A bit of botanical magic, the Secret Herb Garden offers a heady mix of the vintage and the homegrown
The result of a memorable first date, this venue is a mix of husband and wife Hamish Martin and Liberty Kidd’s passions for herbs and vintage wares. It offers a magical venue for gatherings of all kinds just 20 minutes from Edinburgh. We talk to Liberty.
When did you start your venue business and what is its history?
The Secret Herb Garden was born in 2011 when Hamish and I went on our first date, which was dog walking! Hamish is a wine merchant with a passion for herbs and dreamt of owning a herb garden. I was a resource manager with a passion for all things vintage and dreamt of owning a café and shop full of charm – something that would make you smile. The seeds were sown and the dream began! Hamish started a diploma in Herbology at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, and after securing a plot of land in August 2012 (the blue moon) I left my role in banking. The Secret Herb Garden finally opened its doors in May 2014.
We hosted our first wedding that September when a couple, Angela and Nathan, approached us after their first venue let them down. We now do a mixture of private and corporate events and dinners.
Tell us about your location and site
We are a specialist herb nursery nestled at the foot of the Pentland hills in a dell surrounded by fields, however the bright lights of Edinburgh are just five miles away. We have a wonderful café and shop full of vintage furniture, wine and beer. The garden comprises a magical seven and half acres bordered by native hedgerows and a gentle stream.
What facilities for outdoor functions do you offer?
We have a huge, magical glasshouse that offers a truly indoor/outdoor venue experience (no matter what the weather) for up to 80 people. The glasshouse is a magical experience full of colour and beauty with intense aroma. Outside of weddings, it offers an interactive area for children and adults to enjoy alike, to experience herbs from around the world and to learn about their different medicinal, culinary and decorative attributes.
We don’t use a marquee but do have a couple of lovely arches for outdoor ceremonies which we hold either in the rose garden or the sunken garden
We can also offer The Tub (an intimate venue for up to six people) and the Schoolroom (with a capacity of up to 12 people). The Schoolroom and herb drying room is used as an educational space, with courses running on various subjects including growing herbs, bee keeping, candle making and foraging, as well as festive and seasonal courses.
The drying room is used to preserve herbs and flowers though the drying process, they are then used in the café and are for sale in the shop in the form of herbal teas and other products.
The café is a family friendly environment with fresh, seasonal, home-made food produced where possible at the Secret Herb Garden. The environment is relaxed – a place where people can come and just be, enjoying the space inside and out.
The shop sells products from the garden including candles, honey, teas, coffee, culinary and medicinal herbs as well as freshly cut flowers. We also support Scottish producers, artists and local craft makers.
What services do you offer?
We can help our bride and grooms with all the additional extras and offer a florist service and cake table. We love to help with everything from flowers to favours, choosing a caterer, baking cakes or distilling gin! We even offer gin weddings.
Describe how you researched and sourced your structures
We were lucky that all our structures were on site; they just needed some love and imagination.
How do you work with your customers to make their events unique?
We are very relaxed and honest and love working with our customers on a one to one basis, offering them support in creating a truly unique and magical experience.
How do you publicise yourself?
We don’t tend to do paid advertising, it’s normally word of mouth, recommendations or articles that lead people our way.
How would you describe your ‘style’ or unique selling point?
Relaxed and in touch with nature. We want the Secret Herb Garden to be a place where people can ‘open the door to the magic of herbs’. To relax, enjoy and feel embraced by the herbs whether that’s sitting amongst them in the glasshouse or walking among them in the gardens. The Secret Herb Garden offers something for everyone; a place to enjoy and be embraced by the surrounding herbs, plants and nature. It offers a haven to sit, enjoy and contemplate, or a place to get involved and learn how herbs and nature have an important place in our daily lives.
What challenges have you faced?
There are always challenges, but it’s what keeps life interesting!
Describe your average day mid-season
It always starts with a coffee, normally with Hamish on our favourite sofa in the glasshouse. Then it’s down to juggling business requirements, meetings, then it’s schools runs and homework.
What do you enjoy about the business and why?
Everything. We are really lucky to have had the opportunity to create the Secret Herb Garden. When we open every morning you never know what’s ahead of you, but what is generally guaranteed is that you will see a slice of joy, whether that’s a primrose flowering in the snow, bees on the spring blossoms, sparrow chicks calling, mums relaxing while their children are exploring, or two people in love exchanging their vows.
What other outdoor hospitality sectors do you operate in?
Apart from weddings, we offer dinners and corporate events. Our Full Moon Dinners have been very successful since their launch in 2015. We work with a number of top chefs and Hamish, who spent 20 years in the wine trade, pairs each course with wonderful wines. It is a fantastic experience with great food, beautiful wine, all under the light of the moon in the glasshouse.
What are you most proud of?
Our team and helping our customers make memories of magnificent, magical days.
What advice could you give to someone coming into the industry?
Ask for help and advice, and be brave.
The Secret Herb Garden
32a Old Pentland Road,
Edinburgh EH10 7EA
0131 445 5888