Harvesting course at Holt Wood

Welcome to Holt Wood Herbs News, our occasional newsletter round-up from Anne and Kay, about Holt Wood and the Medicinal Forest Garden Trust.

Courses at Holt Wood
We have had some amazingly positive feedback on our courses in May about designing and harvesting the medicinal forest garden. You can see dates of courses in June on our calendar of events in 2019. There are still a few spaces available on some of our June courses at Holt Wood. Cost £68 includes food, handouts and materials, booking and details at www.holtwoodherbs.com/events

Smallwoods Magazine medicinal tree quiz

We have had an article with a quiz about medicinal trees in the Smallwoods Magazine, here is one of the questions, if you want the whole quiz and answers then get in touch!

Question: Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is an introduced tree from China widely planted in urban areas. The leaves provide an anti-inflammatory remedy. When should the leaves be harvested?

Answer: (a) spring or (b) summer or (c) autumn (you can see the right answer at the end of this newsletter ***)

Permaculture Magazine news

We had a mention about a forthcoming article about coppicing at Holt Wood, see the news item on the Permaculture magazine website.

Buckfast Abbey Fair in 2019
We were back at Buckfast Abbey on Saturday 1st June 2019 – lots of brilliant stalls (including ours!), ranging from organic vegetable plants to  fabulous talks (including one by Anne on herbal medicines in the garden). Worth a visit at any time, there is free entry to the gardens including a superb lavender garden, and they do guided tours.

Progress with a new rose bed

We have planted a glorious old rose bed at Holt Wood – after last year’s distillation of roses which was FANTASTIC – we had to see if we could produce more. So we have established six old rose species with strong scents. We can’t wait to see how they do, as yet, mostly buds. The varieties we have selected are:

Louise Odier (Bourbon rose 1851), Cardinal de Richelieu (Shrub rose 1840), Fantin-Latour (Shrub centifolia 1900), Fisher Holmes (Hybrid perpetual 1865), Comte de Chambord (Portland rose 1860) and Felicite Parmentier (Alba rose 1834)

Roses for distilling

Harvesting of Witch Hazel started in May at Holt Wood

Included in the medicinal planting at Holt Wood is Virginian Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), a small tree which provides a source for witch hazel distilled water. Distilled witch hazel is used  in cosmetics and first aid remedies including eye drops. It is an ideal anti-inflammatory remedy for spots and stings and also a skin toner. Almost all supplies of distilled witch hazel worldwide are imported from the USA. So far production in Devon is a first and it is on a small scale, so supplies are limited. Growing in Devon does mean that we can avoid the extra transport of imported goods and reduce the airmiles associated with these imports.

Try your hand at making a herbal poultice

A yarrow poultice

Have a look at our blog post about soothing poultices and compresses – an ancient technique that could make a comeback? Many herbs can be used including Yarrow, Plantain, Chickweed and more.

What is Holt Wood all about

Holt Wood is a small woodland area which has been transformed from a redundant conifer plantation into a delightful medicinal forest garden. It is near the River Torridge in Devon and used to be part of a Sitka spruce plantation. Now it is an innovative project where cultivation of medicinal trees and shrubs is being explored. The site has been planted with a range of native and introduced medicinal plants since felling the conifers in 2005. There are many layers of plants from ground herbs to climbers, shrubs and trees. Through Holt Wood Herbs, courses are being offered to show how to design a medicinal forest garden and ways that the abundant harvest can be made into herbal remedies and body care preparations.

July open afternoon

You are most welcome to join us for an open afternoon, 2-4 pm on Saturday 20 July 2019. Find out about how Holt Wood works to produce medicinal tree and shrub supplies. This open afternoon includes a walkabout to see what is growing and you can hear how the wood is progressing. You will see some of the woodland products that can be made for herbal health. Boots advised as ground is uneven. Booking in advance is essential as places are limited. To book a free place, email us at info@holtwoodherbs.com

***Answer to the medicinal tree quiz question: (c) Ginkgo leaves are said to be richest in flavonoids in the autumn when yellowing.