Village People: Dr Sally Gouldstone, founder of Seilich Botanicals
This month's Village Green maker is Sally, founder of Seilich Botanicals and makes the meadow-grown natural room mists that we stock.
Photo credit: Emma Martin
Where’s your favourite coffee spot?
As much as we’re blessed with some great cafes in East Lothian, my favourite way to drink my coffee is from a flask on a wintry wander; there’s nothing quite like cracking opening a flask on a freezing cold day having found some secret spot to pause for a minute…
Woodhall Dean near to Spott is an absolutely magical place to go to spot wildflowers and hear songbirds, especially in the spring. It’s one of the last few examples of an ancient semi-natural woodland in East Lothian; that’s a woodland of natural origin (i.e., not planted), that has been in existence for as long as our records began (1750 in Scotland). These types of woodland are really special, they’re not only incredibly rare but they support really high levels of wildlife, so we’re very lucky to have it!
Where’s your favourite place to go in East Lothian?
How did you start doing what you now do?
I’ve worked in nature conservation for over 20 years and have been lucky enough to work on some really exciting projects; tracking orangutans in tropical swamp forests of Borneo, discovering new species in dry deciduous forests of Madagascar, and monitoring lichen dispersal in temperate rainforests of Scotland. However, whilst on maternity leave, I decided to start my own experiment in nature conservation by sowing a wildflower meadow. I absolutely loved seeing an area of bare earth transform into a buzzing ecosystem, and started making soap and bath oils from the flowers I was growing, as a way of funding an expansion to the meadow. I really enjoyed running my own little business, and things sort of grew from there!
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love that I get to spend my days with nature. I can’t believe that wandering around a wildflower meadow, noting the visiting bees and butterflies and checking how the plants are faring, is a legitimately important part of my day!
What’s your next project?
I’m planning on expanding the range of crops that I grow this year so I can start making herbal teas, which I’m a little bit excited about. I’m also hoping to open my meadow and workshop up for a day or two this summer to demonstrate our Wildlife Friendly farming methods.
What are you most proud of?
My Wildlife Friendly Certification. And my little girl. And my PhD. But not necessarily in that order!
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was The Running Hare: The Secret Life of Farmland by John Lewis-Stempel. I’d recommend it to anyone out there who is feeling a bit despondent about the natural world, as it offers so much hope.
Do you have a claim to fame?
My ultimate claim to fame is meeting David Attenborough. At the time I was living with a handful of other scientists in a remote part of the jungle in Borneo. We’d been there for a few months and were all going a bit stir crazy. One day we saw a dug-out canoe coming down the river; as we’d not seen anyone outside our little circle for a while this was a very exciting event! We all pushed our way through the jungle to the river bank thinking that we might be able to wave and exchange a ‘Salam’ with a local fisherman. Only as the boat got nearer, we realised it wasn’t a local person at all, but a western person… and then the familiar blue shirt and oh my gosh!!! Its only David Attenborough!!! And there on the other bank emerged an entire film crew. It was the BBC’s Natural History department filming Life of Mammals. They sent the boat across the river to us and we spent the afternoon chatting about the jungle. As the sun set, we watched orangutans in the trees above our heads and I got to sit right next to the man himself, it was absolutely amazing. Anyone would think I was making it up but I have the pictures (of a very disconcerted David Attenborough as I got far too close to him) to prove it!