Posted by: lensweb | July 8, 2015

LENS meet the Goddess Weleda

Mon July 6, Weleda Organic Biodynamic Medicinal Herb Gardens (13 acres) + nature reserve with meadow, pond and woodland. Uneven ground, after rain wear boots or strong shoes.
NOTE:  BOOK IN ADVANCE. There is a charge of £5 per person & we will each receive a small goody bag + vouchers worth £5 to spend in the Ilkeston shop.
Meet 7pm in car park at the site in Shipley. Turn left at sign for ‘The Field’ just before garden centre on B6007, Ilkeston – Heanor Road. Weleda’s land is the first gateway/track on left after the first bungalow once you’ve left the B6007. Car park small so please share cars wherever possible.
Grid ref SK 448 448 Postcode DE75 7JB (Shipley Garden Centre)
Leader Claire Hattersley (Garden Manager)

This was the delayed June 1 meeting which was cancelled due to bad weather.


Welcome to the wacky world of Weleda (say ‘wee-leader’). We don’t make cloths and mops. We let beautiful flowers grow in our gardens, naturally.

The earth’s resources are limited and must be conserved. Weleda is part of a world-wide network of business producing homeopathic medicine, traditional herb lotions and potions and natural cosmetics following Dr Rudolf Steiner’s principles of economic, social and environmental responsibility, believing that mind, spirit body are linked holistically to the world. In 1921 his team developed Weleda’s first pharmaceutical products following Goethe’s whole plant concept and the principle of doctrines which aims to identify and harness properties of appropriate plant parts to stimulate the human body’s own healing powers. What make Weleda so special is that the company does all this out of respect, love and responsibility towards nature.

A valerian and hop bordered path leads to a daisied lawn with long, surprisingly formal flower beds, a labelled patchwork of poppies, pansies and purple monkshood. Boundaries are not fixed, plants can wander at will. Common green capsid bugs graze on the occasional aphid – biological control, naturally. Polka dot caterpillars of mullein moth graze on the woolly yellow mullein spires, they will be rehomed at harvest. Weleda has a cure for most complaints. Have you had depression? Salvation in the perforated leaves and yellow starry flowers of St John’s wort. The St John’s wort leaf beetle is gently ejected from the feast.

Traditional herb lotions and potions and natural cosmetics are made from alcoholic and aqueous extracts. Clare describes the sunshine, the fruity aroma, the merry days when the wild strawberry and nettle ethanol tincture is made. In depth study of the whole plant, the flowers, the leaves, the root, the whole life cycle lead the product formulation and research which never stops.

The sad white petals of chamomile belie the physiological impact of the dried heads which may be used sparingly in a tisane or tincture. The grace of birch trees imparts grace to the human body through leaf tea. White bryony reaches out from a wooden support, the weak stems and leaves lack form and structure compared with a bulky root giving clues to it’s potential medicinal properties.

This is a poison garden with black berries of deadly nightshade and white trumpets of thorn apple, tall seed pods of greater celandine and majestic purple spires of monkshood, all base ingredients for homeopathic medicines. Beautiful but aptly named deadly, the many dilutions to the finished preparation mean they are safe to take but can only be prescribed by anthroposcopic medics (look it up).

It is a surprise to see American herbs, the large daisy heads of echinacea, arnica and stark crimson, ‘red’ clover just coming into flower. These are used to make native American products locally.  Weleda grows out of local enthusiasm and commitment to natural principles, hard work and patience.

Reluctantly leaving the flowery beds we enter the calm of a Zen zone. Trees screen  a large newt pond with a swirling leaf design cascade. Reeds and rushes and golden sedge please Brian, who had dug the pond many years before. Poison ivy was grows in the woods, for harvest, Clare and her three gardeners don full space suits with breathing apparatus, Stuart’s labrador had been treated with Rhus, the old name for Toxicodendron the latin name for poison ivy.

Under the tree canopy a tangle of comfrey and nettles, stacked wooden hives buzzing, bees busily working into the late evening with so much nectar to gather. School children love to learn how to harmonise the bounty of nature.

Gravely we contemplate the steaming layers of clover, straw and comfrey, heaps of compost producing organic humus, to be used sparingly as a soil conditioner. No more bonfires, unused branches and stalks are shredded into woodchip piles under the trees, where grass snakes laze in the sun to equilibrate. They lay their rubbery eggs in the heaps of compost where the tiny snakelings are a delight and surprise when turning the compost.

There was no sign of the cowslips in the cowslip meadows leaves buried beneath clover, plantain, yellow rattle and the occasional seeding head of common spotted orchid.  A further meadow seeded from toppings is another floriferous heaven. Clare showed how complex a marigold flower is, the composite nature of the flower head with many tiny florets packed together for major impact to attract the pollinating insects, the pinnacle of flower evolution.

Following the principle of biodynamics Weleda sow and reap according to the phase of the moon. Today was a good day for the painstaking harvest of marigold flowers and leaf tips of Thuja. Our guide is the biodynamic calendar.

A warm and bright evening we had enjoyed and gentle tears of rain fall on our departure. Thank you Clare- fine artist and Garden Manager, thank you for your enthusiasm, your humility, your patience, your hard work, your philosophical guidance, you are our Goddess of Wisdom and Healing, our Weleda.

Marion Bryce 7 July 2015


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