Some of my fondest childhood memories center around helping to plant, tend, harvest and preserve the enormous gardens that my parents and both sets of my grandparents maintained. Many of the soaps that I come up with are born of memories of those garden scents that I am trying to recreate. Fresh. Floral. Green. Herbal. Earthy. Woodsy.
Gardening comes natural to me; I don't recall a year of my adult life when I have not had a garden. There were years when a garden meant I only had patio tomatoes and herbs on my apartment balcony, or I had a very small (and forbidden) pickle patch butted up against the golf course I once lived on, but I have never not had a garden.
I don't keep a garden because I am "orgainc" or becasue I will only eat organic. If that were the case, I would simply buy organic produce at the farmers market. Planting and harvesting my own vegetables, herbs and flowers gives me a sense of pride and purpose. Much love and care goes into my garden each year. I plan my gardens in the winter months. I shop for seeds and plants in early Spring. I plant the minute the threat of a hard frost is over. My growing season goes well into the Fall. And then I "put up" my tomatoes, dill pickles and salsa. My friends like to tease me, and they find it amusing that I can and preserve food in this day and age of abundance and conveneice but for me canning and preserving is an art form. If you'll allow me to brag for a moment, I am acutually a little of famous around here for my pickles. They're an old family recipe.
When I am stressed, or overwhelmed, or sad, I head to my garden with my dogs, who also love the garden. Weeding and tending to my plants in the early morning sun or a cool summer evening is zen-like for me. My head clears, my thoughts all turn happy and I feel what can only be described as joy when I am among my plants.
I am so blessed to live where I live now. My house sits on an acre and feels like the countryside, there are farms all around me, but I am actually less than 3 miles from my decent size town. Post-divorce, when I was looking for a house where I wanted to raise my son, I had only two criteria that were absolutes: a fireplace and garden space. I have both. My garden is huge and it is fenced in. I feel like a Rockefeller. When my son was a little boy and up until about age 12, he planned, planted, and tended the garden with me every year. I am certain that those memories are going to sustain me in my old age. My hope is that someday John will plant a garden with his own children and teach them the value of be responsible for taking care of something.
My soap business takes up a great majority of my time, weekends included, so I plant only my very favorite vegetables and herbs now: Heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, pickles for preserving, green beans, lettuce, culinary herbs and lavender. I plant only what I can maintain. A garden requires daily tending. I have a veggie garden, an herb garden and a cutting-flower garden.
Take a look inside my garden ...
Do you have a garden? What do you grow?