Christina Stapley has grown more than 300 herbs, for over 45 years. Her third of an acre teaching garden in Hampshire was featured on television on numerous occasions, most recently she had appeared on Autumnwatch and the Antiques Road Trip, and was popular with visiting groups inspired by her talks.
Her talks are on varying aspects of herb use, both historical and modern. The pandemic has resulted in these being moved online including the popular Herbs to Aid the Gardener, Compassionate and Protective Herbs and Medicinal Trees in Garden and Hedgerow. The range of subjects is wide: cultivation, cookery, spices and exotic plants, fragrances, herbal medicine, herbs in history, folklore and crafts.
Requests for bespoke talks are welcomed.
Workshops from her home in Hampshire led to her three books on growing and using herbs which were written in response to the frequent question from attendees, “I can’t remember all this. Will you write it down?”
Shortly after the publication of Herbwise Naturally in 1993 Dr. Peter Reynolds asked Christina to think about how the Celts would have used herbs in the Iron Age and to take historical workshops at nearby Butser Ancient Farm. A deep interest in history had been behind her initial interest in herbs for writing a historical novel and she took up the challenge of research and practical experiment with recipes willingly.
Roman days and craft sessions followed and about this time Christina decided to take a degree in herbal medicine, becoming a qualified practitioner in 2004.
In 2000 a series of workshops explored use of herbs over the past millennium at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum and new workshops have taken place there ever since. Many other venues have hosted workshops over the years, including Plimoth Plantation Museum near Boston, Massachusetts.
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Editing The Receipt Book of Anne Blencowe for the Blencowe family involved making selected cookery recipes. Adapting them for today produced delicious and elegant results. Her mission however, has long been to find effective lost medicinal herb uses and recipes suitable for today. In 2010 Christina tutored a postgraduate course, Stillroom to Dispensary for NIMH in Reading. Christina currently chairs the Herbal History Research Network which promotes quality in historical research through seminars and study days and links researchers through Jiscmail.
Her herbal practice has encouraged a growing enthusiasm for work in preventive medicine through herbs, diet and lifestyle. This has led to writing both Interactive and Essentials courses on Ageing Successfully, available by email. Now retired as a practitioner, she currently teaches the History of Western Herbal Medicine, Pharmacognosy and Materia Medica for the School of Herbal Medicine.
Christina has written three books on growing and using herbs, Herbwise Naturally, Herbcraft Naturally and Herb Sufficient. Each work is supremely practical with many recipes and background information. Her children’s book The Lemonade Tree for ages 2-6 years is about the animals and birds in the herb garden. Her latest books on trees in herbal medicine have added experience abroad to a life in herbs.