St Werburghs Medicine Garden
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As the main core of the apothecary allotment/medicine garden was education and community involvement, I started with a design questionnaire with three of the people behind the garden that took place in October 2012. Present was Becs and Anwen, the two medical herbalists that run the Rhizome Community Herbal Clinic and Nic, a CSA grower who shared an allotment with Becs and was keen to be involved.
Read the notes from the design questionnaire here:
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I also completed a site survey and drew a base map.
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The second part of my survey process involved asking Becs to provide a list of plants she would like to potentially grow on the allotment, which she did below:
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My analysis process involved:
- Processing Bec’s list of herbs for the allotment. This involved a process of elimination through a mixture of my own medicinal horticulture knowledge and some referring to reference material. I also returned to the design of my own medicine garden at Brook End, where I had done a lot of original research when deciding the planting scheme.
- I also started a Herbs Needs & Yields document to help me identify which plants would be most useful for harvesting that could be grown in higher quantity than those that are less used and are useful as a teaching plant for identification. This document also aided me when looking at the soil needs of plants I was not familiar with.
- Having identified which plants could actually grow in the UK, and potentially the allotment, I also had to analyse the site in general and its limiting factors. These are integrated into the concept plan in the green boxes.
Through processing the information above I then completed a Concept Design which I sent to the group for feedback. This involved:
- Grouping the plants into recommended beds
- Identifying plants that don’t fit into these beds and where I would recommend placing them
- Sending a list of other recommendations based on next steps e.g. soil care.
I created the word document that you can see the below to communicate this information.
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I waited for feedback on these suggestions however it was very clear that people were expecting a drawing and so I designed the below for the group to help better communicate the potential placement for the plants and other elements in the garden.
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Surprisingly there were no tweaks suggested and with consensus and support for the design the above became the final design. I ‘polished’ it to make it more attractive in communicating some of the design thinking around the garden, which is detailed in the green boxes.
See the final design here:
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After undertaking the design for the group I decided to make a difficult decision in that I would prefer to step back from the practical implementation, on the basis of my time investment in Bristol that was becoming a key energy drainer in my life and I knew for my self care and for the development of Brook End, that I would decide to invest time and love into my home site and save the 2 hour journey to Bristol that I was doing regularly, which was unsustainable for my self and projects.
However I have continued to propagate plants for the allotment, coppiced hazel for the beds and do wish to participate in some work days in the coming months.
To see progress of the medicine garden, you can visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stwerburghsmedicinegarden
I have also supported the promotion of the garden at a workshop at Bristol Anarchist Bookfair in April 2013.