“Not knowing as a place of ease”

With Isla Burgess, Viriditas Herbal Resources and Publishing.

I am reminding myself of this daily as my ‘safe havenising’ continues; for me this is week four. There is chaos, complexity and entropy manifesting globally.

I am making the most of the extra time I find I have, to gather, prepare, preserve, pickle and freeze both plants for medicine as well as food. The garden here, (for those who have read my regular blogs in the past and have continued as my life got busier and blog writing irregular), is now incredibly productive. I see the idea of what I wanted to co-create starting to evolve. There are more than 150 medicinal plants growing here now, planted, native and newly naturalised. Fruit and nut trees, and a myriad of food plants are now well established. Just in time I feel for this extraordinary challenge ahead.

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The ‘Traditions, Art and Science of Herbal Medicine’ courses I offer here at ‘Viriditas’ and the retreat in March, do have as a focus knowing what plants grow around us, knowing what healing they offer and how best to access that healing. This the plants offer, for the exchange of mutual respect and due consideration to their long-term survival. That is I think, how the land here, in the wilds of Central Otago attracts so many course participants.

During my time here I have written ‘The Biophilic Garden. Connecting People, Plants and Inscape’ and last year ‘A Women’s Health and Wellbeing Kete A DIY Guide’. The latter with Mary Allen, Herbalist, Photographer and great Editor. They are both available from my website. Books

I have been thinking about how to be more pro-active in this time when we are shielding ourselves from an invisible kind of life form that needs living cells to survive.


This year’s peppers

I have written the following for anyone who might just find it useful. It is available using the following link;

Staying Well in a Changing World

Isla Burgess, Viriditas Centre for Herbal Resources and Viriditas Publishing.

Stay well.

A Changing World

April 10th 2020

Some thoughts on today’s world.

Viruses such as Covid – 19  don’t just mysteriously materialise from nothing – human’s have a hand in its emergence somewhere along the line.

Whatever we think about cause does in some way depend on our ‘world view’.

Is it that the endangered Pangolin illegally trafficked carried the virus?

Is it that the virus escaped from the research facility near the market in Wuhan?

Is it one country’s plan to destroy others economic power (or other conspiratorial theories)?

Is it that the warming of the climate triggered an epigenetic change in similar viruses?

Is it that ‘Gaia’ has simply had enough of the damage human’s have inflicted on her wellbeing?

Whatever the trigger, this time of having our freedom curtailed in some way, our way of life changed, does give us time to reflect, hopefully on how we contribute to the wellbeing of the whole of the Natural World.

Knowing the plants that grow around us, how to sustainably gather those plants, how to best prepare them has never been more important. That weedy patch in your back yards likely contains more nourishment that any vegetable you buy from the supermarket.

The enormous range of nutrients and other phytochemicals  in the following ‘pesto’ is a reminder of just how easy this can be;

Autumn Herb and Wild Weed Pesto

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe secret here is to only have 1-2 leaves of stronger tasting plants and more of others.

Yesterday I picked a few leaves of Dandelion, Rocket, Baby Silver beet, Puha, Parsley, French sorrel, Chickweed, Basil, Chives, Garlic chives, Beetroot leaves, Kale leaves, Nasturtium leaves, Mint leaves, young Celery stalk and a few Calendula flowers;

2-3 leaves of Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Yarrow, Wild Mallow, Fennel, Evening Primrose leaves, young Horseradish leaf.

These are chopped and added to a blender with ½ cup of lightly toasted Sunflower seeds or Sesame seeds and 2-3 cloves of Garlic. I add 1/4c vinegar to ¾ olive oil and blend until smooth. My neighbour’s young children loved it as do all course participants that visit here.

It is hard to believe how such a mix could taste so good, as well as being totally nourishing. Eat with cheese, on salads, as a dip with carrots or crackers, with fritters or fish. Used as a spread in place of butter or avocado.

Stay well, the impact on the planet of this reduction in movement around the world, reduction in the use of Earth’s resources, might just allow us to survive as a species.


Thought for today

How can we be well if we cause suffering to other life forms?”

New Book and Tasmania visit



A Women’s Health and Wellbeing Kete

I am excited to launch this new book with Mary Allan as both Editor and Designer/Photographer. Mary has aded beauty and grace to the writing, it has been a pleasure to work with her 

This book is for
– The gardeners, plant lovers and plant medicine makers
– Those who offer plant focused teachings and workshops and those who attend them
– For those who wish to enhance their own health and that of their families
– For Women at all ages and stages
A knowledge basket is by its nature an offering for all
Publication date:
We should have it before Christmas, it is currently with the Printers.
Available from me at
Cost approx. $25.00 plus P&P
Also available from my website

Also announcing a ‘Plant Immersion, Incubation and Inspiration’ Workshop in

Tasmania in February 22nd and 23rd. 2020

Held at Pindari Farm, Longford, Tasmania!

This two-day plant directed workshop is about relationship

the relationships the plants that grow around us have with us and we have with them. It is also about both our relationship with the planet. We set the scene so we can be a participant in those relationships and not just an observer.

Whether you are a gardener, plant lover, grower, herbal medicine practitioner or student. If you are interested in how to live in a wholistic relationship with the world around you. All say they are inspired and experience something they have not previously experienced?

It is Practical, Participatory, Transformational and Experiential!!

Cost #345.00 (includes onsite accommodation)

For further information or enquiries, contact Jayne on 0455379595 or

email: or via Community Apothecary FB page


Viriditas Blogs  can now be found on this site and what better time to begin something new than Matariki, the New Year in the Maori yearly cycle. I like this celebration , it coincides with the longest night, that time when the sun reaches its most Northern shores and begins to move southwards. This is a human centric  perspective of course.

A_Rosemary_StalkAlthough June has been very cold here in Central Otago, NZ, the Rosemary is still thriving and about to flower under the grape arbor. The Marjoram and Thyme are fine and the the Sage out in the open, is just OK . I gather these this week to dry and make the anti-oxidant powder that goes into just about every dish or soup I make.  I have just discovered a log covered in these Turkey Tail fungi – their medicine will be a topic for another post….


I am also gathering together a ‘knowledge basket’ for Women.  A practical DIY guide for Health and Wellbeing.  Mary Allan, a past Editor of ‘Avena’ (The Journal of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists) is applying her creative expertise on the design and layout. More on that as it evolves.

A further new development is to establish here at ‘Viriditas’ a New Zealand Centre for Phenomenological Plant Research  (NZPPR), the approach ahead will be designed when Roland Playle visits to offer a further two workshops in March.

I have listed all the Course offerings for 2019 and 2020 under ‘Viriditas Courses’ found on the website. Stay warm.

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