Several of my classmates went on an organized visit and herb tour of Kew Gardens recently. The gardens are spectacular and currently in full bloom, creating magnificent borders of colour, and filling the air with pungent smells to assault the senses.
Our guide and resident herbalist Jill Davies, the founder of “Herbs Hands Healing” is a herbalist and naturopath who is responsible for all products, nutritional and herbal sold from her company. What better person could you ask for to show us around Kew and give great insight into the plants and specifically the plants with healing powers that are so prevalent not only at Kew, but also in our countryside?
The dedicated herb garden used by the house keeper in the late 1700’s of Kew Palace, home to George III is spectacular, offering hundreds of different culinary and healing herbs from Mentha piperita (Peppermint), good for the gut and bowel. Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel), which enhances the appetite, aids digestion and absorption, and (Origanum majorana (Marjoram) which is used for indigestion whilst also releasing physical tension, anxiety and restlessness, to less well known herbs such as Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) for healing wounds, Inula helenium (Elecampane), a pre and post biotic with affinity for the lungs and Althea officinalis (Marshmallow) for soothing an inflamed gut. Sadly the marshmallow we buy in the sweet shop today is no longer anything to do with this lovely plant.
Kew also boasts some Gingko biloba trees. Gingko is a fascinating plant because it is the only tree to have survived Hiroshima! It is often planted in cities for its ability to survive in polluted environments and absorb excess carbon dioxide. In fact, London has many streets with Gingko trees, including outside the Natural History Museum. This herb is commonly known for its affinity to the brain and therefore for supporting overall brain health and improving memory. I think I would benefit greatly from taking this plant!
The other tree, in full bloom at the time we visited was Tilea europea (Lime flower), also known as the Linden tree. Flowers of the Tilea tree have many healing properties, including lowering blood pressure, calming the nervous system and soothing and relaxing the gut. Interestingly, Jill told us that the flowers, if they are taken when old become hallucinogenic, therefore better to avoid old Tilea flowers unless looking for a wild trip!
The day was full of impressions, information and knowledge. Many thanks to Jill for her enthusiasm, willingness to engage in conversation about the plants as well as her wealth of knowledge.