Category Archives: River of Herbs

Saturday Morning Herb Gardening

Many moons ago, I set up an urban gardening project in Amsterdam, called River of Herbs. It is to teach people how to grow and use edible and medicinal herbs, for free. Via River of Herbs I have been managing four quite large orchard gardens, in Park Frankendael, for the past years. Volunteers help to keep the place tidy but in harmony with nature. We garden there at different times and days, to do a little peaceful gardening as and when we have time. And the place is thriving, with beautiful herbs, fruit and wildlife, mingling with the occasional foragers who come to learn and harvest in this place.

Saturday Mornings
I am now trying to get a regular Saturday morning gardening session running at the River of Herbs orchards, weekly, from 9.30 – 11.00.

The location is directly behind Huize Frankendael (Middenweg 72, 1097 BS Amsterdam), four hedged orchards, on two sides of the formal Stijltuin.  The orchards are a beautiful green oasis, where you are welcome to spend time, feed your mind and body, whilst gently nourishing the environment. 

All welcome, no experience needed
No heavy gardening happens here, the work is generally tasks such as light pruning of bird cherry and rose bushes, and thinning out the edible and medicinal wild herbs such as Geranium, Cleavers, Nettle, Sweet woodruff etc.  Sometimes it’s Zen work such as removing little tree seedlings from a woodchip path, other times it’s clearing Cleavers which tend to choke the fruit shrubs, or removing baby Wild garlic plants from a path. The plants and animals lead but as gardeners, our task is to keep it looking tidy and accessible. The work we do is kind to the plants, animals and land, and they depend on the season. 

You can take home the cuttings/harvest to use for food and home remedies.  It’s organic and managed in a permaculture-food forest kind of a way.  Would you like to join to help with this? 

I can’t be there every Saturday morning but if we can build a small group of folks who can sometimes meet and help at that day and time, it becomes simple for everyone to know confidently what to do and how to do it, on the days I’m not there. 

Would you like to come along this Saturday morning? I’ve got some spare hand tools and gardening gloves to use. I advise you wear long trousers and sleeves, closed shoes, bring a drink and snack. But mostly bring an open heart, love of nature and desire to learn from the plants and creatures of the herbal orchards.

If you need directions or have questions, call or what’s app me on 0627596930. The website for the project is:


Herbal Orchards Gardening

The next organized gardening morning at the herb orchards, in Park Frankendael will be this coming Thursday 10th March (10.00 – 12.00).

Light gardening, tidying up, some pruning to be done, and fallen twigs. No experience necessary!

The intention is to spruce it all up a little and may be able to begin some light-harvesting for Herbalists Without Borders remedies. We need to leave the major tree work to the gemeente so will stay away from the area where the tall tree fell during the storm (nettle orchard).

Come join me if you would like to – bring gardening gloves (not essential but handy) and a pair of secateurs if you have them (again not essential) and maybe a mug and flask of warm drink. If you need more information, email me or send a what’s app (0627596930).

Images of autumn

I’ve been busy with all sorts since my last post. There’s a little competition at the end of this one for those able to get to Amsterdam who fancy trying for a free Herbology Walk in Amsterdam oost. Work (school) has been lively. We’re fully open and yet the rest of the world seems to be closing up. Interesting times for all!

Am loving helping new Urban Herbology students on my courses – some are working so quickly on the Crafting Course, it’s great to see their enthusiasm!

I’ve been enjoying many walks in Amsterdam’s green spaces and was honoured to speak to a group at the Vrienden van Vrankendael’s celebration in Huize Frankendael’s coach house recently, about my involvement and hopes for the park. The guests were invited by the Vrienden van Frankendael and I spoke about the River of Herbs gardens. The Friends of Frankendael also featured us in the first article of their special 30 year celebratory magazine. The article is called Het eetbare park – The edible park. I’m very grateful to have been interviewed by them and especially humble to be so welcomed in the park.

Bench in one of the River of Herbs Orchards

Increasing capacity for multifunctional, sustainable urban edible spaces and community gardens is so important. City parks and planners can help enormously with this. I love discussing options for these spaces, with people who can help it to happen on a bigger scale.

Yew – Taxus

Marisa, one of my apprentices, graduated from the full course, in the woods, during one of the Witching Season gatherings. She has worked really hard on the course and I’m sure that good green things will continue to come from it! Marisa runs a fabulous vegan skincare company called Primal Essence and I love her products. Finally, they are available in Amsterdam!

Primal Essence

I’m now enjoying offering walking & talking consultations in Amsterdam and look forward to supporting more clients with personalised herbalism, reflexology and yoga. Details are on the Consultations page.

