This work in herbalism & regenerative horticulture revolves around the Herbal Apiary medicine garden. Hayley has been guardian to this small patch of land (approx. 1/4 of an acre) since 2017 & tends to it using permaculture & forest garden principles ~ working alongside what is naturally there.
We have a deep respect for this piece of land ~ for its diversity, beauty & how it supports us & our bodies. Our aim is to cultivate a healing, reciprocal relationship with the land and its web ~ understanding that we are not separate from anything that happens or lives & grows there.
The approach to gardening is intuitive ~ starting always with slow & careful observation of what (& why) is presenting itself on the land. We spent a year intimately observing this piece of land before slowly starting to establish the first no-dig herb beds using mulch & herbal ground cover plants.
We follow the principle that plants never naturally leave a piece of soil uncovered so use a variety of ground cover plants & mulch to protect the health of the soil. Look after the soil & the soil looks after everything else! The herbal ground cover species include ground ivy, sweet woodruff, self heal, white clover, strawberry, creeping thyme, creeping savoury, corsican mint and dwarf comfrey. We use woodchip, scythed grass cuttings (dedicated to the scythe!), cardboard, sheepswool & mypex in tougher situations.
Since we have been guardians to this land, it has diversified to over 70 species of medicinal plants. The garden is home to mice, slow worms, common lizards, rabbits, stoats and has visits from buzzards, grass snakes, barn owls, toads, deer, many small birds and probably many more that we haven’t yet met.
The herbs and remedies we offer are grown regeneratively & hand harvested from the herbal apiary. We sometimes work with herbs that are ‘wild’ gathered responsibly and honourably. We are trying to lessen my impact in this way by introducing the species we gather ‘wild’ to the herbal apiary.
People often comment on the incredible colour & smell of the herbs we offer which is an indication of their potency. They tend to be more vibrant than shop bought herbs because each herb is gathered at an exact seasonal moment & lunar phase that is most suited to its particular medicine.
As our home apothecary is small, the herbs we offer are dried in darkness within an hour of harvest & are never stored for longer than a year or in daylight. This careful processing captures and maintains the medicinal compounds within the herbs very well. Each season, each year, a new vibrant harvest is gathered in from the land so freshness is guaranteed.
A note about bees ~ I used to keep honeybees on this land hence the name ‘herbal apiary’. After a long journey with honeybees in my life and on this land, it no longer felt right to continue to house them. In 2020, I gifted our hives to a nearby apiary. Everything I do here is still in service to both honeybees and wild bees. My aim with the herbal apiary is to provide as much medicinal forage the year round for all pollinators. In the wild, honeybees would choose to live 1km apart and with that vision, I see every piece of land within 1km of a honeybee hive as ‘apiary’.