Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Final

5th July 2011

I have long anticipated and feared this day; in practical terms for the volume of work that needed to be finished, assembled and presented, but more poignantly for it signalling the end of the course. 

Catherine Conway-Payne
Tuesdays have become a sacred day; one in which I happily rose from deep slumber and bounded out the door with great sense of excitement. The joy of learning, the glowing faces of friends, the slow, yet fulsome pace of the day followed by a happy exhaustion tinged sense of wonder at what we had learned in those few short hours. Thank you, Catherine!

But finals first:

Table dressing
We tumbled into the classroom with great boxes and backpacks of work containing our herbal journals, herbarium specimens, bottles and jars of potions, flowers, tablecloths and sweets. 

The cakes came out first; a beautiful ginger-carrot cake from Ally, a lemon-thyme cake from me, pain de raisin patisseries magically appeared and then Christa pulled a tub of Lavender & Honey Ice Cream with Chocolate Mint Leaves from her sleeve. Wow! Well we were ready to die and go to heaven when Mattie arrived with a basket of wild alpine strawberries and Margaret cracked open a bottle of her wedding champagne.  This is how finals are done in Herbology!

David Pirie inspecting Ally's Herb Garden
David Pirie arrived and after tasting the ‘herbals’ accompanying us up to our nursery beds to give us his view of our work.  His knowledge is extensive and all of us learnt more of the potency, preparation and possibilities of our herbal beds than we thought we knew.

RBGE Canteen
A 'last supper 'in the canteen set us up for the afternoon’s assessment.

 I went first (D again) and delighted in showing off my seaweeds (they were still intact!). 

Margaret's Physic Garden Design
Margaret followed with an amazing arrangement of beautiful soaps, creams, tonics and (Gold Star Winner!) Sea Buckthorn Gin – so we all had a taste of that.

Christa's floriferous display
Christa was next with her teas, bees and flowers – a brilliant array of bright books; her herbal journal and pharmacopeia filled with pictures of flowers and fairies. Her herbarium specimens looked as if they were dancing too.

Ally's home crafts
Ally bowled us over with her amazing handiwork in embroidery, sewing and book making.  Her journal was a rich cornucopia of drawings, notes, photos and images of her year in and beyond Herbology.  Her pharmacopoeia a fantastic exposition of ‘how to’ make the remedies we had studied all year. – a best-seller for sure.

Amy put down her camera and tucked into the assessments with a little blast of her elegant Viola Sleepy Syrup – a joyous colour of spring and intoxicating taste.  She’s got the smarts and will be re-taking a large part of the course next year… are we all envious or what?!

Assessing Sophie's tinctures
Sophie finished the round with a bright calendula display around all her written work, her award winning ‘Ode to Spring’ soap and a live presentation of her blog.  Her research and understanding of the technical, scientific, nutritional and therapeutic properties of the plants we have studied is phenomenal – I will learn as much again reading through that.

Herbologists' group assessment
And finally, we tidied and made great plans to meet up, and as the party drew to a close we cracked one more bottle open, this time the Botanist Gin, tossed Spring Blast ice cubes into it and topped with sparkling tonic. 

A farewell drink to our happy hours in Herbology….

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