and leaves.

Do you have some wet or problem areas in your landscape? Want to incorporate live art? Think about Willow. She’s great at controlling erosion, serving as a living fence, or being created into a sculpture or basket.

Everyone needs flexible and versatile friends like Willow.

black pussy willow 2 - Celtic Month of Willow

Celtic Month of Alder

This is the second in the Celtic Tree Calendar series.  The modern Celtic Tree Calendar is based on the idea that each of the letters in the ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet corresponds to a tree. The calendar consists of 13 lunar divisions with a different tree representing each 28 day period.

alder1 - Celtic Month of Alder
Alder Cones & Catkins

Wishing You a Happy Faern!

Welcome to the Celtic month of Alder (Alnus).  Known as Faern by the Celts (the letter F in the Ogham alphabet), it begins on March 18 and ends on April 14.

There are 35 species of Alder.  In Maine, Speckled Alder (Alnus incana) is the native species.  It is speckled with prominent white pores, called lenticels, along its branches.  The flower is a purplish-red catkin, and the fruit is a woody brown cone, which persists through the winter.

alder 2 - Celtic Month of Alder
Alder Cones & Flowers

A member of the Birch family, Alder is known as a pioneer species.  This fast growing small tree or large shrub (10-25’ tall) is one of the first plants on the scene.  With its ability to provide additional nitrogen to successional species, it helps to establish a woodland area.

Alders love cool, wet sites, and grow by streams, ponds, and rivers.  Their roots do not rot, in fact they turn hard as stone when exposed to water, making them wonderful plants for erosion control.  This extraordinarily strong wood is also used for bridge footings.

 A valuable wildlife plant, Alder serves as a host plant for several butterflies including the White Admiral.   Alder also provides food, and cover to a variety of animals and birds including beavers, songbirds, and the American Woodcock.

american white admiral - Celtic Month of Alder
American White Admiral Butterfly

Alder bark is rich in tannin and has been used for mouthwash, as well as a skin tonic to soothe irritation and inflammation.   Historically, Indigenous Americans mixed the root bark with molasses and used it for toothaches.

Alder is known as the “Alder King” or “Elf King” and is the protector (especially of the waters) and warrior of hidden realms.  Alder’s strength helps us face the things we are avoiding.

Aligned with the element of air, Alder is associated with new beginnings, healing, breath, inner confidence, and determination.  

Several dyes are produced from Alder – brown from the twigs, red from the bark, and green from the flowers.  To blend in with the forest, it is said that Robinhood and his Merry Men dyed their clothes green using Alder flowers.

How will you to incorporate Alder into your life this month?

Celtic Month of Ash

Beginning this month, I will be introducing you to the trees of the Celtic Tree Calendar.  The modern Celtic Tree Calendar is based on the idea that each of the letters in the ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet corresponds to a tree. The calendar consists of 13 lunar divisions with a
different tree representing each 28 day period.

ash - Celtic Month of Ash

We are currently in the month of Ash (Fraxinus), the third month of the Celtic Tree Calendar.  The month began on February 16 and will end on March 17.

Also known as Nion or Nuin, Ash is the 5th letter of the alphabet and one of three trees
sacred to the Druids (Oak and Hawthorn are the other two). 

Ash corresponds to the element of fire.  The genus name, Fraxinus, means firelight and we all know ash is left after a fire has burned out. She also carries power from the sun and rules over water.

Poseidon - Celtic Month of Ash

Ash was sacred to Poseidon.  In ancient times, pieces of wood were carried on ships as good luck charms (to protect people from drowning, accidents, and snakes).  This practice was also carried out by the Irish immigrants crossing the Atlantic to America.  

Ash trees represent strength, health, protection, and courage.  They are associated with life force energy, creative expression, and the power of the spoken word. 

ash Credit Biodome de Montreal - Celtic Month of Ash
© Biodôme de Montréal

For me Ash symbolizes grace, strength, endurance, and welcoming community.

We have two Ash trees.  Each day I am warmly greeted by them.  The tree in our backyard has been a welcoming host to the variety of birds, insects, squirrels, and
chipmunks who seek her out for protection, nesting, and the food she provides, including from the feeders she lets us hangs.  Both trees stand gracefully, unconditionally sharing their strength and wisdom. 

Maine has three native Ash trees – White (Fraxinus americana), Green or Red
(Fraxinus pensylvanica), and Black or Brown (Fraxinus nigra). 

White Ash typically grow in well-drained soils on slopes.  Its bark produces a yellow dye and it’s hard, strong, heavy wood is used to make tool handles, baseball bats, hockey sticks, musical instruments, and furniture.  A valuable timber wood, it’s said that tools made from White Ash are more productive than tools made from other wood.

Both the bark and leaves can be used soothe the itching caused by bee stings, black fly, and mosquito bites.  A bitter tasting syrup can also be made from the sap – pancakes

Unlike White Ash, Green Ash grows along streambanks, floodplains, and wet upland sites.  It’s quite resistant to the wind and creates a natural windbreak. 

A red dye can be extracted from the bark and the wood is suitable for making baskets.  The wood is also used for tool handles and furniture, but the quality isn’t as good as White Ash. Medicinally, Green Ash is used as both a bitter tonic and for the treatment of depression and fatigue.  The inner bark can also be eaten cooked or dried.

Black Ash grows in deep cold swamps, along river banks and shores.  It is highly valued for basket making.  The wood easily separates into thin layers and is not as strong as the other two trees. The bark produces a blue dye.

EAB adult8 1 - Celtic Month of Ash
Emerald Ash Borer

Unfortunately, the Ash trees in Maine have not been able to escape the life threatening damage being caused by the emerald ash borer (EAB).  The EAB is a destructive wood-boring pest native to Asia.  It was discovered in North America in 2002 in Michigan

Today, EAB infestations have been detected in 35 states, including 4 counties in Maine. 
FMI or to report sightings of EAB

To learn more about the folklore of Ash and other native trees in Maine, join me on one of my upcoming nature walks OR schedule a private walk for you and your friends.

Willow Power

pussywillow3 - Willow Power
Pussy Willow (Salix discolor ‘Rosea’) in bloom.

My pink pussy willow (Salix discolor ‘Rosea’), a cultivar of the North American native plant, Salix discolor, is blooming.  The catkins are now elongated with tiny, yellowish flowers — a valuable early nectar + pollen source for bees, and food source for songbirds.

As I look at my willow, I am in awe of its healing abilities and the insight it provides.    They encourage us to be flexible with our thoughts, to learn and explore. 

Medicinally, willow has been a source of medicine for over 3000 years.  Its leaves and bark contain salicin, an anti-inflammatory agent and the active ingredient found in aspirin.

Willows are water loving plants and typically grow in moist areas along ponds, streams, marshes, and wetlands.  Because of their relationship to water, they have a strong connection to both the moon and the feminine energies of birth, creation, and intuition. 

I am grateful for willow’s presence in my life.  Sharing space with willow provides me with opportunities to heal, explore, and expand my knowing.

How can you ask willow to be present in your life?