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herbs herbetum Gillingham
The herbs in the green space next to King Edmund Court.

Local residents are being invited to help themselves – within reason – to herbs as part of a new council initiative in Gillingham.

The Town Council has set up a micro herbetum – a collection of herbs – in the green space at King Edmund Court off Cemetery Road to allow people to go and take a few leaves for their cooking.

And if this pilot scheme is a success it could lead to more such help-yourself mini herb gardens around the town.

‘Herbs have a variety of culinary and medicinal uses, so feel free to take a few leaves and try for yourself,’ said deputy town clerk Clare Ratcliffe.

‘All the herbs have been sourced locally so you may like to plant a micro herbetum in a pot at home. As a “Pollinator-Friendly Town”, we tried our best to include herbs that provide a food source for butterflies, bees and other insects.

‘Some herbs will be hardy enough to survive the winter such as rosemary and lavender. Annual herbs, such as parsley and basil, will be planted in the summer.’

The council’s project was inspired by the work of Jekka McVicar, vice-president of the RHS Council and well-known for her services to horticulture, design and education. The herbs used for the pilot project at King Edmund Court are: catmint, chives, lavender, lemon balm, French marjoram, creeping thyme, rosemary, cowslip, primrose, garden mint, wild garlic, sage and fennel.

Councillor Val Pothecary welcomed the initiative for the ‘town herbal garden’. She told the full council meeting on Monday: ‘I think this is a super good news story, that we are welcoming people to come along and take a few herbs.  It’s just such a caring things to do.’

* The online meeting last Monday also heard that Gillingham is to receive a civic award for its community work during the Covid lockdown. Mayor Barry Von Clemens said that this followed a recent visit by the county’s High Sheriff George Streatfeild. ‘The High Sheriff himself was extremely impressed with the town and has said that he would like to award Gillingham his High Sheriff’s award. We are working out a date when we can receive that award,’ said Councillor Von Clemens.

*Councillors were also told that the purchase of the former Roman Business Centre off Le Neubourg Way – to be used as the council’s workshop – has been completed. In a statement Councillor Von Clemens said: ‘It is great to report that Gillingham Town Council continues to plan for the future with the purchase of new workshop facilities. This is a fabulous new asset for the town and will ensure that the council can continue to provide a high standard of service as the town grows.’ The premises have been bought for £385,000 with the help of a £345,000 public loan.

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