From a tradition of healing to the transmission of knowledge...
Nettle, camomile, lemon balm, California Poppy, ginger, dandelion, elderberry, arnica, thyme, St. John's Wort, and wild celery are but a tiny selection of the plants used for their therapeutic properties. These medicinal plants have been used in healing since time immemorial. Picardy Wallonia, and particularly the triangle of Lessines, Deux-Acren and Flobecq, has long been an area where medicinal plants have been cultivated. A spotlight on some of the medicinal gardens that will show you how much natural cures can benefit your health!
The Flobecq Medicinal Plant House
Flobecq has been a cradle of learning about medicinal plants since the sixteenth century. Many herbalists and healers were still harnessing the power of natural remedies into the 1950s, when medicinal plants were still very popular. In Flobecq and the surrounding area alone, 150 hectares is given over to the cultivation of these herbs.
The Medicinal Plant House is dedicated to the history of therapeutic herbs, from ancient times to the present. More than 80 species of plants are grown in its garden. And if you opt for a guided tour, Anne will reveal to you all the benefits of the plants cultivated in her garden. After that, go to the sun terrace and enjoy a refreshing drink made from wild celery! Finally, stretch your legs on the Medicinal Plant Trail, which starts at the Medicinal Plant House.
The Notre Dame à la Rose Hospital Plant Garden
In the 19th century and until the 1960s, Lessines was also well known for its cultivation of medicinal plants. The medicinal herb garden of the Notre-Dame à la Rose Hospital allowed its pharmacy to produce home-grown remedies. The nuns used extracts, essences, and infusions of herbs to prepare their remedies. Helkiase, a miracle drug invented by Sister Marie-Rose Carouy in 1897, was a great success well beyond her country’s borders.
Among the most commonly used herbs, celandine was known to burn off warts, comfrey mended bones, and sedum healed burns. Today, more than 120 plants of therapeutic value are grown in the former nuns’ cemetery, by the side of a traditional kitchen garden. Regular visits organised during the “Weekends Patrimoine en Vie” and the “Family Afternoons" can introduce you to the healing powers of plants.
The Jardins de la Grange (Grange Gardens)
Véronique from Ellezelles’s Jardins de la Grange is passionate about medicinal plants. She reconnects with the traditions of the Pays des Collines by cultivating these wild, aromatic, medicinal herbs in her garden, which she uses as a means to pass on the secrets and value of these plants. She harvests her herbs to produce herbal teas, which you can try in her shop, or from the teas on the menu at the inn. Introduce yourself to the traditional use of medicinal herbs by signing up for one of the guided tours.
Yves Vanopdenbodch was born into it really! Coming from a family of pharmacists, and passionate about medicinal herbs and their transformation into herbal teas, oils and ointments, he would become a lecturer and teacher, and the founder of the Ecole des Plantes de Lessines (The Lessines School of Herbalism). All budding herbalists are welcome, as independent learners or students. The teaching provided helps preserve knowledge about medicinal herbs and their use in herbal medicines.
Finally, the Herboristerie des Collines, known as "Wi", in Ellezelles, has a solid reputation. Here, you’ll discover a whole range of the finest medicinal plants—sold loose, essential oils, phyto-aroma-gemmo synergies of extracts, oils and buds, Bach Flower Remedies, herbal teas, natural cosmetics, and many other products based on medicinal herbs.