Tuesday, 14 September 2010
During the summer holidays the Garden has tried to have some form of activity each weekday. This has included walks, den building, worms, and pond dipping.
My involvement was to be inside the Physicians Barn and cover 4000 years of plant medicine in 20 minutes! As a bonus for the younger visitors I had borrowed a couple of medicinal leeches from my friends at Biopharm, Hendy and showed these. They had been fed recently, so I was reasonably comfortable having them on my hands. I noticed that when I took the leeches out of the jar the older people tended to take a step back, while the youngsters moved forward.
The leeches were kept on site, and the water was replaced twice a week. Normally I would only do this once a week, but freshly fed leeches can cause the water to get murky very quickly.
Tap water is harmful to the leeches skin, so I used water from the feature in the square; this is sourced from an underground supply, and has none of the chemicals that can upset the leeches.
They were obviously comfortable with their living conditions; when I returned the leeches the manager at Biopharm told me that one was pregnant! Apparently the third segment changes colour slightly, but I couldn't see the difference.
The next step will be to have live leeches permanenly on display. The leech jars in the Physicians Hall are great for short-term storage but not ideal for long term. If anyone has something such as a large sweetie jar or a large pickle onion type jar that I could have......? It must be glass, and if it has a Victorian feel to it that would be brilliant, although I have some ideas as to how to make the jar look "leechy".