Our Herb Society stand at Tatton Park 2015

Thyme for Tea at Tatton flower show

RHS Tatton has just finished, and we are really pleased with the way our stand was received! The Herb Society wanted to highlight the many plants and flowers commonly grown in a British garden that could be used as a herbal tea.

thyme for tea

Beautiful garden design by Margaret Kewley with plants from Hooksgreen Herbs

Silver medal for herb exhibit

silver medal herb exhibit

Building the Herb Society exhibit

The preparations for the Cheshire flower show have taken a long time, and organiser Barbara Wilkinson has really had her hands full, particularly over the last few weeks!

herb society stand preparations

The stand was being built a good few days before the show opened on July 22nd

Gorgeous planting with herbs

The exhibit was planted to a lovely design by Margaret Kewley using herb plants from Hooksgreen Herbs. Barbara has done a brilliant job bringing it all together!

planting highlights thyme for tea

Planting highlights include ginkgo, monarda, thyme and clary sage

Dried herbs on the stand

herb stand highlights

Highlights of our stand with labelled dried herbs, herb teas,and information about our society

Press day

tatton people1

James Wong casts his eye over the stand, nervous he might be asked to serve any visitors! Stand organiser Barbara Wilkinson and designer Margaret Kewley

 Volunteers give herb advice on our busy stand

Thank you so much to all the volunteers who helped over the five day event, and in the lead up to it! We would really struggle without all the freely given assistance over the course of the show.

It was lovely to hear from volunteer Hilary Knowles last week, who feels she has gained from the experience too:

“Helping The Herb Society this week at Tatton has been amazing. I know my herbs from a growers perspective, their quirkiness, their loves and ‘hates’, but also I’ve picked up many humorous anecdotal bits and pieces along the way .. the story of “Trill” is my favourite …….

But this week finding myself chatting to so many who wanted not just to ask questions but to recount their own herbal experiences in all their glorious technicolour, I so wished for a voice recorder …. I laughed with them, shared their love and passions, sometimes their sheer endeavour … and with two .. their tears. What a rich listening experience ……. so glad to be there.”

busy herb stand

Just a few of our volunteers: June, Anne and Annie offering advice on our stand

Herbs elsewhere around the show

hooksgreen herbs

Thomas and Malcolm Dickson from Hooksgreen Herbs entered two stands in their own right, winning Silver Gilt for their general herb stand on the left, and Silver for the salvia stand on the right

herbs elsewhere tatton peter

Herbs elsewhere around Tatton: Reaseheath College exhibit; Ladywood School; Adlington Hall

Make herbal teas at home

The Herb Society produced a herb leaflet for this event if you would like to read more about making herbal teas at home.

 

Photo credits – Peter Depledge and Barbara Wilkinson.

 

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Preparing our Herb Society exhibit for RHS flower show Tatton Park 2015

Following last year’s medal success

We were really pleased when last year’s Herb Society team, led by Barbara & Peter Depledge, won a Silver Gilt medal at RHS Tatton with a design for a 16th century herb garden inspired by Gerard’s Herbal, with our 1636 copy of the book available to view on the stand.

This year the theme is Thyme for Tea

chamomomile teaThis year the Cheshire flower show will be held on 22-26 July. To coincide with our theme celebrating the many garden plants which can be used for tea, we will be selling packs of herbal tea on the stand. Herb Society members will be able to take a pack free of charge, so do come along and say hello!

Medical Herbalist Barbara Wilkinson is organising the exhibit this year, and there are many behind-the-scenes activities that need to be carried out well before show week. This Spring Barbara liaised with the designer Margaret Kewley and herb grower Hooksgreen Herbs about our exhibit, and prepared an information leaflet about the use of herbal teas. More recently, she has been sourcing dried herbs, and growing some cornflowers and other herbs in her own allotment for tea-making. Last week she packed them with the help of local volunteers.

Growing and sourcing herbal teas

Barbara wilkinson cornflower cropped

Cornflower coming into flower at the end of May on Barbara’s allotment

herbal tea harvest

Herbs cut in Barbara’s allotment and ready for drying: nigella, lemon balm and vibrant cornflowers among others

barbara wilkinson wholesale teas cropped

Some of the dried herbs for tea supplied by Panacea and Herbs in a Bottle

medical herbalist barbara wilkinsonBarbara says,

“I hope people will enjoy reading about the garden theme ‘Thyme for Tea’ when they get home and remember their visit to the stand and of course HS members can have the added advantage of tasting their free herbal tea in the peace of their own home.”

