The wonders of Conwy Seed Fair – A herbalist’s perspective

Transcribed from my notebook scribblings, 26th March 2019 

Sitting in the afternoon sun, watching the hustle and bustle of a street fair being dismantled. Today was Conwy Seed Fair, and it dates back over 700 years.

Conwy Square - Seed fair 2019

Just a fraction of the stalls at this year’s seed fair, in Conwy town square

We arrived in the mid morning sunshine, pleased to see Conwy high street full of people buying plants and seeds (and other things too!). Some years it has felt like there has been a dearth of stalls actually selling seeds. Not so this time, and I was glad to find wildflower seeds and unusual shrubs on offer.

Hand collected wildflower seeds

Hand Collected Wildflower Seeds

I bought a fist-full of seed packets at a very reasonable price: Angelica, Goats Rue, Oxeye Daisy, Wild Carrot,

Mullein, Honesty, and a personal favourite and bit of a ‘bad lad’ herb; Monk’s Hood (Aconite).

I also got a growing plant of Wild Carrot, which I intend to spend this year ‘connecting with’ and getting to know – it’s a plant I don’t really have a relationship with yet, though I do use the essential oil. That doesn’t mean I have it growing in my garden or know it well enough to always identify it – certainly in the flowering phase. I usually look for the birds-nest seed heads…

Jurassic Plants Leaflet

Leaflet of the amazing Jurassic plants… Visit them at https://jurassicplants.co.uk/

A stall called ‘Jurassic Plants’ was there with a whole range of interesting shrubs/trees. I couldn’t help but buy a Zanthoxylum piperitum (Asiatic prickly Ash – I have the Z. americanum already, and it is not about 9′ tall!), and Juglans nigra – American black Walnut which is much used in herbal medicine but again, not a plant I have a relationship with at the moment. The stall is run by a Doctor of Plant Sciences, Zoltan, who is very enthusiastic and a font of knowledge. I really must give them a plug; visit  https://jurassicplants.co.uk/ to look up their catalogue of good quality and reasonably priced – but above all else, fascinating plants!

It is indeed pleasing that I have supported and been part of a long-held tradition; people have been coming together at the start of the growing season to sell and swap plants since man learned horticulture. And they will continue to do so long after I’m buried in my own soil with an apple tree on my head! Pleasing too is that these seeds and plants will be most useful to me.

It was deeply lovely to see people I know, and bump into acquaintances and talk plants and bees with them!

Sitting with a pint of Conwy beer, I feel at peace with the world. At Peace with myself, and my place in a long continuum of those who come here, like me, to buy seed for the year’s provenance, and meet with friends and colleagues before a long hard season ahead.

I wonder how things will be, and how much I’ll have changed and grown (personally and horticulturally!) by next fair, September’s Honey Fair!

Categories: Out and About

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