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  • Jennifer Jewell

WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH: THE QUEEN OF HERBS, JEKKA MCVICAR


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.
 

 

 Happy Women’s History Month!


To kick Women’s History Month off on Cultivating Place, this week we visit with the woman known as the Queen of Herbs, Jekka McVicar of Jekka’s Herb Farm in the UK.


Her long and notable career has brought the gardened world the best the herbs of the world have to offer to our gardens, to our environments, to our kitchens, and to our souls.


In recognition of her herbal research, plant breeding, garden designing, and advocacy around the many merits of all manner of herbs to the garden world these past 40 years, Jekka has been awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour in Horticulture by the Royal Horticultural Society and the Gardeners Media Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as 62 RHS Gold Medals. 


At Jekka’s Herb Farm and Herbetum in South Gloucestershire, she displays her life’s collection of more than 600 culinary, medicinal, pollinator supporting, and beautiful herbs. I was honored to profile Jekka in my 2020 book, The Earth In Her Hands, 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants, as one of the women leaders in our horticultural world who have expanded and elevated the way we think and talk about gardening. 


My conversation with Jekka went longer than our on-air time frame, so for the full conversation in which we speak more about her handful of favorite herbs and the many herbs she has bred and introduced to the trade, make sure to listen to the week’s podcast version of the program.


Jekka’s newest book, 100 Herbs to Grow A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Culinary and Medicinal Herbs publishes from Quadrille Press in march of 2024.


Savor!


All images courtesy of Jekka McVicar, all rights reserved. 


JOIN US again next week, when we head to Grand Rapids Michigan to learn more about the history and mission of the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, in conversation with Steve LaWarre, Vice President of Horticulture. That’s next week, right here, listen in.


 

Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from



supporting initiatives that empower women and help preserve the planet through the intersection of environmental advocacy, social justice, and creativity.

Thanks to a generous matching grant from the Catto Shaw Foundation for 2024, all of your donations to Cultivating Place go directly toward helping us meet that match! All contributions help – go to the support button at the top of every page at Cultivating Place.com to chip in. Thank you in advance for supporting this program you love to grow with.



 


 

Thinking out loud this week....


Jekka may be the Queen of Herbs, but surely herbs (in all their range and variety) are the royalty of the plant domain – their magic, their medicine, their magnetism pulling in and also supporting all manner of life above and below ground. My very first little square of dirt allotted to me by my mother I designed and planted a little herb garden at 8,000 on the front range of Colorado. I can’t now recall if my mother steered me that way, or if I came up with the idea through some other inspiration? I do know that sage, mint, and thyme (all hardy in zone 4 high elevation Colorado were featured in my childhood designs)

 

When we think about it - We offer herbs to delivering mothers, to their delivered newborns, at weddings and funerals and most of life’s other notable corporeal thresholds. We drink and smudge, steam and seed forward in relationship with herbs thousands of years in the intertwining and inter-rooting. It’s amazing when you think of it – isn’t it?


As I write on 2.27, I am getting over my first ever round of covid – I know, it took me long enough huh? In my recovery I offering the virus and my immune system herbs by way of sipping on a steaming cup of herbs from my emerging from winter garden: a stem each of thyme, rosemary, and oregano. A fresh tip of early growth mint and one kumquat from the tree which grows by my front door and which my sisters gave me as a housewarming present 10 years ago now – finish off my remedy tea. Bright green and fragrant in the cup they almost make covid feel festive – almost.

 

In this late winter, early spring time of year – with the vernal equinox in sight now - What are your go-to comfort and medicine herbs for your mind, body, and heart? Do they hearken back to your family, your place, your own culture? I’d love to hear and share your stories thoughts – send me an email or leave a comment on this week’s post over at Instagram.


We can share the fragrance and fortitude of these plants we love to live with.





 

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The CP team includes producer and engineer Matt Fidler, with weekly tech and web support from Angel Huracha, and this summer we're joined by communications intern Sheila Stern. We’re based on the traditional and present homelands of the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of the Chico Rancheria. Original theme music is by Ma Muse, accompanied by Joe Craven and Sam Bevan.


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