Preserving Medicinal Heritage: Seed Conservation with St. Anne’s Physic Garden

Preserving Medicinal Heritage: Seed Conservation with St. Anne’s Physic Garden

The St. Anne’s Physic Garden is a joint initiative between the Irish Register of Herbalists (IRH) and Dublin City Council Parks Department. The garden was created to showcase traditional medicinal herbs and allow the public access to these wonderful healing plants. The aim of IRH is to facilitate further education for the public on herbal medicines sharing the history, lore and use of plants as medicine in Ireland. Their physic garden is a collection of medicinal herbs used for cooking, medicine, and dyeing, to name a few. It is planted in the formal style of Italian sunken gardens as used in traditional monastic settings. The garden’s location is within the old walled garden of the St Anne’s Estate, in Clontarf East, Dublin, and is open to the public and for educational purposes. The garden itself is enclosed in Yew hedging, some recent, some over 150 years old. 

Seeding Self Sufficiency

The day began with an in-depth introduction to seed conservation principles, followed by discussions centred around the group’s specific challenges. Their garden faced disruptions in seed supply chains, prompting the need to secure seeds from their medicinal herbs for the planting season next year, both by conserving their own seed and by investing in native-origin seed from us. Through learning proper storage techniques during the training, they’ve gained the capability to safeguard the garden’s plant populations effectively. This approach ensures a steady source of seeds for their future plantings, enhancing the garden’s self-sufficiency and resilience.

Informative Insights

The garden’s volunteers are dedicated to recording plant data to monitor year-to-year growth patterns. This practice is aimed at providing meaningful insights to the gardener. By tracking conditions beneficial for different plants and noting how seasonal changes impact plant sizes, shapes, and flowering, they aim to make informed decisions about cultivation and care. This data-driven approach helps the gardener adapt strategies based on observed trends, fostering a more resilient and thriving garden.

Learning in Action

With their newly acquired knowledge in hand, the group transitioned to the field for hands-on seed harvesting. Led by Debbie’s expertise, they learned to identify mature seeds and honed their harvesting techniques while carefully recording pertinent data. The group was fully engaged in the process, displaying a focused commitment. Once everyone was actively involved in seeking out ripe seeds, a sense of calm permeated the harvesting activity. Throughout the day, their enthusiasm was evident as they embraced the learning experience and delved into the world of seed conservation.

Power of Collaboration

The collaboration with St. Anne’s Physic Garden team is an exciting one for the medicinal herbs across Ireland. As we branch out and make connections with gardeners and seed producers we can become more sustainable, sufficient and eco-friendly. Our collective dedication to nature conservation and nurturing our botanical heritage brought everyone together with a shared purpose. Participants were amazed by the intricate web of connections between seeds, plants, and ecosystems, realizing the significant role seeds play in maintaining biodiversity. With correct seed conservation practices, both seeds and plant species can be studied and enjoyed. To all those who share a love for nature and a passion for conservation, let’s continue to unite and nurture our botanical treasures. Together, we can safeguard our planet’s biodiversity and uphold the traditional practices that have sustained us for generations.

Stay tuned for more exciting news and join the movement to conserve our native wildflowers for generations to come! Together, we can make a real difference.

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