Exploring the National Herb Centre
Photos by Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography
Ann Evans explores the delightful National Herb Centre in Oxfordshire
The culinary and medicinal use of herbs has been with us forever. Herbs come in all shapes and forms and have multiple uses. Not just as flavourings in food and drinks but in medicines, cosmetics, soaps, aromatherapy oils, cleaning products, insect repellents – and countless other uses.
They come as annual, biannual and perennial herbaceous plants, as shrubs, trees, climbers and succulents. You’ll find them grown for massive industrial purposes or just as decorative little plants in pots on windowsills. Herbs can be used and enjoyed by everyone.
If you’re into gardening, cooking or simply nature, then a visit to the National Herb Centre will be a delight to your senses and a wonderful day out. This is more than just a garden centre, here you’ll discover all types of culinary and medicinal herbs along with heirloom herbs, fruit trees and shrubs and so much more.
The National Herb Centre was established 21 years ago by Peter Turner, a former Chairman of the British Herb Trade Association, the aim being to give people an opportunity to enjoy herbs and learn more about them. At the time nobody was doing any research work to develop the industry, and so Peter Turner took it upon himself to build the centre and undertake such investigations.
Over the years a wide range of successful projects and studies have been carried out which you can read about on the herb centre’s website. In recent years, due to drastic cuts in funding, research work is no longer undertaken at the centre. However, the National Herb Centre has developed in other ways with its lovely Garden Centre, Bistro and Coffee Shop – which are run by Peter’s sons, and the community of visitors who enjoy everything it has to offer.
From the centre, you can look out over the magnificent rural landscape and see three counties – Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire. You can enjoy a lovely country walk – there’s three routes you can take along the nature trail ranging from 25 minutes to about an hour. You’ll meander amongst fields of herbs, woodland and nearby ponds and possibly see all kinds of wildlife. This is the natural habitat of wild birds such as buzzards and partridge, and the home of bats, foxes, rabbits, badgers and deer – you might even see a white stag.
Within the centre you’ll find six specially designed herb gardens which demonstrate how to make the most out of the herbs you grow at home. You’ll find ideas for encouraging wildlife, growing edible herbs and even a garden inspired by the Roman use of herbs.
There’s a play area for the little ones, and quiet tranquil spots to simply sit, relax and enjoy the views and the scents from the surrounding shrubs and plants. If you’re hungry the licensed Bistro and Coffee Shop serves breakfast, lunches and afternoon teas as well as children’s lunch boxes. And when the sun is shining, relax and enjoy some refreshments out in the patio garden – you can even take your dog.
There’s always lots going on at the Herb Centre with workshops and events. Quite recently they had a fun dog show, and if you’ve always wanted to learn more about foraging, then book your place at the Foraging Course for Adults which takes place Saturday 21st September, 10am – 2pm. Details on their website and Facebook page.
The National Herb Centre also has an on-line shop, so if you’re looking for something specific they welcome your call or email: 01295 690999, firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more: https://herbcentre.co.uk/