Holt Wood Herbs

Holt Wood is a transformative project designed to develop a sustainable source of medicinal and other non-timber products. Based in North Devon, we purchased the site in 2004 when it was stocked with Sitka Spruce aged 35 to 40 years. Replanted with permaculture design principles, ongoing management of the medicinal trees and shrubs is based around techniques such as sustainable coppicing and pollarding to provide supplies for medicinal use and other benefits such as body care products. Our aim is to learn and spread the word to encourage more sustainable UK production of medicinal trees and shrubs.


We seek to reduce air miles in the supply of medicinal trees and shrubs and show alternatives to threatened species. Holt Wood has a range of native and introduced planting of medicinal trees and shrubs. Some trees and shrubs native to Northern America are grown to provide sustainable supplies, such as Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium) and Virginian Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), and this helps to reduce pollution arising from transport between continents. Other trees and shrubs are being grown as alternatives to those which may be endangered by wild harvesting, for example Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) is native to the UK and is a sustainable alternative to Black Haw (Viburnum prunifolium), and there re UK native buckthorn alternative species to Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana) on the UPS 'Watch' list.


At Holt Wood Herbs, we offer educational visits, talks and one day courses to encourage others to learn more about the medicinal tree and shrub project, from identifying medicinal plants to designing a medicinal forest garden and harvesting medicinal plants sustainably. Our forest garden is part of the Permaculture Association LAND network providing demonstrations of permaculture in use in the UK.


We have regular open sessions at Holt Wood Herbs, to which local people are invited, and we have volunteer helpers. We also offer tailored visits to particular groups, such as garden clubs, herbal student groups, permaculture groups and others. We offer occasional harvest days when herbal practitioners can come and share in the bounty of the medicinal forest garden.
How does your garden support traditional knowledge? Our aim is to develop and encourage sustainable ways of cultivating harvesting medicinal trees and shrubs. We support the Medicinal Forest Garden Trust through sales of body care products with ingredients from our forest garden. Through the Trust we provide online and direct information about traditional and modern uses of medicinal trees and shrubs.