Jekka McVicar reinvents herb farm
17 September 2012
Organic herb grower Jekka McVicar is ending plant sales at her nationally-renowned herb nursery near Bristol and converting it into a display garden and school where gardeners can learn how to identify and care for a wide range of herbs.
In the 25 years since it opened, Jekka's Herb Farm has won more than 60 gold medals at RHS shows, including 14 at Chelsea and the RHS Lawrence Medal, as well as supplying plants to some of the best Chelsea show gardens of recent years. However Jekka had already begun scaling down operations: she staged her last exhibit in the Floral Marquee at Chelsea in 2010, and the nursery stopped selling plants by mail order last year. Now, from the end of September, she will no longer sell plants at the farm itself either, although an online shop will still sell herb seed and other herb-related products.
Instead, Jekka, an RHS Council member, plans to create a 'herboretum' – a series of raised beds displaying the 650-plus different herb species she has collected over the years in what she hopes will become a valuable resource for plant identification.
'I'm hugely excited by seeing plants growing to their full size in raised beds – it'll look fantastic,' she says. 'Over the last three decades I've built a huge collection of different rosemaries, thymes and oreganos - it's very rare to see them all together.'
Alongside the garden she plans to run workshops and classes for schoolchildren and gardeners to learn about identifying, propagating and growing herbs.
'I don't have family to hand this on to and running a nursery is a seven-day week,' she says. 'I realised I needed to pass on the skills I've got sooner rather than later.'
As a result of its reincarnation, from spring 2013 the herb farm will be open to the public more regularly than before, as Jekka plans to open the herboretum on a set day each week.