Weeds and Wild Medicine

Weeds and Wild Medicine

Weeds and Wild Medicine with medical herbalists Edwina Hodkinson and Danielle Kayat Offshoots Permaculture Project, Towneley Park, Burnley, Lancashire BB11 3RQ

Visit www.weedsandwildmedicine.com/ to book

Join wild women herbalists Edwina Staniforth (Hodkinson) and Danielle Kay in the magic permaculture garden at Offshoots in Burnley for our 5th year of Weeds and Wild Medicine! This transformational course will help you reconnect to the Earth and learn the basics of this ancient form of healing. The course runs once a month over 8 months (with a break for summer), so you get to know and work with the plants as the wheel of the year turns. Set within Towneley Park, we harvest the plants from the organic permaculture garden and surrounding woodlands, hedgerows and grasslands. Working mainly outside, we learn to identify wild medicinal plants, following their growth and change from early spring to late autumn and we teach you how to use them in medicine making and wild food. By the end of the course you will know how to make salves, creams, vinegars, tinctures, lotions, herbal oils, honeys, elixirs, teas, nettle beer, fruit leathers, glycerites, hydrosols, flower essences, dandelion coffee, wild garlic pesto and more; some of which you will be able to take home for personal use. 
The course is £480 for the whole course or £70 to do an individual day.
Dates for 2019 are: Saturday 30 March, 27 April, 18 May, 15 June, 20 July, 21 September, 26 October, 16 November.

Places are limited so book now to guarantee yours.

Saturday 30 March, 27 April, 18 May, 15 June, 20 July, 21 September, 26 October and 16 November.

Total cost is £480 or £70 to do an individual day.

Jan Greenland

Jan Greenland

I write with great sorrow about the death of Jan Greenland, who passed unexpectedly on Wednesday 28 November. Jan had struggled for years with health problems, which restricted her activities, but she was always positive and happy, and most people were unaware of her problems. A few years ago at Tatton Flower Show she had such a bad attack of asthma that she was lapsing in and out of consciousness, was taken by ambulance to hospital, and very nearly died. More recently her health had been steady, so her death was a shock and a surprise to everyone. 

She leaves behind her husband of 59 years, Colin, her son Jonathan, and her two grandchildren, Oliver and Imogen.   
Jan was already on the Council of the Herb Society when I joined and remained on it all the time I was there, and only retired comparatively recently.  Jan and Colin became great friends of mine, and I stayed with them many times in their beautiful Victorian home in Leek.   
In her younger days, Jan lived in the countryside of Somerset, Herefordshire and Shropshire, and worked for two years on dairy and mixed farms, a pre-requisite of specialist training in Rural Home Economics at Usk and Worcester.  She majored in any training she undertook, and spent a lot of her career teaching adults cookery, from Cordon Bleu to Vegetarian.  She was invited to speak four times at the Oxford Symposium of Food and Drink, and gave talks and demonstrations around the world on a wide range of garden and food-related topics, from ancient breads to Georgian feasts. 
In the 1990s, she became interested in herbs and rented a 0.45 hectare walled garden which enabled her to indulge this passion in a practical way.  She restored this from nothing and formed a collection of 350 rare and unusual plants and herbs, enhanced by knowledge gained through membership of The Cottage Garden Society, The Hardy Plant Society, the NCCPG, the Countryside Restoration Trust, and the Herb Society.
A committed environmentalist (a member of Friends of the Earth and the Soil Association) she was also a ‘Friend of the Slug’, which she viewed as a poor persecuted creature whose main function is to eat up dead and decaying matter.  She never used slug pellets or killed them, and in a properly balanced garden found they did little damage.
She continually gave and attended classes and courses, and researched primary source material in archives.  She was a first class schmoozer, and introduced the Society to many well-known people.  Jan was an enthusiastic member of the Council, never failing to surprise with her varied and innovative ideas.
She once told me an amusing little story which I will pass on, as I like to remember Jan with a laugh.  A few years ago she and Colin took the Eurostar down to the south coast of France.  Coming back to London they couldn’t find their return train tickets to Stoke, and after much searching through their bags, were forced to buy another two tickets.  As they were approaching Stoke station, Colin suggested to Jan that he go forward to the luggage rack and bring the suitcases out, and she exit from the door nearest to her.  When the train pulled in, the doors were open for such a short space of time that Jan was unable to get out before they closed again, and the train pulled away, leaving Jan stuck on board.  She had the money, house key and mobiles with her, and didn’t know what Colin would do marooned on Stoke platform with no means of getting home, and no way of contacting her.  When the next station arrived (Macclesfield), she ensured she was at the ready, and got off as quickly as she could.  When all the dust had cleared and the train had pulled away, Jan looked up and down the platform wondering how to get back to Stoke, and her eye fell upon a gentleman standing on the platform with two suitcases.  Colin!  They had never been so glad to see each other! 
You may have guessed that Colin was also unable to get off at Stoke due to the short time the train was at the platform.  Oh, and when they finally got home and Jan unpacked her suitcase, there were their return train tickets in the bottom of it ….
A Celebration of Life will be held for Jan at a future date, which Colin thinks will probably be mid March. 
I will miss my dear, humorous, enthusiastic friend.

