The Healing Garden
Dates : n/a (mon - fri)
Location: Elphin near Ullapool
Course Places : n/a
Price : n/a
As the years go by and our garden matures, I find an increasing bounty amongst its trees and plants; not just in terms of inspiration for visual images and creative writing, but as the means for living life well. Most weeks, my friend Jan Breckenridge comes up from Ullapool to spend a day with me, experimenting with papermaking from plants and using natural dyes and printing techniques for textiles. She is a qualified medical herbalist and so, as we gather leaves, flowers, berries and roots for processing into fibre-based art, she shares her knowledge of the half-forgotten healing properties of the many common and wild plants found in and around my semi-wild garden. I am regularly amazed at the wide range of remedies that are to hand, if only we knew how to prepare them for use.
And so, it seemed a natural step to invite Jan (yes, we are 'The Two Jans'!) to join me in running a course that would share this knowledge more widely. In the course of five days, We two Jans will pool our skills to offer you a range of activities that will lead you towards a closer relationship with some common healing plants, learning both the facts and the myths surrounding them and making them into useful herbal preparations such as tinctures, ointments and oils. The highlight of each day will, no doubt, be making our herbal tea of the day, when we will then sit back and appreciate nature at its most refreshing.
Whilst our lotions and potions are processing and maturing, we will take the opportunity to make some of the plants into paper and to make images of the plants through monoprinting and sun printing. By the end of the week, you will have a satisfying collection of recipes, images and hand-made paper. Jan Breckenridge is a fine book-binder, so she will share those skills to make sure that you go home with a beautifully-bound herbal recipe book, along with some herbal remedies made by your own fair hands.
Please click on an image to see the full picture
Jan's studio is in Elphin, overlooking the magnificent mountains of Suilven, Canisp, Cul Mor and Cul Beag. This remote location means that accommodation is a little more difficult to find, but the experience of visiting this area makes the search well worthwhile. Many course participants opt to stay in Ullapool, which is 20 minutes drive away. It is a most picturesque fishing village, with a good range of accommodation to suit all budgets. There are many restaurants and takeaways and shops, as well as some evening entertainment, should you have any energy left at the end of that day's workshop. And students often group together and car share for their daily trip up the road, past Stac Pollaidh, to the studio. Please look at the Accommodation links page to find out more.
To read about an innovative community partnership approach to preserving and improving this landscape for the benefit of all, have a look at Coigach and Assynt Living Landscapes. To find out about the fascinating geology of this area go to North West Highland Geopark.