Win a copy of The Edible Ecosystem Solution this week in the Forest Garden forum!

Anne Stobart

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since Feb 15, 2019
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forest garden trees medical herbs
Anne Stobart is an experienced consultant medical herbalist, herb grower and researcher in the UK. She is co-founder of Holt Wood Herbs, a project transforming a redundant conifer plantation into a medicinal forest garden. Anne has led a professional programme for training clinical herbal practitioners at Middlesex University in London, UK. She is an author with Bloomsbury Academic, and her doctoral research was published as 'Household Medicine in Seventeenth-Century England' (2013).
Devon, UK
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Recent posts by Anne Stobart

My favourite tea mix this year has been equal quantities of Nettle and Rose petal, tasty and great for arthritic joints as it is anti-inflammatory and diuretic, and a good base for adding further herbs. Both nettle leaf and rose petals can be challenging to dry well though! It is important not to leave nettle standing around as it deteriorates fast. Pick fresh young leaves and dry in single layers in an airy place. Similarly, spread the fresh rose petals out well. Our drier is a construction of plastic baker’s trays (with perforated bases) and I place a puppy warmer mat underneath to provide a gentle current of air. It works well, producing aromatic dried plant material of good colour within 7-10 days. If we had more sun in UK I would make an  effort to use solar power but our humidity in the South West is often well over 60% so cannot afford to let herbs moulder. Our rose variety of choice is Gertrude Jekyll - it does well in light shade and will climb up through smaller trees /bushes and has superb fragrance, is repeat flowering.
1 month ago
Thanks everyone, I really appreciate such positive feedback on the Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook, and if you think of any publications/places that could do with a review then do get in touch. I am just now working on a new website for the Medicinal Forest Garden Trust which aims to support education and research in sustainable harvest of medicinal trees and shrubs. On the website we will include a short online video course linked to the book. I will post an update when it is all set up in the autumn, just getting to grips with video-editing skills!! Best wishes, Anne
4 months ago
There is perhaps information elsewhere on this site about the Agroforestry Research Trust in UK, and int he last year or so they have offered an online course. More details at Online forest garden course, run by Martin Crawford who has masses of experience with forest gardening. Cheers, Anne
4 months ago
Hello Mick and Marcia, glad to hear of your projects getting going. The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook is based largely on experience as a UK herbalist and from developing Holt Wood in Devon, UK. But since Western herbalists use a number of North American herbs as well as European ones I have included both in the book! Lots of US trees and shrubs do well in UK and vice versa. There are also quite a few Asian plants of considerable medicinal interest such as forsythia, ginkgo and magnolia, included. An oddity here in UK that these are available for ornamental use in garden centres, rarely do we see the original species available. It is really down to what sort of environment you have as to which medicinal plants will do well. I think it is great if you can offer a variety of situations for plants as this extends the variety possible, especially trees. For example we have willow and cramp bark loving our moist meadow area, hawthorn lime and birch do well in most spaces with light, ginkgo is happy on a slope, witch hazel fits great along a woodland ride edge, and so on. Our experience has been that the forest garden is incredibly productive, so size is not necessarily an issue, perhaps the main thing is to be able to harvest and preserve plant material for year round use. The book is available from Permanent Publications in UK and Chelsea Green in USA as well as main booksellers, very best wishes, Anne
6 months ago

In the excitement last week I forgot to mention this YouTube interview with Maddy Harland of Permanent Publications in case you are interested in how Holt Wood Herbs, UK medicinal tree project, came about. Cheers Anne
7 months ago
Yikes, be careful with broom! Common broom (Cytisus scoparius) is a diuretic and can have significant effects on the heart. It was used in the past for treating dropsy, a fluid accumulation due to a failing heart. The level of active consituents is variable and dosage can be uncertain so it is best only used in conjunction with a herbal clinical practitioner. One of the reasons we are growing broom in addition to medicinal use is because of the pea family ability to provide nitrogen. BUT please note that Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) is even stronger and potentially toxic, so is NOT advised at all for medicinal use.

Alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus) bark is an effective laxative (not connected to alder), though should not be used fresh. This is a lovely European native small tree of great attraction for insect and wild life including the beautiful yellow Brimstone butterfly. Both broom and alder buckthorn are profiled in The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook if you want to see more on their effects and use.
7 months ago
Congratulations to the winners and my thanks to everyone for asking questions and sharing experience! Finally, a last picture of young leafy twigs of Virginian witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) that I will be distilling later today, makes a wonderfully aromatic skin toner and first aid for inflamed skin.
7 months ago
I have been making lists this week for replies to medicinal forest garden queries. Here is the list of the medicinal plant bonanza, over 50 healing plants that we harvested from Holt Wood and our cottage garden in UK in the last 12 months, organised for convenience in layers, some for our own use and some go into body care products for sale, the growing needs and uses of many are mentioned in The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook
Ground cover layer: agrimony, chamomile, ground ivy, ladies mantle, lemon balm, marigold, mint, thyme, yarrow
Herby layer: angelica, comfrey, feverfew, lavender, marshmallow, meadowsweet, nettle, purple coneflower, St John’s wort, valerian, vervain
Shrubs: blackcurrant, broom, forsythia, prickly ash, raspberry, rose, rosemary, sage, myrtle
Small trees: alder buckthorn, crampbark, elder, fig, juniper, sweet bay, witch hazel, magnolia
Overstory: birch, Douglas fir, eucalyptus, ginkgo, hawthorn, lime, mulberry, pine, sweet gum, wild cherry, white and violet willow
In betweeners: hops, mistletoe, passionflower, turkey tail fungus, sphagnum moss
7 months ago
Jen, you are part of the audience that I was hoping for in The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook - that is people who want to know more about healing plants, like trying new ones, willing to invesitgate, but also have lots of medicinal possibilities already in place without necessarily realising it! So, for you and all the other brilliant suggestions in this thread, here is not so much a starter list but my (temperate) desert island forest garden top five plants for being used for a variety of health issues (though there are so many more to choose from in the book!):

Marigold (Calendula officinalis) for flowers to use in an antiseptic and antifungal skin balm - must have sun and be picked regularly
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) for roots to dry and make into pills for anxiety and sleeplessness - likes damp shady places
Elder (Sambucus nigra) for flowers and fruit for syrup to use in colds and flu - prefers open setting and easily coppiced (pictured)
Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) for bark to powder or tincture and use in spasmodic complaints from frozen shoulder to painful periods - loves a moist situation
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) for flowers, leaves, berries for tea or tincture to lower blood pressure and strengthen heart - grows almost anywhere (NOT for use alongside prescribed medication for hypertension)
7 months ago
Hi, I think you have proved the point here that taste is very variable! Neither burdock or mint will taste especially bitter for some people - compare with willow bark or feverfew leaf which are truly obnoxious for me and have to be taken in capsules or with food if to be practical. Yet again, I have come across people who do not take to mint as a tea, and some who think bitters are wonderful-tasting. However, the point about a bitter is that it does taste bitter in order to stimulate the taste buds. Or, perhaps your body is saying yes to the diuretic action and no to the other stuff for good reason. I guess you may have to experiment further!
7 months ago