The Secret Herb Garden is one of Edinburgh’s hidden treasures, one that I have been unaware of since its doors opened in May 2014. Last weekend a friend picked me up in her
Hotwheels Smart Car for my introduction to this nirvana. It was more ‘off the beaten track’ than I’d anticipated, a turn off the Edinburgh City Bypass at Hillend and a five minute drive meandering through winding country roads until you suddenly come upon its welcome sign. If you’re looking for some tranquility away from the car horns and white noise of the city then this is an easily reached haven.
When we parked up and my feet first made contact with the gravel drive, I felt instantly at home. Growing up in what most native city dwellers would class as ‘the wilderness’ I never feel more at home than I do when I can hear nothing but the tweeting of birds, the buzzing of horny bees and smell of freshly cut grass. I loaded up on anti histamines (God thought it was hilarious making a country bumpkin allergic to grass pollen; good one God) and we strolled through the entrance which is decorated by an outdoor seating area (part of their café). You couldn’t find a more hipster ensemble of garden furniture, slightly rusted and worn in all the right places and beyond it an enormous selection of herbs lined up and ready for a new home.
The selection of herbs is as mind blowing as herbs can get. For example, I had no idea there was a ‘curry’ herb and when you rub its thin pointed leaves your fingers smell like a freshly cooked curry. I always thought there were only a few types of mint, well blow me, was I wrong? Yes, I was. I rubbed the leaves of ‘Pineapple Mint’, ‘Strawberry Mint’, ‘Chocolate Mint’ to name a few. All of those mint plants smell just like their name and even now it baffles me how these exist with such distinct flavours!
This is a Mojito lovers paradise!
I ended up leaving with a beautiful ‘Moroccan Spearmint’ and a sorry looking £1 bargain ‘French Lavender’ that just needs some TLC. I’ve had them for a week and the mint is getting bigger already and I can’t help have a quick rub of its leaves to waken my sense of smell first thing in the morning. A fresh mint tea will be coming later on today as Sunday treat. The Lavender still looks a bit haggard but I’m confident that with time she’ll turn into a butterfly.
Once you’ve stepped past the end of the Herb lineup you come to a hipster paradise shed with ‘School’ on the front. This is where I imagine they host the numerous courses that run throughout the year. You can find the courses here. Next to this is a gorgeous greenhouse with its considered furnishings and a tranquil path encased in greenery from floor to ceiling. There are couches and chairs in the heart of the greenhouse which we didn’t take advantage of but if you wanted to completely escape this would be the perfect place. There’s plenty open space around the central structures, including the herb growing area itself, some very healthy and happy looking chickens and a bee keeping sanctuary.
The Secret Herb Garden is the place to go if you want to escape the city and not have to drive for hours. Living in the city but loving gardening and the therapy it offers can be difficult to deal with, but herbs can be grown inside and out. This is the perfect place to visit and reconnect with your green fingered self. Even if you’re not bothered about caring for plants, it’s a great day out and dare I say ‘romantic’ spot to wander around and fill your lungs with fresh clean country air. They also have a café which serves some incredible looking cakes and my mouth is filling with saliva just thinking back to them!