I thought that you may like to see a few photos from the past month or so.

So what have you been finding? Personally, I’m most pleased with the delights of the Virginia creeper grapes and Chinese Hawthorn, this season. Also the invisible strength building qualities of Michaelmus daisy.

Most people are writing to me about mushrooms this autumn. I must expand my confident-to-forage-and feed-my-family-fungi repertoire! Those shown above are for their beauty alone. I did eat the Jelly ear this evening. The others remain on the woodland floor, logs and benches where they belong – invisibly connecting life and death. Perfect organisms for teaching us about Samhain.

If you can tell me via email where this is, you’ll win a private 45 minute Herbology Walk in Amsterdam oost this autumn or winter! First person wins. Mutually convenient date and time to be arranged with the winner.

Stoepkrijt tijd

For English click here

De laatste tijd hebben een paar vrienden en familie me een zetje gegeven over deze botanische stoepkrijt die momenteel in Europa gaande is.

Ann van City Plot gaf me gisteravond een zetje, wat de laatste strohalm heeft bewezen – het is duidelijk tijd dat we beginnen met meedoen! Wil iemand meedoen met ons?

Hier zijn een paar dingen die we vandaag in de stad hebben gekrijt …

Overblijvende ossentong (Pentaglottis sempervirens) Green Alkanet

Er gaat niets boven een naamplaatje om mensen te helpen beseffen wat er onder hun neus groeit terwijl ze door de straten lopen.

Smalle weegree (Plantago lanceolata) Ribwort

Veel van ons kennen de waarde van de planten die de meeste mensen onkruid noemen. We zijn gepassioneerd door mensen die beseffen wat er kan worden gedaan met planten die om hen heen groeien en zorgen voor de planten die van nature groeien in vergeten ruimtes.

Grote weegbree (Plantago major) Plantain

Meestal willen we niet van trottoirs oogsten of foerageren, maar die stedelijke kruiden en groenten kunnen een bron zijn van gratis zaad, stekjes, startplanten en leerplanten.

Lindenboom (Tilia sp.) Lime tree

Hier is een Grote stinkende gouwe die ik vorige week uit een stoeptegelscheur trok en nu op mijn dak groeit voor een huismiddeltje en een leerplant. Het gele sap binnenin heeft verschillende toepassingen.

Stinkende gouwe (Chelidonium majus) Greater celandine

Als je niet zeker bent van de naam van de plant, stuur me dan een duidelijke foto via Whatsapp of e-mail van en ik stuur je de plantnaam. 06 275 969 30

Ik zou ook graag je gelabelde planten zien en zal hier graag wat foto’s plaatsen, en op het Urban Herbology Facebook pagina.

Chalk and talk

Voor nederlands klik hier

Lately, a few friends and family have nudged me about this botanical street chalking that’s going on in Europe right now.

Ann from City Plot gave me a nudge last night which has proved the final straw –  it’s clearly time that we start to join in the fun!

Anyone in?

Here are a couple that we did today across town…

Green alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens)

Nothing like a name tag to help people realise what’s growing under their noses as they walk around the streets.

Smalle weegree (Plantago lanceolata) Ribwort

Many of us know the value of the plants which most people call weeds. We are passionate about people realising what can be done with plants growing around them and looking after the plants which naturally grow in forgotten spaces.

Grote weegree (Plantago major) Plantain

Mostly, we won’t want to harvest or forage from pavements but those urban herbs and veggies can be a source of free seed, cuttings, starter plants and teaching plants.

Lindenboom (Tilia sp.) Lime tree

Here’s a Greater celandine which I pulled from a pavement crack last week and now grows on my roof for a home remedy and teaching plant. The yellow sap inside has several uses.

Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) Stinkende gouw

It you’re not sure of the name of the plant, feel free to send me a clear photo by What’s app or email and I’ll send you the plant name. 06 275 969 30

I’d love to see your labelled plants too and will happily post some photos here, and on the Urban Herbology FaceBook page.

Herb Walk

I went for a walk and forage in the Orchards of Park Frankendael this morning and made some recordings for you. Next time, I will hold my phone the other way so that it records a wider frame but for now, I hope that you can at least enjoy some of the blossoms and bees!

So there we have it, about 30 minutes of my ramblings in the orchards. We saw quite a few plants today but there are hundreds more to find. Let me know what you would like to see next time!