Nicky Westwood

School of Homeopathy

Come and join us at the School of Homeopathy for a highly stimulating weekend of teaching – our May teaching weekend is open to all homeopaths and students of homeopathy.
Teacher: Dr Farokh Master
Dates: Sat 11th & Sun 12th May 2019
Location: School of Homeopathy, Stroud, Gloucestershire
Level: Ideal for homeopathic practitioners and students
Fee: £180.00 
Bookings: Call 01453 765 956

Anne McIntyre: Herbal Medicine

Anne McIntyre: Herbal Medicine

In 2019 Anne is offering opportunities to study with her at two different levels. The first course over 8 days is devised for herb lovers, students and practitioners alike. She will introduce you in some detail to the inspiring concepts of Ayurveda and relate these to an understanding of yourselves and others. The aim of Ayurveda is nothing short of moksha which means bliss!

We will be looking both at the herbs which surround us as well as those used traditionally within the Ayurvedic tradition. Each herb has unique wisdom and pranic attributes which give it energetic effects as well as pharmacological constituents and its potential ability to heal. Herbs can impart their intelligence to us and help balance disturbances that create health problems in mind and body, and reconnect us with consciousness. We will discuss the herbs, their pranic qualities and how they may be used from both Western and Eastern perspectives for a range of different health issues.

Weekday dates (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) through 2019:
April 9th – 10th
June 18th – 19th
July 16th – 17th
October 8th – 9th

For those who already have a basic understanding of herbal medicine and Ayurveda, Anne is also offering a second year course which will follow on from her first year apprenticeship last year. The weekend dates for this course are – 

March 23rd – 24th
June 16th – 16th
October 12th – 13th
November 9th – 10th

The courses will be held at Anne’s home in the Cotswolds, where she has a herb garden with over 150 medicinal plants laid out in a spiral that represents a journey through life expressed through herbs. B&Bs are available nearby for accommodation. 

The cost of the courses including a delicious organic lunch on both days and all written material is £680. Full payment is required by February 1st 2019. 
There are a very limited number of places for these courses. To secure a place please email: clinic@annemcintyre.com 

Thank you!
Calming Bath Salts

Calming Bath Salts

Bath salts seem like an old-fashioned idea, but they are so unbelievably therapeutic. They are high in magnesium, a very important mineral that many of us are deficient in. Bathing in salts is one of the most accessible ways to get magnesium into our bodies, and they are especially good to use after exercise or when our muscles really need some TLC. They will also help to contribute to a good night’s sleep. You can add a variety of dried herbs from your garden – I use chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, rosemary, but there are so many more herbs you could add:


200g glass jar

200g bath salts (Epsom or magnesium)

essential oils:     lavender – 15 drops

geranium – 8 drops

petitgrain – 7 drops

optional: botanicals – dried lavender flowers, calendula petals, chamomile flowers or rose petals


  • Weigh the bath salts into your jar
  • Drip on your essential oil.
  • If using, sprinkle in a few rose petals, dried lavender or botanicals of choice.
  • Gently stir. Wait for 24 hours before using the product.

 To Use: use a large handful in your bath; relax in the bath for at least 15 minutes to absorb the benefits of the salts.


NB: if you have high blood pressure, please use a small amount.

Provided by Lisa @ LJ’s Natural Solutions

Natalie Hodgson – Lady in Lavender

Natalie Hodgson – Lady in Lavender

By Nicky Westwood

Some of you may remember Natalie Hodgson, beekeeper, lavender farm owner, and long-time member of the Herb Society. I was recently reminded about her when chatting with Herb Society Fellow, Jan Greenland, and later Jan sent me an article from the August 1998 Shopshire magazine. Jan, as you can tell, is someone who never throws anything away! Natalie is on the cover, looking thoughtfully at her lavender field, and with her large Elizabethan mansion in the background. Natalie died in December 2007 at the age of 95, but for those of you who knew her, and those that didn’t, I thought I would bring her briefly back to life.


