Culpepers Complete Herbal – The real Complete Herbal!

A recent addition to the library is the Culpeper Complete Herbal. Wordsworth Reference Library published 1995

There seems to be more versions of Culpeper herbals than hairs on my arm. I initially when offered the book said that I had it. On looking closer there is the all the parts normally cut out of general editions.

It Includes the catalogue of simples  and the family dispensary with notes on the degree of heat and cold each remedy exhibits. Plus his original epistle at the start and a forward to his wife Alice, Plus Galen’s key to the physic and a curious section called Culpepers last legacies.  Fully half of the book is in these parts.

A quote about my favourite herb Solomon’s Seal

Of Solomon’s Seal. Stamped and boiled in wine it speedily helps (being drank) all broken bones, and is of incredible virtue that way; as also being stamped and applied to the place, it soon heals all wounds, and quickly takes away all the black and blue marks of blows, being bruised and applied to the place, and for these, I am persuaded there is not a better medicine under the sun.

Go to my review of Culpeper HERE


CAUTION -Website Revamp ahead!

Folks – Letting you know I am in the process of revamping this web-site and focusing the  types of matters I write about in my newsletters.

Somethings will disappear – the focus of the site will change and not be so broad. The new focus of this site will be the wonder of plants especially medicinal plants. My newsletters will focus on the following –

Tinderry Mountain herbs – Medicinal plants and matters of interest in general about Natural Medicine.

Sunday herbalist – Articles for clients with a simple clear focus on health awareness and actions to take

The Natural Physician – The Flagship newsletter of the Hierophant one of Australia’s leading dispensaries for Herbs and Homeopathic medicine. Strong focus on case histories, the matrix system of Kim Dudley and materia medica ( remedy talk in depth).

Keep reading and sending in suggestions for articles.


Christopher Smith


The lost Gardens of Heligan – Cornwall UK

A Magnificent Garden not just re-discovered and  restored – but actually brought back to life

Recently I borrowed from the Queanbeyan library the book – Lost Gardens of Heligan by Tim Smit.1999 Victor Gollancz.As you know I am originally and still am a horticulturist so books and stories like this get the green blood stirring.

This is the story of one of the great gardens of Cornwall England how it lapsed into deep slumber and ruin post WWI then to be resurrected decades later in 1990.
Originally it was the country estate garden held in the Tremayne family for many generations. The family had the finances to support the staff needed to run this enterprise and it produced most of their food.

The Author Tim Smit who inspired, managed and drove much of the work when asked what was the driving force for the incredible energy and commitment he had for the garden surprisingly replied Redemption.
In reading the book you can see he means redemption of the garden, the past horticultural knowledge, the plants growing there, the local community and of the people involved at all level’s present day and past. I highly recommend the book to read – own – borrow – Heart-warming stories of the work and workers involved, its resurrection and plenty of photos to show the magnitude of the task before them.

Especially moving are the individual workers their roles and personal stories of how the garden gave them challenges and achievements that changed their life.
The garden basically went asleep after the First World War due to the massive loss of life among the enlisted men and the changed economic circumstances for the country. WWI near bankrupted the country despite victory. There was not the staff or the finances to keep the estate at its former levels. In a way this was a blessing as the garden was preserved under layers of subsequent overgrowth, seedling trees, brambles etc until rediscovered.

Other such gardens had suffered successive redesigns and clearing until none of the original design and structure existed at all. Whole areas of the garden were left to rot and molder as resources could not maintain them anymore. The early regeneration works at the garden sound almost like an archaeological excavation.

In its original state there were specific glasshouses for growing melons – peaches – grapes – and pineapples. Large areas of garden were specifically designed for vegetables and flowers. The restoration brought all of this back – the plant varieties the cultivation techniques and the structures. The great difference at Heligan from other period gardens is that the production techniques of the garden were reinstated and kept alive.

Currently it has a staff of 50 people which gives you an indication of how large this garden is. Curiously Tim Smit remarks that the staffing structure now is very close to that of the original estate.

I want to share with you some quotes from Tim Smit at the end of the book where he explains the value of the garden to us.