She adds,

“…we would appreciate members coming to the stand as we would like their feedback on the display…I hope to have a book they can write in with memories of the show.”

 Herb grower assists with exhibit

herbs growing hooksgreen nursery

Herb plants being grown for the exhibit at Hooksgreen Herbs; arbour delivery arriving for the stand

Packing herbal teas

tatton herbal tea volunteers

Happy volunteers packing herbal tea: (L) Margaret and Caroline; (R) June, Pat and Annie

Join the Herb Society

herb society membership pack

Members joining at Tatton will receive a free jute bag and pair of herb snips as well as the usual benefits such as subscription to Herbs magazine. Currently members joining by direct debit receive fifteen months for the price of twelve

 ***Find out how we got on at the show in the next blog post***

To find out more about Herb Society membership, please open the pdf of our leaflet with prices and benefits (link top right of this page).

Out and about with the Herb Society this Summer

This Weekend is Powderham Castle Garden Festival

This event is organised by new Herb Society President Toby Buckland, who has a nursery nearby. Toby has already been very supportive of the society, and there will be many herb-related activities at the event. Powderham is near Exeter, so if you are in the area Fri 1st May or Sat 2nd May 2015, do pop in and visit the lovely volunteers on our stand!

powderham toby

The press release announces:

“Toby Buckland is the new President of The Herb Society, an internationally renowned educational charity, so as part of the festival we are celebrating history, fragrance and flavour of these plants. The Herb Society are bringing a 1636 leather-bound volume of Gerard’s Herball, giving visitors an opportunity to view this 400 year old book, on a rare outing from the Society’s vaults. The St Nicholas Priory “Tudor Herbal Wives” will be demonstrating their many uses and Toby will be discussing practical modern applications of herbs with useful tips and ideas on growing and enjoying them.”

RAMMTudorHerbalWivesby Matt Austin

For tickets and more information, visit tobygardenfest.co.uk

Bowood House Garden Festival

This is another event organised by Toby. Bowood House is in Wiltshire, and the festival will be on 5th and 6th June 2015: find out more via the above link. Again, there will be a strong emphasis on herbs, and a Herb Society stand.

toby buckland bowood house

Image credits for all the above: Matt Austin.

How it went: Read about this great day out for herb enthusiasts

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park

The Herb Society always has a strong showing at this event, last year scoring a Silver Gilt medal. Do come along a support this event, on 22-26 July 2015 in Cheshire.

Medical herbalist Barbara Wilkinson is organising this years stand in the National Plant Societies and Plant Heritage Marquee, and the exhibit will be called “Thyme for Tea”.  The planting will be on the theme of herbal teas, with information available on how to use herbs in teas.
Members will receive a free herbal tea to take home!

Tickets and opening times at rhs.org.uk

Find out how we got on – read the blog post about this years stand at Tatton

Herb Society President’s Day

Members and their guests are invited to visit Toby Buckland at his nursery at Powderham Castle on Sat 5th Sept. The day will be themed on Herbs, Hedgerows & History.

For full details, members should refer to page 6 of the June edition of Herbs magazine.

September update – read Barbara Depledge’s review of this great day out.

Herb Society AGM Ryton Organic

Our AGM and members event will be on Sat 26th Sept at Garden Organic, Ryton. Highlights will be a talk by Toby and a tour of the new herb garden.

Full details can be found on page 6 of the June edition of Herbs magazine.

Flowering herbs in my garden | Summer

Memories of Summer herbs

Now we are into November, and Autumn is truly upon us, I’m enjoying looking back at a Summer of flowers in my Sussex garden.

borders with herbs in my back garden

My back garden – bronze fennel, roses and geraniums, golden hop and self-seeded cerinthe.

The term ‘herb’ is pleasingly general

I look around my garden and see many plants which have been of use to previous generations. It’s lovely to find that plants I have grown for their decorative nature can also be put to good use in times of need. Saponaria used as a herbal detergent in my previous post is a good example.

