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on Donegal's Wild Atlantic Way

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Columbia Hillen


Columbia Hillen herbalist

I don’t really remember a time when plants were not an important part of my life. 


Love for them and their healing powers must be in my genes.


I grew up with a Romanian grandmother who solved most problems, physical and psychological, with plants such as mugwort, St. John’s Wort or yarrow. In turn, my mother has also always nourished plants, growing all sorts on the balcony of our modest apartment in the small rural town of Viseu, in northern Transylvania.

As a child, my favorite hobby was to pretend I was cooking a meal using leaves, roots, and even different types of dirt. If effect, whatever I could find in my grandmother’s courtyard. Most of the time, I would slip into a dreamlike state when ‘cooking,’ finding the experience both relaxing and invigorating.

For me now, having undergone training as an herbalist, matching and marrying herbs feels like cooking. Or more accurately, a combination of cooking and perfume-making - another interest I’ve developed while traveling the length and breadth of southern France visiting different perfumeries and taking courses on the craft in England.


A lover of travel (See some of my photos on, I have been fortunate to visit many countries over the last twenty years and one way I remember them is through the plants I discovered there. I feel a rush of childlike joy when I see new plants I’ve never seen before. It’s like meeting new friends, as well as re-acquainting myself with old, familiar ones.


I experience life mainly through my sense of smell and taste. I nibble my way along hiking trails and, if given the chance in restaurants, I ask the chefs a million questions about what herbs and ingredients they use. 

While enjoying the aroma of herbs and learning about their healing properties, I also admire their shape and colour and photograph them whenever possible (See some of my photos on on


Having completed a two-year apprenticeship at The Plant Medicine School in Ireland, I am now studying to be a Medical Herbalist and this is my wild herb garden on the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal, northwestern Donegal. 


I am grateful to all - more than one hundred types of plants, used for medicinal purposes since ancient times - who accepted my invitation to make this their home. 

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...a glimpse into this garden of over one hundred herbs used as medicine by our ancestors

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Visits of the garden

By appointment only

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Anamcara Healing Herbs Garden

Brinlack, Co Donegal

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