“An issue that confronts all who work with Heritage of any kind is that once a period becomes history, its visible remains become little more than monuments, leaving us the inheritors to interpret them from the perspective of our time”

“Heligan treasures the physical remains of its past but lays a heavy emphasis on exploring old working methods and approaches to Horticulture to discover where they can make a contribution to improving modern practices”

“In simple terms Heligan wants to protect that which is good about the past, its crops and methods of husbandry that have truly stood the test of time, and thus should have a role to play in the future.”

Linking this back to Herbal Medicine the phrase above could easily relate to the written record of past Herbalists and Homeopaths. Finding a great work from yesteryear be it 10 or 20 or 30 or 100+ years past, reading these works and appreciating their experience. Not all that is modern is comprehensive or encompassing of the totality of knowledge. Herbal Medicine being an ancient profession especially treasures past practitioners and the foundations they laid for us.

Anyway find the book or have a look on YouTube with the many garden videos there to get sense of the magnitude and splendor of the place.

Can you feel the power of this garden which in a book from the other side of the world inspires and lifts up our days!

Continue reading

Matthew Woods favourite herbs A photographic presentation

Matthew Wood is coming to town (Canberra) in April 2018 – OK you know that
This has spurred me into action to create a special product for the event. I’m a bit slow to get going so this project has a 10 year wind up behind it.

Using my photographic record I am creating a series of Power point slides each one focussing on a specific herb.  For April 2018 this will be volume 1 consisting of 10+ plants, many of them Matthew Wood favourites!

  • Heaps of quality detailed photos to show the herb in all its glory
  • All its parts roots shoots leaves flowers
  • Usage in herbal practice
  • Botany of the herb and its plant family
  • Quirky aspects of the plants
See the Amazing Herbal picture tab above for a sneak preview of one slide !!!!!!!

Bear in mind this is the low resolution version due to software limitations.

This will be for sale in April – you can register your interest by contacting me via email


Apothocary Action

To anyone who likes making herbal potions and preparations her yea! hear yea!

Limited places are available for people interested in learning how to make different herbal products. Two workshops per month, see the activity tab in the menu bar for further details.

Tinctures, jellies, herbal honey, salves and infused oils.

Take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to make a range of different herbal preparations.

Advance bookings are needed to secure your place and support the activity going ahead.

EMAIL me to book now []

Pictures from google images  with usage rights



Michael Moore Herbalist

In the book review section I have added more details and links about this great herbalist. Even though he was based in South Western USA, for herbalists he is one of the standard references. I invite you to head over to this section and spend some time viewing and reading about him. Go to Michael Moore

His books are spiced with his wry humour, scientific details, botanical descriptions and intricate plant – human physiology interaction. In the last few weeks  I have obsessed over this section of the site and added in a lot of material and commentary – hope you enjoy!

Botanical Desecration

I don’t use the word desecration often but this piece of news warrants it.

Firstly If I may, I need to fill you in on some background and context for it to make sense for you. OK.

Herbariums all round the world hold collections of pressed dried plants as a source of information about our plant diversity. This allows new species to be correctly identified,  classifications of plants to be reviewed and much other important research.

Apart from the scientific value they also have heritage value.  Consider the plants Captain Cook collected on his voyages, the plant specimens Richard Evans Schulte’s collected in South America as part of the worlds collective botanical heritage.

Generally, species are described by taxonomists based on a type specimen and the details published in a scientifically recognised publication. The published scientific name and the official description which defines the characteristics of the species are then permanently associated with this type specimen. ( Thanks to the WA Museum website for this description).

So in order to support research and scientific collaboration Herbariums around the world swap specimens and lend material to other herbariums. This had been standard practice for hundreds of years. Nothing new here. This work goes on in the background quietly without much fuss.

Enter stage right the spectre of bureaucracy in Australia with the Department of customs and import.
In an article by Erik Stokstad on News May 11 2017 the dreadful story was outlined of valuable herbarium specimens being incinerated and destroyed due to thoughtless adherence to rules and procedures.

Early 2017 – Specimens collected by a French expedition 1791-1793 held by the French National Museum of Natural History were destroyed by biosecurity officers. Reason paper work was incomplete, a reply email to clarify from the Queensland Herbarium went astray, the declaration paperwork said low value so after 30 days into the incinerator. This included six type specimens!

But that’s not all
October 2016 Sydney Botanical specimens from New Zealand including a type specimen were destroyed. No reason has been reported.