Self-seeded herbs

borage herb hammock

Self-seeded borage herbs flowering in the veg plot of my summer garden. I often use it as a cucumbery addition to Pimms and fruit punch – I hear you can freeze it into ice cubes too – perfect for a G&T !

self seeded herbs

Marjoram self-seeded in the cracks on my patio – I hang the flowers in small bunches to dry for potpourri making. The borage in my veg patch produced a second generation this year and was joined by self-seeded evening primrose and geraniums.

Making herb tea

herbs growing in my garden mint

I grow mint in pots in my garden to stop it spreading. I make tea from the fresh leaves. When it starts flowering I cut it back to encourage new leafy growth. I do the same with my lemon balm although the flowers aren’t so eyecatching.

lavender herbs in pots

Mint is not the only herb I like to grow in pots. I grow three plants of lavender for tea in zinc florist buckets with holes drilled in the bottom. Of course lavender flowers can be dried and stored for use year round. If I remember rightly this variety is Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’.

My favourite roses and geraniums

I love making potpourri from flowers in my garden. Rose petals add fragrance and colour in shades of pink, while hardy geraniums are not particularly fragrant but do dry to pleasing shades of blue and purple. I used my favourite Rosa Mundi petals amongst others in my potpourri recipes for Herbs magazine September issue*.

roses geraniums

Clockwise from top left: Rosa mutabilis varies in shade between dark and light pink; Geranium palmatum is bigger with more decorative leaves than most species; Rosa mundi has a long history in this country, prettily striped flowers and a great fragrance; a bee visiting geranium x magnificum.

See what herbs were flowering in my garden in Spring

*Herbs is the journal of the Herb Society and is published quarterly. Download our membership leaflet top right of this page to find out about joining.

 

Flowering herbs in my garden | Spring

Many herbs in my garden are now in flower

I live on the Sussex coast in a Victorian terraced cottage about a mile from the sea. I have a small town garden and try to squeeze in a few herbs wherever I can. From March onwards you can see a succession of traditional culinary herbs flowering in my garden such as thyme, chives and rosemary. Chamomile, comfrey and violas have their uses too, and I love my jasmine and scented leaf pelargoniums flowering under glass.

front door

Making herb tea

I am not knowledgeable about the medical uses of herbs, but I enjoy flowers and my garden, and use the plants wherever I can. I enjoy making fresh peppermint, lemon balm and chamomile teas. Chamomile flowers are a big favourite of mine with their apple-like fragrance and simple blooms. Once dried, they can be used in a sleep pillow in a similar manner to lavender. In fact my main hobby is using flowers from the garden in craft, and that often means drying them for use later.

harvesting chamomile herb flowers

Harvesting chamomile flowers to make tea – I dry them for use year-round.

Herbs under glass

scented leaf pelargoniums

My friend Mercy is an avid collector of scented leaf pelargoniums so there are always a few overwintering in my lean-to. Sometimes I dry the leaves and flowers for potpourri.

jasmine flowers

Jasmine flowering in my greenhouse – I don’t make use of it in any way other than to enjoy the enveloping fragrance, but I do hear it has a role to play in hormone regulation.

Flowers in my garden

garden flowers violas

Violas are such a cheery plant in early Spring. I press them for art projects or crystallise them to decorate cakes.

early comfrey flowers

This yellow comfrey (traditionally named knit-bone) is one of the earliest herbs in my garden, flowering from early March.

blue comfrey herb

This comfrey Hidcote Blue grows up to five feet tall and greatly improves the quality of my compost when I cut it down after flowering, due to its high nutrient levels.

early rosemary herb flowers

Rosemary flowers: my plant is still small, but I am looking forward to being able to harvest straight twigs for use as skewers on the barbeque.

Herbs later in the year

As I write this in early June, my pots of lavender are just coming into flower. My favourite flower, the ancient stripy rose Rosa mundi has two buds just thinking about opening, with many more behind. Other herbs such as borage and calendula are on their way. So perhaps another post later in the year!

Do you have any herb pics you’d like to share?

Do email them to me at ruth@herbsociety.org.uk and I will share them with other herb enthusiasts on Facebook and Twitter.