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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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.