Natalie was one of those people you meet less and less now. She was part of the generation that had lived through WWII and come out stronger and brighter and firmer. She was a bundle of energy, and always full of ideas.

Born in Coventry in 1912 she was educated at Sherborne and The Sorbonne in Paris. She worked at the Foreign Office in London, and after the Second World War was a senior librarian. She and her late husband, Benji, moved to Astley Abbotts in 1953 and she took an active part in politics serving as an Independent member on Shropshire
County Council. They have three children and nine grandchildren.

After 51 years of marriage she was widowed in 1989 and found herself perforce the chief gardener at Astley Abbotts, and grew 100 different herbs, having prior to Benji’s death described herself as “pig ignorant” about plants. This garden was a popular call on the Shropshire circuit for the National Gardens Scheme.

Not satisfied with keeping the garden alive, she started a lavender farm, planting over 5,000 lavender plants. She said “I just turn up the soil where I want the plants to grow and put in two or three cuttings. Then I put the top off a plastic bottle over them and they usually do well. I have a 70% success rate.” This was open to the public from
June to August, providing help to local organisations. The farm produced its own wax polish, oils and pot pourri. Natalie ran lavender workshops, instructing others on how to make fragrant products from the plant’s flowers and foliage.


Natalie was well aware of the need for pollination. Describing herself as “a bit batty” she then installed twenty eight bee hives near the lavender field which included eight in Astley Abbotts Bee Village, complete with Bee Inn and Pollen Row. She ruefully observed to Jan Greenland, Herb Society Fellow, “Sadly more bees frequent the pub
than the church.”

There was always something lovely about being around Natalie, and I visited her several times at Astley Abbotts, and spoke to her often on the phone. She would say “This may be the last time you speak to me!” with wonderful valour and intrepidity, as though she would be off on another adventure. Somehow the idea of her going never
seemed likely: she had too much energy and enthusiasm.

Natalie became the oldest English author on record at the age of 93 when she wrote “Fateful Beauty”, the story of Frances Coke, whose father, Sir Edward Coke, introduced the Petition of Rights into Parliament. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Frances Coke lived during England’s Civil War. She was married off by her father to a man she didn’t
love, and her life was a short and unhappy one – she died at the age of 40 having been turned out of the home, and with no rights to see her children. Natalie decided to tell her story because it was a lot which befell many women of the time. The story sticks with me to this day.

At 95 Natalie’s love of bees led her, despite contrary family advice, to a bee keeping conference in Asia. She suffered DVT as a result of the return journey, which ultimately led to a heart attack. However, prior to her departure from this world, she celebrated her 95th birthday at the House of Lords, where a get-together was organised by her elder son, Lord Robin Hodgson, of Astley Abbotts. She always did things in style!

Fateful Beauty: The Story of Francis Coke (1602-1642) by Natalie Hodgson is published by Eye Books ISBN: 1903070503

Making herbal vinegars

Infusing herbs in vinegar is a nice way to capture and store the flavours and properties of different herbs throughout the season. They can be used for cooking, medicine, cosmetics, hair and skin tonics and even household cleaning. Vinegar is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and has anti-inflammatory properties. It contains acetic acid that acts as a solvent and preservative. Vinegars are particularly useful for extracting minerals from herbs eg. calcium and other alkaline minerals. They are also useful for extracting the flavours of pungent and aromatic herbs.


  1. Fill your jar loosely with chopped up herbs
  2. Cover with any type of vinegar eg. apple cider, rice, balsamic, red wine
  3. Leave in a dark place for up to 4 weeks remembering to shake the jar every few days.
  4. Strain out the herbs and store in a cool, dark cupboard.

Take 1 teaspoon a day for a mineral dose or use in salads and cooking. You can also infuse fruits and berries into vinegars. Infused vinegars have a shelf life of about 2 years.

Herb combinations to try

Take internally
Digestive Tonic: Dandelion root, Yellow dock root, Thyme, Sage, Basil, Fennel, Oregano
Circulatory Stimulant: Rosemary, Chilli, Hawthorn berries, Cinnamon
Mineral rich: Nettle, Horsetail, Chickweed, Dandelion leaves and root, Burdock root, Mallow root and Cleavers
Inflamed joints/Arthritic conditions: Stinging nettles
Use externally
Skin – Mint, Marigold and Rose, dilute 2-3 tablespoons in a basin of water and use as a general face toner
Hair – Rosemary, Sage, Chamomile, dilute 4 tablespoons in 250ml of water and massage into the hair and scalp after shampooing