Winter or Spring and the Women’s Garden

This week in Central Otago, NZ,  it was both. Beautiful vistas yet the blossoms that persisted through the cold days are also beautiful. I admired their fragility and stamina.

What I am drawn to though are the equally persistent tiny flowers of the winter medicinal plants; the Miner’s Lettuce, the Chickweed, the Rocket, the annual Nettle and the Fumitory.

This week, the Dandelions in the tunnel house are in full flower as is the land Cress in the courtyard, the next generation Burdock seedlings are emerging, the Horseradish and perennial Nettles growing daily. I have never had Rosemary’s both upright and prostrate, flower like they are this early spring. Many perennial species are also appearing – Golden Rod, Arnica, Yarrow – I see the greater Celandine is about to flower.


What excites me to get down to the garden each day is the ‘Women’s Garden’.  The early Pulsatilla (Pasque flower) is in full flower, Black Cohosh as I mentioned in the last post is looking robust, Peonies are budding, the Blood root is just emerging with its intricate enfolding of the young leaves as if to protect each other. A somewhat phallic shaped flower bud appears – apologies for it being blurred.


Violets find the winter harsh but start to grow again now. Autumn, a course participant from last year placed a beautiful ‘circle of women’ clay figurine here before she left. I remember well her and the group in that garden on their last day.


This is not only a garden of medicinal plants that have an affinity for women’s health (there is Vitex, Lavender, Ceonothus and Uva ursi as well as the plants included above) but also includes plants that remind me of (or have been given to me by) women in my life (Lily of the Valley – my mother, Cistus – my Aunty Eileen, Autumn Crocuses – given by my sister Elaine, flag irises – my friends Karen and Leonie, the Baptisia and Monkshood from Linda’s garden. I think of you all when I am with those flowers. It is this day that I am writing, that we celebrate the anniversary of women getting the vote in NZ, the first in the world, to celebrate that with a Women’s Garden seems appropriate somehow.

This is not a directly medicinal connection but a friend and colleague Kate, gave me a Phaleonopsis orchid several years ago, today it flowers for the fourth time  and gives me so much pleasure.

I am not particularly keen on the gifting of cut flowers. It cuts off their life, halts them in their way of being in the world, but the gifting of growing live plants – that is a different story.

That is the Women’s garden, for healing, for remembering and most of all for each plant’s astonishing beauty.

Look to the second volume of ‘A Treasure Chest….’ Free now on

I still have two spaces available for the 6 month, one weekend a month course that begins in mid October. The Retreat is full but people are expressing interest for 2020. Plant Immersion Two is also full and there are a couple of places left for anyone interested in participating in ROLAND PLAYLE’s workshop on ‘Collaborative Process in Clinical Practice’.

Please contact me if interested.








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