Monday 29 June 2015

Weleda Insight Day 2015 - Part 1

For the second year running I boarded the first train from London to Derby in order to attend one of the Weleda Insight Days. You may remember from reading about my visit last year how much I enjoyed the day, so when I was invited to return I jumped at the chance.

Yet again I have had to break this down into two posts; one on the garden tour and a second on the  afternoon talks and the soon to be released products.

My (slightly early) arrival was greeted with a warm welcome and an invite to potter around the small on-site garden. Once everyone had gathered, we were given a run down of the day. The day was designed for those whom had previously attended an Insight Day and we were intrigued to find out what the team had planned for us.

Following a quick introduction we were immediately whisked a couple of miles down the road to The Field; the 13 acre area of land on which Weleda grow many of the ingredients for their medicinal products. We were greeted by Head Gardener Margaret and, after some liberal squirts of Weleda's very effective Citronella Insect Repellant (I remember it's effectiveness from last year - and yet again I didn't get bitten once!), we set off for our first port of call; the beautiful herb garden.

Elegant Angelica Flowers - they looked magnificent!
Laid out in formal, densely stocked rows, the herb garden is packed full of plants and flowers which are used in many of the products that the company produce in their Derbyshire factory. Margaret talked us through a number of the plants grown in the herb garden such as Wild Strawberries, Hypericum (more commonly known as St Johns Wort) and Angelica.

The Weleda Gardens are farmed in accordance with Biodynamic methods and this means that natures rhythms, moon cycles and weather conditions are considered at every stage of a plants lifestyle; from the planting of the seed to the harvesting of the flower (or root). They are accredited with Demeter certification which means the produce has been grown to the highest organic and environmental standards using biodynamic techniques.

After a brief stop at The Pond, the tour proceeded through some familiar territory; past the avenue of silver birch trees and the composting area where the waste vegetation is rotted down with biodynamicly (and locally) produced manure over the course of a year to produce a rich, deep compost (is it possible to have compost envy?); past the beehives and into the beautiful wildflower meadows.

Red Clover and Chamomile
Following the mown path though the meadows rich with clovers, grasses, wild orchids and other wild flowers, we wound our way around to the small wood where three strains on fern grow in abundance alongside Poison Ivy and then out into the flower fields. Last years visit gave us a real I sigh into Calendula production so it was lovely to return - albeit to see the field looking significantly less bountiful thanks to the recent poor weather.

Wild Orchid
The morning tour closed with a fascinating Plant Study lead by ex-Head Gardener Michael Bates.

We walked in silence towards the plant we were going to be studying - Michael was very firm on the fact we had to be in silence; he wanted us to clear our minds and be open to our initial feeling and senses towards the plant - Camomile. 

Weleda use plant study as a tool; each product is formulated by looking closely at the lead plant and understanding it. The process (which can take many months or even years), follows the cycle of looking at the plant, feeling, describing and sketching it; learning from it by watching how it grows and how it metamorphosises; finding the essence and the being of plant-ness (not my words). This process is repeated until the plant can be regrown in the imagination.

Condensing such a process into twenty minutes is no mean feat but we did our best.

Chamomile Leaves
Starting from the root we removed each leaf from the main stem and laid them out in order on a sheet of paper (above). We noted the changes in the leaves as they went further up the plant; long leaves with many individual fronds give way to shorter, sparser ones as they reach the crown of the plant. Once central flower head is surrounded by many branching off from the main stem but all reaching an identical height...

I could go on as it was fascinating stuff however I feel I may just loose you, if I haven't already! Weleda do run a number of plant study days each year and this is definitely something I would love to do at a later date. 

After a brief Q&A, it was onto the minibus and back to HQ for lunch and the afternoon session... I think I have rambled on long enough for now so for that, you will just have to wait until the next instalment ;)
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You can read all about last years visit here and here.

To read more about this and the other Insight Days, look for the hashtag #weledainsightday on Twitter and Instagram.


  1. This is such a fabulous post I really like weleda products this was really interesting to read! Thanks for sharing.
    Eloise x|

    1. Aww thank you Eloise. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.
      L x