Since discovering the amazing natural skincare from Weleda a few years ago I’ve longed to visit the gardens in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, where the magic happens. Luckily for two weeks every year Weleda throw open their doors to the public, giving tours of the Biodynamic gardens, talks and product demonstrations, all of which give visitors a fantastic insight into this tradition yet very dynamic company, and this year I was able to get down and make my dream a reality.
Following the SatNav I was surprised to learn, as I passed a huge Tesco store, that I was only a minute away from the Weleda Headquarters. Surely I’d made a mistake, could this little oasis of calm be slap bang in the middle of Ilkeston’s urban sprawl? But then I spied the pink building and turned into the car park. Tucked away off the main road was a beautiful red brick building with a large, airy garden room attached and a beautifully tended patch of land, filled with blooms of every type and colour.
The Bloggers and Wellbeing Advisors invited for the Insight Day congregated in the garden room, chatting and enjoying welcome drinks whilst we waited for everyone to arrive. Susie who manages the PR for Weleda then gave us a short welcome talk before we jumped in the minibus to head over to the Weleda gardens.
Weleda grow all their own ingredients, whether that is right here in the UK or as far away as Brazil and New Zealand, with the main ingredients for their skincare being found in their fields in Germany. The plants grown in their Derbyshire fields are used mainly to make the tinctures used in Weleda’s homeopathic remedies, and there is such a variety; from native wildflowers to ferns, grasses to trees; everything in the garden has a purpose and use, and anything not used in the products is composted and invested back in the earth. I was amazed at how lush and vibrant everything was, and each and every plant looked so healthy with no sign of disease or excessive pest damage. All this is achieved without the use of pesticides or man made fertilisers!
After exploring the garden, woods and meadows we met Mick the Beekeeper, who keeps his bees on Weleda’s land and regularly gives talks to local school children. As well as learning about the important role bees play in pollinating our crops, we learned about the different types of hives and got to try some of the honey which was absolutely delicious!
A key part of Weleda’s ethos is their Biodynamic approach to farming, and it is at the heart of everything they do. This is an alternative format of agriculture, very similar to organic farming but encorporating the various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Weleda’s co-founder Rudolf Steiner, and the final part of our visit to the garden was a talk in which Claire explained some of the techniques and principles they use in the garden. It was then time to jump back into our minibus and head to the main building for lunch.
Following the amazing lunch which included two huge cakes (because let’s face it, one dessert is simply not enough) we had an introduction to Weleda’s number 1 bestselling product – and a personal favourite of mine – Skinfood which has been around since Weleda was founded and this year celebrated its 90th Birthday. We then gave one another hand massages using this wonderful balm, then Claire demonstrated how to make a Calendula Tincture, aided by two willing volunteers. Calendula, or as it is commonly known Pot Marigold, is a cheerful plant which produces prolific bright orange blooms and it is a key ingredient in Skinfood as well as the ever popular Calendula Baby Range. At the end of the day all the participants were given a fantastic goody bag, packed full of Weleda treats.
By visiting Weleda I’ve gained such a greater respect and affinity with the brand. I’m in awe at how much love and dedication they plow into the earth that they carefully plant and nurture. Everyone we met there was so passionate and enthusiastic about what they do and their hard work certainly reflects in the fantastic products. I left the gardens feeling enthused and invigorated.
If you would like to find out more about Weleda, whether it’s from the point of view as a green-beauty fan or even just as a gardener, I would definitely recommend registering for one of their Insight Days. There are still a few dates available in 2016 and you can find out how to get involved here.