Summer passed in a speedy haze and with autumn’s palate well on its way, our attention in the herb garden has already turned to preparing the beds for winter. 

Working on the land, we are confronted with the cycle of the seasons, the growth and decay of life in its raw state, and medicinal herbs can especially attune our minds and bodies to that which nature provides. 

The arduous spring preparation in the herb garden thankfully paid off. New beds were sown, planted and mulched. Some beds were under sown with green manures to suppress weeds, protect soil from the summer sun, improve soil structure and increase organic matter. Any unused beds were sown similarly with buckwheat, phacelia, clovers and radish which gave the garden an added buzz of vitality and colour much to the delight of our insects.

The effect of the green manure meant that we were not delayed in peak summer by weeding; the herbs wanted nothing else but to grow and flourish so all our energy could be put into harvesting and drying. And harvest we did! As I write we are on our 127th herb harvest, all being used in our tea blends, natural beauty products and medicinal remedies, tinctures, and glycerites.

This year has been one of the Hawthorn. Spring’s blossom was exceptionally beautiful and abundant. As we harvested blossom and leaf, a powerful remedy of the heart and circulation, I was reminded to take care and show myself some love over the coming busy months. Indeed, when the chamomile harvest came, it was a time to recall this. Labour intensive, fiddly and with so much to pick, I dreamt I could become a Hindu deity with a multiplicity of arms to get the job done speedily. Thankfully with a constant stream of helpful wwoofers and attendees on Anne McIntyre’s Herbal Medicine course, the pressure was lifted and the job became lighthearted; a reminder that herbs are a great way of slowing down and connecting with others.

Now we have captured the sun’s energy in the summer herbs, we are collecting all the nourishing and strengthening autumn herbs and berries. Just as we prepare the garden for winter, so too must we prepare our internal bodies for the darker light and change of season. With a mass of hips and berries we will be in good stead. Again, the Hawthorn has been a star. The plump haws dot the landscape and are a joy to pick. With all our political uncertainty and unsettling climate worries, this year’s landscape seems to be telling us through the Hawthorn to keep attuned to our heart and connect with others; with nature as our guide I find some hope in this. I have felt extremely fortunate to participate in this land’s abundance and I’m reminded that whatever we seek, nature can truly provide.

Fiona has been nurturing the herb garden and building enviable compost heaps at Trill Farm since March. A woman of many talents, she previously ran a successful organic veg box scheme on her native Guernsey, is an award-winning scyther and occasional spoon carver.