The Blackden Trust Herb Collaboration

Herb Talk at the Old Medicine House

The Herb Society has many local groups and a list of speakers available to give talks on a variety of herb-related topics. Sue Hughes, Trustee of the Herb Society delivered a presentation to the Tatton Garden Society at the Blackden Trust on 30 June.  The Blackden Trust manages the Old Medicine House, a Tudor apothecary’s residency which was moved to the Cheshire site from Staffordshire in the 1970s.

old medicine house

Developing the herb garden

Planting herbs blackden

Planting herbs at Blackden a couple of years ago. The garden is now thriving

Sue says,
“The Herb Society have been working with the Trust to develop a herb garden based on the plants listed in John Gerard’s Herbal.  John Gerard was a son of Cheshire, being born in Nantwich in 1545, and the Herb Society owns a copy of a 1636 version of his Herbal.”

Folklore of herbs

Sue’s presentation was on the historical uses and folklore of herbs, including references direct from the Herbal in particular where Gerard describes uses of herbs in the north of England.  For instance,
‘The women of our Northerne parts especially about Wales and Cheshire do turne the herbe ale-hoofe into their ale; but the reason thereof I know not’.
(Ale-hoof was the common name for ground ivy).
For marjoram Gerard says,
‘the leaves boiled in water, and the decoction drunke, easeth such as are given to over much sighing’.
herbal folklore
Sue reports,
The group greatly enjoyed learning about the herbs and along with a tour of the house they also had the opportunity to view the Herbal and tour the Herb Garden.

Visiting the Medicine House

The Medicine House and garden are open to booked groups and for a range of conducted tours.  Look at the website for more details www.theblackdentrust.org.uk.  Perhaps you will encounter the herbs of John Gerard and discover some of their history,
‘The leaves and floures of Borage put into wine make men and women glad and merry, driving away sadnesses, dullnesse and melancholy’.
sue hughes blackden
The Herb Society copy of Gerard’s Herbal is due to be displayed at the Garden Museum in London which reopens in early 2017 after extensive refurbishment.
Image credits Sue Hughes.

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Herb Society events 2016

It’s May and the sun is shining on herb gardens around the country

A great time of year to get out and about for herbal inspiration

RHS Flower Shows

Chelsea Flower Show this year is 24-28 May. The Herb Society doesn’t take a stand at this event, but we can guarantee a profusion of herbs! For example former Herb Society President Jekka McVicar has designed the St John’s Hospice garden entitled A Modern Apothecary. Herb exhibitors include Hooksgreen Herbs, run by our own Chairman Malcolm Dickson and his family. Another Chelsea regular is Downderry Nursery, the well known lavender grower.

The Herb Society has had a strong showing at RHS Tatton Park Flower Show in Cheshire in the last few years, with our stand scoring a Silver Gilt medal in 2014 and a Silver in 2015. Although we are not exhibiting this year, again it’s bound to be a great show for herbs – visit from 20 to 24th July 2016.

herbs for tea tatton flower show

Detail from the Herb Society exhibit at Tatton 2015. Image credit Peter Depledge

Herb Society Summer Gathering and AGM at Cressing Temple FREE to members

On 30 July 2016, starts at 10am, Free to Herb Society Members

Cressing Temple, between Witham and Braintree in Essex, has the most fantastic and unique buildings and gardens.  Given to the Knights Templar in 1137, its Grade I-listed Barley and Wheat Barns, built in the 13th century, are among the oldest timber barns in the world and few surviving Templar buildings in England.
cressing temple herb garden Jan 2015

Cressing Temple and its herb gardens from the air

Among Cressing Temple’s gardens, the Walled Garden is faithfully reconstructed as a Tudor pleasure garden, featuring an extensive collection of herbs commonly grown in 1600 – one of few in the country.
The Herb Society’s summer gathering and AGM is kindly being hosted by Friends of Cressing Temple Gardens.  To coincide with this event, on the weekend of 30 and 31 July, Cressing is holding a Healthy Living and Wellbeing Fair.
The event kicks off at 10am in the conference room with refreshments on arrival followed by the AGM.  For lunch, you can have a bite to eat at The Barns tearoom (www.trooms.com), picnic in the grounds or purchase food at the Healthy Living Fair.  You will have the afternoon to wander the fair which continues until 5pm.
herbs cressing temple Knot garden

