by Katie Shellard
As part of my training as an apprentice with Sensory Solutions I have to create a community herb garden. In any size, shape or form that I choose. If only all “homework” was this fun!
My whole experience of working with plant medicine over the past four years has centred around connection. Herbs bring people together. They start conversations and these conversations awaken in us the ancient knowledge of gathering and preparing plants, and of trusting our senses. We may have forgotten that we know how to do this, but the information is still there. It’s in our DNA. We can never fully forget.
A community herb garden is a powerful tool to reconnect people with plants and with each other.
I decided to create my garden in my familial town of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. The council advised against my original plan to create a herb garden on the main high street due to risk of vandalism (anything can happen in the ‘burbs). They were however prepared to give me seven whole beds in Oakmere Park to plant in the summer. This was far beyond my expectations, and after meeting the head gardener to discuss what herbs would work best in which beds, to say I was excited would be an understatement.
I dug out my paper, pencils and herb books – and got designing. For this garden to succeed, it needs to be engaging. It needs to be accessible and interactive.
I decided to theme each bed with herbs for specific conditions. Which I’ll share with you here, should you wish to create your own community herb garden or even plant your own at home. If you’re interested in creating a community herb garden I recommend starting by contacting your local council. Some parks have a budget for projects that encourage public participation, and welcome volunteers with ideas and enthusiasm.
Alternatively, you could reach out to local shops, restaurants or pubs who may want to host a herb garden. Others in my course have created gardens at alternative health centres, planting herbs in wellie boots and old tea pots, and getting creative with whatever materials and plants are available.
Hertsmere Council have been amazing to work with so far. We’ll be creating the themed beds listed below in June 2018:
Culinary Herbs — Thyme, Oregano, Peppermint, Spearmint and Lemon Balm
Healing Blooms — Chamomile, Calendula, Yarrow, St. John’s Wort
Cold and Flu Remedies — Rosemary, Marshmallow and Meadowsweet
Herbs for Happiness — Fennel, Heather and Daisy
Herbs for Digestion — Angelica, Milk Thistle and Chamomile
Herbs for Women — Mugwort, Ladie’s Mantle and Red Clover
Breathe Easy Herbs — Mullein, Elecampane and Sage
Now Spring is approaching, we’ll start to plan how to engage the local community and let them know the garden is happening and how to get involved. We’ll also be thinking about how best to communicate the medicinal benefits of the herbs through signage in the park, a page on the council website.
If you’re in the Potters Bar area and want to get involved, please contact Katie.
Katie is in her third and final year of the Sensory Herb Apprenticeship. She’s an Holistic Therapist based in North London / South Herts.