A Selection of Previous Talks and Workshops

04 March 2020
Spice Medicine by Varsha Soneji
Varsha talked about using spices as medicine and how we can incorporate them into our food. Many had health boosting properties, something particularly important at the moment.

Energy Medicine by Lucy Blunden
Join us in discovering the herbs which keep us alert and ready for our fast-paced lives whilst knowing when to step back and rest. Lucy is a medical herbalist in Hemel Hempstead who loves rooting out the causes of poor health and gives you tools to help yourself back to balance. Lucy will share an energy routine, harnessing the body’s own energy, to transform each day.

The Rose – Wilderness to Wonder by Anne Luder
Anne will take us on a journey around the ancient rose world from the age of the dinosaur to about 2,000 years ago to discover the surprising history of the “English Rose”. Anne is a retired lecturer in therapeutic horticulture for people with severe physical disabilities. She worked at Capel Manor College for over eighteen years, developing the provision of horticulture therapy there. Anne also works as a garden designer, designing both public and private gardens.

Oxymel Workshop was led by by medical herbalist Sophia Forrester. One of the most beautiful things about herbs is their ability to be used in such a wide variety of ways.  Oxymels, from the Latin oxymeli meaning “acid and honey”, are an herbal extraction made using apple cider vinegar and honey. The vinegar provides a base for the product and the plants materials are soaked in the vinegar which can pull out the medicinal components. The finished product is mixed with honey. Water can also be added to the vinegar if the final product is too tart to be palatable.

corn dolliesIn November we heard about The History and Folklore of Corn Dollies By Jane Woolman, who  explained the significance of corn dollies in past times; the symbolism in their varied designs, and their connection through folklore with the success of the harvest and wellbeing of the community.

Wayside Herbs of early Summer
 by Medical Herbalist Lucy Blunden.
Lucy allowed us to touch, sniff, taste and sense your way into common wayside herbs such as black horehound and mugwort.

Herbal Healers in Shakespeare’s Plays by Christine Cheek and Louise Lotz. Christine and Louise are going to talk about healing plants and people
within Shakespeare’s plays. They will explore the detailed knowledge of plants that he frequently shows and consider the influences of plant medicine and other medical practices of that time.

Workshop: Blending your Own Medicinal Herbal Teas by Frances Watkins


We are delighted to welcome back Medical Herbalist Frances Watkins to show us how to use a combination of several herbal teas to help reduce stress, enhance mood and improve sleep. We will taste a number of individual herbal teas so that you will be able to mix and create your own herbal delight.

Traditional Festive Fare by Linda Dobbs
We were delighted to welcome Linda to talk to us about traditional Christmas foods such as mincemeat, breads, and the uses of herbs and spices in festive cookery. Linda is the Museums Manager for the Welwyn Hatfield Museum Service and runs their modern and historic Food Courses at Mill Green Museum.

Aromatherapy Botany of Floral Essential Oils by Louise Lotz and Frances Prestidge.
Why do plants have lovely floral scents? We all carry out a practical dissection of a flower.  People brought along magnifying glasses, a craft knife a chopping board coloured pencils. We had 10 people dissecting flowers and it was a very successful and informative evening. As well as the standard lily, we dissected some lovely evening primrose from Christine’s garden, as well as fuchsia from and various other flowers that were in season.

Culpeper and His Herbal by Julie Wakefield
Culpeper’s Herbal is the best known of all the herbals but most people do
not realise how unusual it was compared to other herbals of the day. This
talk looked at how he intended herbalism to be used which included astrology and even a form of magic. Julie began specialising in herbalism at the Museum of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. As a staff member at the Old Operating Theatre she delivers talks on past uses of plants both in the Herb Garret and Southwark Cathedral’s herb garden. She is an active member of the Historic Herbalism Research Network and a university guest lecturer.

Making Herb Infused Oils and Vinegars by Frances Watkins
A workshop for everyone to make herbal infused oils and vinegars to take home including St John’s wort, lemon balm, nettles and rosemary.

Wild Flowers of the Chilterns  by Dr Brenda Harold
Brenda showed us the varying flora of these beautiful hills with their beech woods and chalk downs. There are many special plants growing on the Chilterns including orchids. Brenda, has a PhD in plant cytogenetics, is a Chartered Biologist and a retired university lecturer. She has tutored numerous adult courses for the Wildlife Trust, Open University and other organisations. She also volunteers as a Wildlife Site Surveyor for Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust.

The Four Species  – Plants of Valour and Value by Anne Luder
Anne will look at Willow, Citron, Myrtle and Palm. She will explain why these plants were so important to the people of those times as well as their garden usage.

Herbs and Witchcraft ~ the Facts behind the Fiction by Julie Wakefield
Men and women in the 1600s held commonly acknowledged beliefs about the plants that witches used and how they used them. However set against myths around witchcraft,  people were using plants in reality to protect themselves from witchcraft or treat sickness caused by a bewitching. It are these fascinating practices that will be the focus of this talk.