Friday 19 June 2015

Weeds – cultivating a different perspective

I've been thinking about weeds a great deal recently as I’ve been wielding my garden fork in the Cotswolds or running my fingers deep into my Warwickshire-garden raised beds to wrestle an errant root. I have a tendency towards deep despair whenever I return to my herb beds and see them covered in creeping buttercup once again and notice how high the hogweed and docks have grown in just a few weeks. Then there is the guilt when I remove plants growing amongst other plants which I know are useful but I don't have the time or inclination to do anything with at that point in time.

If left alone, ground will return to forest. We've seen trees self- seeding and growing in our fields when they were rented out and set aside for several years. My beds are always screaming “I’m a field, not a pampered garden” if I leave them alone for a month or more.

Becoming an emotional wreck over weeding is not terribly helpful, so I feel it's more productive to learn how to identify your "so-called weeds" as you come across them and ask yourself the following questions.

Can they go on the compost or should they be recycled in a green bin system? E.g. dock seeds and bindweed roots and bits of trees if you don't have a shredder.

Are they poisonous? E.g. buttercups are poisonous i.e can't be eaten by humans or made into anything medicinal but compost well

Can you use them for something? E.g. willowherb is good for prostate, dandelions have numerous uses, docks can be used as tonics and for other things if they have a golden root, chickweed can be eaten raw and is high in Vitamin C, nettles can be eaten when young etc. etc.

Can you make anything from them? E.g. dandelion syrup, dandelion flower salve, chickweed oil for itching)

Can you replant seedlings elsewhere or grow them for sale/barter/gifting? In my garden borage, marjoram, evening primrose, tree spinach, milk thistle, lemon balm, and other herbs self- seed everywhere and I’m constantly wondering if I should be relocating rather than composting

Obviously I only know my own weeds;  some I loathe (hogweed) and some I love and feel guilty removing.  I don't know the relationship you have with your local weeds. You can just hoe them from the plants you are trying to grow and never think about them but I find it helpful to ask one last question

What can your weeds teach you about your garden and yourself?

Monday 8 June 2015

Springfield Sanctuary Festival Programme 2015 11-13 September

This year's programme for the Springfield Sanctuary Festival is now finalised. Lots of fun for everyone. Come and join us in the peace and quiet of the North Cotswold Hills at Wynyards Farm on the road between Lower Swell and Upper Slaughter.


9.00am-12.00pm Set up Marquees and stalls

1.00pm            Lunch

2.00pm – 5.00pm Natural Dyeing Workshop with Tina Blacklock    Springfield Sanctuary

6.00pm            Shared evening meal                                                   Main Marquee

7.30pm            Open Mic                                                                    Main Marquee

9.00am            Creating Herbal Poems and Stories    Sarah Head     Main Marquee

10.00am          Preparing for the unexpected  Lynne Tynan-Cashmore     Main Marquee

11.00am           Blending Herbal Teas                          Debs Cook      Main Marquee

12.00pm          Sky Symphony Kite Display Team                             Kite Arena

12.30pm          Gathering Herbal Allies                                         Springfield Sanctuary

1.00pm            Lunch                                                                    Main Marquee

1.30pm            Creating Scented Herbal Bags                                    Main Marquee

2.00pm            Capturing Images of Herbal Allies Trish Fearnley      Main Marquee

3.00pm            Tea and Kites  with Sky Symphony                           Kite Arena

3.30pm            Capturing Images of Herbal Allies continued            Main Marquee

4.30pm            Creating Herbal Stories and poems    Sarah Head     Under the Ash Tree

6.00pm            Shared evening meal                                                   Main Marquee

7.30pm            Open Mic                                                                    Main Marquee


9.00am            Creating your own medicines -Gathering Sarah Head   Springfield Sanctuary
10.00am          Medicine From Forgotten Herbs        Ali English                    Main Marquee

11.00am           Developing a Herbal Business            Penny Thompson        Main Marquee

12.00pm          Sky Symphony Kite Display Team                                         Kite Arena

12.30pm          Creating your own medicines – Macerating   Sarah Head     Main Marquee

1.00pm            Shared Lunch                                                                   Main Marquee

1.30pm            Creating Scented Herbal Bags                                          Main Marquee

2.00pm            Perils and Pitfalls in Beekeeping        Adele Fernandez         Main Marquee

3.00pm            Tea and Kites  with Sky Symphony                                       Kite Arena

3.30pm            Herb Walk with Sarah Head                                 Springfield Sanctuary

Pryce Watkins Woodturner

Raffle prize kindly donated by JustBotanics

Cost: The festival is completely funded by donations. We suggest a donation of £50 for attending the entire weekend or £25 per day.

Booking: Email:sarah at headology dot co dot uk or mobile 07920145639.

Please bring
-        notebooks and something to write with for the creating writing slots and to take notes during the talks and workshops
-        vodka, cider vinegar, brandy, honey plus empty jam jars with lids for creating your own medicine session
-        food to share for lunches (3) and evening meals (2) plus saucepans to heat food in
-        cake/muffins/biscuits for tea
-        cameras to record different herbs
-        musical instruments, stories, poetry, songs and jokes for Open Mics
-        camping or caravanning equipment (water and toilets(portaloos) provided)
-        kites (only to be flown in the kite arena)