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.
Developing the herb garden
“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’.
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’.
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.