The Gardens at Westminster Abbey

Herbs and serenity in central London

Last week, the London herb group visited Westminster Abbey with Head Gardener and Herb Society member Jan Pancheri. The gardens comprise several areas: Deans Yard; Great Cloister Garth; Little Cloister; St Catherine’s Garden, and the College Garden which contains a beautiful herb area.

outside westminster abbey

Westminster Abbey in the hustle and bustle of central London. On entering the Great Cloister, peace reigns.

little cloister

Once inside the Abbey grounds, the atmosphere is incredibly tranquil, for example in the Little Cloister

st catherines garden

St Catherine’s Garden with column bases and self seeded erigerons

college garden

Corners of the College Garden – roses planted for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee; a grape vine, and bluebells in grass

As herb enthusiasts, it was the herb garden that attracted much of our attention. It is square in shape and separated into quarters, with a central decorative circular bed planted with Rosa Mundi. The four main beds each contain vegetables; culinary herbs; medicinal herbs and dye plants. The garden was opened by the Queen in 2010, and reflects the way herbs may have been used by the Benedictine monks who lived in the Abbey centuries ago.

herb garden

The herb garden beautifully set out with willow edging – we were shown around by Jan (stripy top)

herb garden plants

Herb garden plants that caught my eye: woad; very early nasturtiums; milk thistle, and white flowered borage

greenhouse

It’s always great to see behind the scenes. Jan has a lovely corner of the College Garden for office work and propagation

It was a really enjoyable morning, and Jan was kind enough to include a visit to the Abbey’s impressive library in her tour.

Find out more about Westminster Abbey Gardens

If you are a Herb Society member and would like to join the London herb group, contact Gwenneth at garden@gbz.demon.co.uk

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Herb Day at Hooksgreen

Local Herb Society Meetings

One of the great benefits of becoming a member of the Herb Society is the opportunity to meet like-minded people locally and join in with events.

A few weeks ago, such an event took place for the Northwest Herb Group at Hooksgreen Herbs (Stone, Staffordshire) led by Herb Society Treasurer Malcolm Dickson and his son Thomas.

Malcolm was pleased that the Spring weather was kind on the day. After a welcoming coffee, he made a presentation on “Showing and Growing Herbs” which gave everyone an idea of what Hooksgreen Herbs’ main activities were during a busy show year.

propagating herbs from cuttings

The members were then split into two groups and Thomas demonstrated sowing seed while Malcolm showed the other group how to take cuttings and split mint and oregano. Everyone had a chance to fill a tray with a variety of species which they took home. After a lunch break the groups swapped around.

propagating herbs from seed

Malcolm was pleased to report “The youngest member of the group Ronan was keen to source the herbs he had listed prior to his visit and was able to fill his tray with cuttings and seed.” We think Malcolm should be proud of his ability to inspire new generations, not only within his own family, but from outside it too.

young members welcome Some of Malcolm’s propagation methods were surprising, and he says “Some of the group were amazed to see the use of an old wood saw to split the large pots of mint and oregano, but the resulting four pots illustrated the need to slit and proliferate.”  The day was rounded off with tea and cakes and a quiz by Susie Dickson.

 
See more photos of the day on our facebook page at Facebook.com/herbsocietyuk

Local herb group information is available to members inside the Herbs journal and via our website at herbsociety.org.uk

The Dickson family sell their herbs online and through shows, winning a well-deserved RHS Silver Gilt Medal at the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show. Find out about their 2014 stand