Amsterdamian Interview

Lynn in gnome like position (Photo credit:

I met Dana Marin of several years ago through the River of Herbs project. She is a beautiful soul who loves herbs, crafting and gardening. She also loves Amsterdam and runs the website which you must visit!

Last summer Dana joined me in the Frankendael Orchards to catch up, take photos and forage. It was lovely, a lot of fun and included me falling of the bench in this photo, into the plants!!

Dana’s interview with me is now published on If you fancy some background about urban herbology, ethical urban foraging, city witch-iness and to know what’s driving me at the moment, hop on over to Dana’s beautiful website!

Green spirit

Gardening is good for you. Whether inside or out, spring, summer, autumn or winter, it is not difficult to see why. Being in contact with earth, plants, air and water feeds the soul, tones muscles, lifts spirits and aligns us acutely with the cycles of nature. As research about biophilia, horticultural therapy, woodland bathing and related topics mounts, I wanted to share a few thoughts about the importance of gardening in the city.

Some of my earliest memories are of gardens – growing lupins and marrows, following snail families, the smell of radishes, cut grass and just pulled potatoes, cress heads, apples, maggots and bee stings, blackberries, sweet blackberries, weeding, muddy nails, stone scratched skin, daisies and rose petal perfume. I think that I have been a gardener since birth. And I think that you have too.

People speak about gardeners having green fingers (or thumbs), about knowing what to do with plants, about experience, having a feel for it and so on. Experience amongst gardeners is most certainly wide ranging but I am sure that we all have green spirit within us and that spending time in nature helps it to grow. I love to see that spirit grow within those around me. It can manifest as a quiet self confidence, improved physical coordination, lightness of touch, imagination, appreciation of others, interest in life, a desire to learn more and a need to be to nature – often. When green spirit reaches the level needed, I see people literally blossom. It radiates from them, they appear bigger, bolder and more connected to nature. It then touches those around them and invariably causing the creation of more beautiful green places and a deeper respect for nature. Green spirit is a wonderful thing!

Bench crafted by Bobby van Vliet

Due to my somewhat selfish desire to fill the world with green spirit, I began a project in 2012 called River of Herbs. The aim was to help more people, plants and wildlife to flourish in the city. Over the years, I have run free courses for individuals, schools and groups, in the name of the project and I have trained and built up experience in Horticultural therapy. The aspect of the project which I have loved most is the herbal orchards of Park Frankendael. I adopted them from the city council in 2014; four fertile patches of land, occasionally mowed, care homes for old fruit trees, shady retreat for dog owners. They are behind the grand old Huize Frankendael. Beneath the trees were about 20 sorts of wild plants, some edible, some not, all ‘weeds’. The aim was to create a garden base for River of Herbs, to teach people about wild herbs – how to grow them and use them. From the start the orchards have been blessed by incredible volunteers. Some come and go. Some come, connect and stay for a long time.

All of the volunteers amaze me.  We have welcomed research students, chefs, job seekers, couch surfers, retired people, dog owners, cat lovers, busy people, tourists, translators, writers,  teachers,  herb people, psychic people, IT people, number people, tired-out people, life/law/loved – struggling people, new people, local people, energetic people, artists, actors,  jewelers, designers, whirlwind people, tranquil people, mature people, young people… so many people have volunteered and made their mark on the orchards. Together, we have laid paths, grown herbs and good friendships.

Japanese wineberry taste so good!
Japanese wineberry taste so good!

Lots more edible and medicinal herbs have been added to the orchard ‘borders’. Saffron, Sweet cicely, Japanese wineberry, Valerian, Motherwort and Sweet violets are probably my favourites.  We have planted cherry trees, made Elder cuttings, nurtured seedlings and re-homed poisonous plants. We have built benches, a willow hut, a barefoot path, stung our arms and legs on nettles more times than I like to remember and drunk a lot of herb tea.  We have worked together in the green, we have made a community garden and green spirit radiates from each of the volunteers. And how many of these volunteers arrived calling themselves a gardener?  None. Well actually one,  a wonderful chap who helped us to lay woodchip paths in 2014. But that’s not many is it?

Volunteers River of Herbs orchards July 2017
Volunteers River of Herbs orchards July 2017

The measure of a good gardener is not how well they clean their tools, how long their runner beans grow or how weed-free their flower borders are. To me, the measure of a good gardener is how far green spirit radiates from their being and strives to improve the world.


River of Herbs orchards are open to the public 24/7 all year round. 

We generally meet there every Wednesday morning, 10.30 – 12.00 unless the weather is stormy.

Address – Behind Huize Frankendael (Middenweg 72, 1098 BS Amsterdam).

Email – or