There are investigations and half hearted qualified responses from customs but the material is gone forever.

What appals me is the lack of intelligent intervention when something goes awry or not as expected. Notice I did not say the word wrong. You can see in the incident the mentality of a right wrong punishment attitude and mentality.

  • Paper was not filled out correctly – wrong
  • Value on the customs declaration was low value for such an item – wrong
  • Thirty days had elapsed, no response – wrong.

Resulting from that is punishment – incineration destruction.

So otherwise intelligent educated human beings when placed in a bureaucratic system abrogate, relinquish, abandon any ability to resolve issues. They seemingly cannot observe, inquire, stop, think, take time to resolve an out of the ordinary matter. To exercise an individual act of leadership. What we see is people following process in a narrow bandwidth of possibility. Don’t colour outside the lines.

Here is a parcel sent between official government departments with sender and receiver details and associated paperwork, so no phone call ? to check it out?

A bureaucratic action in the worse sense of that word.  It reeks of judgement, right and wrong, absolutism, no allowance for vagaries and variance of life that needs intelligent interaction to handle.

The website  The Conversation  has an article on herbariums which has embedded the link to this story. Search for herbarium on the site and up it will come.

The header picture is from Wikipedia permission allowed for non commercial reproduction. It shows a page from an Arabic Herbal.


Susun Weed in Canberrra


This November the Hierophant hosted a one day workshop with Susun Weed.

This is part of Susan’s tour of Australia speaking in various areas. Susun talked for six hours with no notes or prompts and shared her knowledge and practice of Wise Woman herbal infusions.

This is based on using herbal infusions from a range of medicine – food herbs as a regular part of your daily health regime. The plant range was dandelion, red clover, oat straw, burdock, chickweed and nettle. Yes almost common weeds but containing potent medicine power in a safe way.

Simple home based herbal medicine, capable of being carried out in any kitchen. This is herbal medicine as a tonic, restorative, prevention practice, exactly the place where herbs really shine.

Susan’s books and CD were for sale as well and apart from the herbal infusions  practice her knowledge and experience in the area of Woman’s heath is first class.

Susun is based in USA so to have a chance to hear learn and talk with her is a real treat. Look up her you tube videos they are good.

Plantain Power


Plantain as a herb poultice

Used as a fresh herb poultice this herb really shines. A plant we have walked over and near most of our lives. N fact one of its names is white mans footsteps. Until I used this plant as a fresh poultice its medicinal power was largely unknown to me.

When herbals talk of this plant and its ability to draw out matter or as a first aid herb usually the vital ingredient is left out.

What is this vital point ? That the herb works best when poulticed fresh.  Used as a spit poultice its easy to make and apply.  I have used it to remove  a fibreglass splinter. Having moved fibreglass  bathtubs without gloves this was bound to happen.

The next day feeding the geese I thought why not try a plantain poultice? – the herb was there right in from of me at the gate so chewing up some lives with plenty of saliva I placed the mash onto my affected finger. I then held it on and went about the morning chores. Near the pool I felt a sharp pain in this area and lo and behold one splinter removed.  Very impressive.

Next occasion was a bottom wisdom tooth. We all have wisdom tooth stories! Occasionally it becomes troublesome and the gums swell and become rather sore. I suffered for a few days then again I thought the plantain poultice. I created a sludgy ball of herb into the back area of my mouth and went about my business. It was in place for about an hour then I got sick of it an spat it out. There was noticeable relief that day and then the next day much better and the next again. One application for under an hour. Pretty good value.

Lomatium update


Well once again the seasons have passed around and just as I was wondering if the Lomatium had survived it has actually grown two leaves.

Having been at the one leaf stage for a couple of years this is progress – in a Lomatium time scale. This plant do  not rush or hurry.

I had potted it up in winter as the soil level was low and needed replenishing, all the time wondering if it was dead.

So tips on growing this plant – easy to germinate from seed – prick out all seedlings and clearly label the pots. expect the seedling to go dormant is there if a change in heat or soil moisture.

DO NOT CHUCK OUT THE EMPTY POTS ( a mistake that I made)

This plant has seasonal dormancy that comes and goes at irregular times not linked to our normal autumn. Soil mixture should be free draining with some compost added.

Celebrate and appreciate each time it come to life again !