Weleda Arnica UK – July Harvest
For over thirty years, Weleda UK has been supplied by Scottish arnica grower, to be made into homeopathic and natural remedies, salves and balm. Driving it to our door Duncan Ross – still the only commercial grower of biodynamic herbs in the UK. Every July, Duncan or one of his sons has make the ten-hour drive with a freshly harvested crop of arnica, an event in the Weleda Ilkeston calendar – both a celebration and the start of some very hard work.
Arnica is not a fussy plant, but the conditions it needs are not easy to come by in Britain. It’s an alpine, preferring poor, well-drained soil and cool temperatures, thriving on frost and snow in winter. In Europe, it grows high up, but in Scotland, it’s found a natural home on croft land in the Black Isle, beside the Moray Firth, just north of Inverness. It’s planted on land which slopes gently sunwards, with a view to the Cairngorm Mountains under their winter blanket of snow.
The UK arnica story starts with Duncan’s commitment to biodynamic growing, which he’s cultivated over 40 years at his own nursery, Poyntzfield Herb Garden. In a 19th century walled garden reclaimed from dereliction, Duncan has made a life’s work following Rudolph Steiner’s ambition of healing the earth with biodynamic methods of cultivation. He’s fascinated by all aspects of biodynamics, working with formative forces in a creative way, and seeing how biodynamic preparations stimulate greater activity in the farm or garden.
The quality of his harvest proves that his philosophy works, but it’s also proof of very hard work by his team. The day before we see our crop, he and four other gardeners are up early to walk to the croft and begin a hard day’s digging. They’re faced with a sea of yellow, daisy-like flowers, held high on slender, downy stems. Each plant is carefully lifted, roots and all, because the whole plant (planta tota) is called for in homeopathic remedies.
The roots are carefully washed and any discoloured or broken leaves removed, to leave what Duncan describes as ‘lovely clean plants’ which are carefully placed upright in boxes, their roots in cool water. The tanks are placed into a long wheelbase van and the doors closed, so the whole crop is kept cool and moist for the journey.
After the long day in the field, all the gardeners are grateful for arnica. “Weleda occasionally generously donates a bottle of massage balm,” admits Duncan. “It really is effective for gardener’s back and we use it after a hard day picking the flowers”. Arnica has been used as a traditional remedy for thousands of years for shock aches pains and sports injuries.
For Arnica range please see;-https://www.weleda-advisor.co.uk/shop/hannahcharles/