Herb Walks At Emerson
Wednesday, 07 July 2021
The gardens at Emerson are legendary. The ancient trees, the landscape, the views and the biodiversity are all second to none. And if you look closely, you will find an endless display of medicinal plants in and around the gardens.
Herbalist heaven! This is what attracted me to Emerson when I first came to Forest Row with my family in 2014. We came because we wanted our daughter to go to the Michael Hall school – which is also known for its unique gardens, views, ancient trees and landscapes – as well as being an excellent school.
First, we discovered Tablehurst – a haven for families with an interest in green living and non-polluted vegetables. We hung out in the cafe garden, bought our vegetables in the farm shop, became members of the Tablehurst/Plawhatch Cooperative, and enjoyed being part of a community of likeminded people.
On walks with the dogs, I noticed the amazing biodiversity around Tablehurst, so many plants that have been sprayed to near-extinction elsewhere, thrive here. As a herbalist, my interest in weeds is usually greater than my interest in the cultivated plants they grow among.
I began to stray in bigger circles from the farm, always with my eyes firmly focused on the verges, excited and amazed by what I found – every month so different with new species replacing others in an endless seasonal display of diversity.
One day, I ended up in the Emerson Gardens, fell in love with it, became part of it and had the privilege of founding the botanic garden and the apothecary garden. So, I have now added several scores of species to the already flourishing crop of diverse medicinal plants that grow here. My team and I have registered over 500 different plant species in the gardens. There are many more! And to show you, my fellow plant lovers, how many different edible and/or medicinal plant species we are surrounded by here in Forest Row, I am now leading monthly herb walks, always starting from Emerson. Walking two good hours at a slow pace, I lead you on a herbal treasure hunt to find 16 seasonal medicinal plants and show you how to use them as food and medicine. Different plants every month, of course.
Kirsten Hartvig ND, MNIMH, DipPhyt is a medical herbalist, registered naturopath, nutritionist, writer, and author of 14 books on herbs and plant foods as medicine. She is also a keen botanist, cook and herb gardener.
Kirsten is curator of the Biodynamic Botanic Garden at Emerson College, and manager of The Healing Garden,which is the apothecary part of the botanic garden.
She also teaches materia medica at the Heartwood Education professional course in herbal medicine.