Herbs in the knot garden at Cressing Temple

As an Herb Society member attending the AGM you will have free entry to the Fair which will include plant stalls, talks and demonstrations, including a firing of a 19th century bread oven and demonstration of traditional bread baking.  The Herb Society will take a stand reflecting the history of the Tudor Herb Garden.  There will be a modest entry charge for those not attending the AGM.
To book your place please email info@herbsociety.org.uk marked for the attention of Nicky our organiser.
We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Herb Society Members’ Day at Dilston Physic Garden

On 8 October 2016

 Do keep this day free for a visit to this relaxing and educational spot near Corbridge, Northumberland. Dilston Physic Garden is a charity with a unique and modern physic garden set up for the public and educational purposes. Individuals, groups, schools, colleges and universities visit to learn about the health benefits and medicines from plants.
The garden is separated into herb beds each with their own specific areas of interest, from woodland to culinary, from a medicinal meadow to the Time Space Zone taking you through medicinal plants of the past and from around the world. At Dilston you will discover plants used in traditional herbalism along with the latest clinical, chemistry and biology information that sits behind the folklore.
For our special members’ day, not only will there be a tour of this fabulous site, but also talks by Ross Menzies and Nicolette Perry about medicinal herbalism and plants for the brain. Places are limited and cost £20 per Herb Society member.
To book your place please email info@herbsociety.org.uk marked for the attention of Nicky our organiser.

 

Local events

There are many more garden festivals and events up and down the country this summer. The Herb Society supports a network of local groups, so do check your local branch to see if they are planning an event. A list of local herb groups is listed in our journal Herbs, which is posted out to all members, or contact us to find out more.

If you are planning an event, or know of one that other herb enthusiasts might be interested in, do please comment below or email ruth@herbsociety.org.uk for a mention on Facebook or Twitter.

 

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.

Silver Gilt for the Herb Society at RHS Tatton Park

Herb Society pleased to exhibit at RHS flower show

RHS Tatton Park is held in magnificent parklands in Cheshire. Herb Society council members Barbara and Peter Depledge led a team of North West group volunteers to create a display typical of a 16th century herb garden. They used top quality plants supplied by society trustee Malcolm Dickson and son Thomas at Hooksgreen Herbs.

A Tudor herb garden

Herb society stand at RHS Tatton

The choice of a garden from this period was decided upon to tie in with the work of John Gerard (1545-1612), the renowned  herbalist from Cheshire. In fact, the Herb Society has a 1636 copy of his Herbal, which was on display at the show. The plants were chosen to be as authentic to the period as possible and including teasels, lavender, mullein, calendula and many other useful herbs.

The beautiful Tudor building pictured at the rear of the display is the Old Medicine House in Blackden, Cheshire which was at one time an apothecary’s house. It is run by the Blackden Trust and the Herb Society is planning further collaboration with them in the future.

Herb Society volunteers

Volunteers were very important to the success of the event, and we would like to thank everyone that took part. Peter and Barbara had a total of 27 volunteers from the North West group over the 8 days which is a fantastic response! Pictured below are volunteers Pat Sweetingham filling lavender bags and Sharon Goddard mixing a herb tea. The central photo features the Gerard Herbal, and a selection of herb products for sale.

tatton flower show volunteers

Pictured below are L-R: volunteer Peter Bowen, Rachel de Thame, Barbara Depledge, and volunteer Sue Hughes in Tudor costume.

volunteers herb society rachel de thame

Rachel de Thame visited the stand on press day and was very interested in the display, later commenting on Twitter (@herbsocietyuk) “Fascinating stand”.

A successful event for the Herb Society

A couple of days into the event, Peter was pleased to report, “the stand has been incredibly busy and very popular with lots of positive comments about our overall design/theme, the herb beds, educational materials and our products; we’ve had to restock our products twice and we’ve signed up a good number of new members!”

RHS Tatton 2014 Silver Gilt

So thank you to everyone involved for a really successful show, and congratulations on your achievement!
Thanks to Peter Depledge for letting us use his photos in this post.

Watch out for an article about the show in a forthcoming issue of Herbs magazine.