The secret learning in our own backyard

Courtesy of the lovely people at Google, I recently attended a super evening event at The Secret Herb Garden, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, at the foot of the Pentland Hills.  This herb nursery – which, in addition to growing and selling all varieties of herbs, also runs courses in painting, flower arranging and other crafts, and boasts a bee observatory – is the brainchild of owners Hamish and Liberty, who live on site with their four children and umpteen animals, and who have clearly embraced whole-heartedly the concept of lifelong learning from the world around us.

It was impossible not to be caught up in the enthusiasm bursting from Hamish as he guided us around the project, and although areas within it were beautifully arranged, he was equally enthusiastic about the herbs in the wilder sections, including dandelions, whose medicinal benefits he reeled off. A dandelion in full flower, held up in the sky, he explained, is like the sun to us, and as it turns to white seed, it becomes like the moon; within the dandelion is all day and all night – a complete salve and healer for us … and all of this, incredibly, lies within what we often dismiss as a ‘weed’.

Listening to Hamish, and watching my fellow attendees, I was reminded very strongly that there is so much to learn from nature, and that unless we deliberately curtail or neglect our natural – child-like – instincts to explore and discover, then our learning in this respect, as in every respect, will never cease. We live in an amazing world, some of whose magic we risk losing because we do not pay it enough attention, and some of whose magic we have yet to find. So … open your eyes as you go out today, breathe in the air, and see what wonders you can uncover. Learn from the world around you!


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