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Highland HERBS

Gaby Bartai pays a visit to the UK’s most northerly herb nursery


Poyntzfield House, for which the garden was originally built
Duncan Ross, 40 years a herb grower

Head north out of Inverness, over the bridge across the Moray Firth, and you come to the Black Isle. You’re already 150 miles north of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and as you cross the firth, you are leaving the last of built-up Scotland behind you.The Black Isle is not in fact an island; it’s a low-lying peninsula of farmland and woodland, surrounded on three sides by water. On its northern coast is Poyntzfield, home of biodynamic herb grower Duncan Ross for the past 40 years.

Duncan studied horticulture at a Fife college in the 1970s, and while the course itself was in conventional horticulture, the college library provided alternative reading in the form of literature and newsletters from HDRA (now Garden Organic).The organic movement was gaining momentum, and Duncan found like minds among his fellow students, one of whom was the son of the owner of a biodynamic market garden near Edinburgh. Once he’d finished his course, Duncan became an apprentice there. This was his first introduction to biodynamics – “I thought I was just going to an organic market garden” – but he has gardened biodynamically ever since.

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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

This month - Keep fresh, harvest and storage tips plus grow grapes and soya beans. Wow factor - Try globe artichokes and cardoons. Feeling drained? Share the highs (and lows!) of gutter gardening. Herbal treats - make a handy herb box and visit a grower's paradise. Fun with fungi - a beginners guide. Plus pruning for fruit, cash savers, feed your soil the organic way and fantastic exclusive videos in our custon iPad edition.