I have had a close relationship with plants my whole life. I have a distinct memory of being a small child, maybe 5 or 6 years old, and playing in my grandmother’s backyard with my cousin, who is only a few months younger than myself. We were making a magic potion on the cinder-block “stove” that we had made with some other rocks and a block that was hanging around back there. We pounded and crushed a handful of weeds we had gathered from the yard; some clover, grass, dandelion flowers and leaves, and plantain leaves and seeds. We mixed some water in to the “potion” and when I was picking more plants to add to the mixture, I cut my hand on a blade of grass. I applied some of the “magic potion”, and to my amazement, the pain was instantly gone. My skin began to knit itself back together much more quickly than ever before. Without knowing it, I used one of the most wonderful healing “weeds”, Plantain.
This relationship with plants just grew more beautiful throughout my childhood. I spent many hours helping my mother in the garden. We always had a garden, no matter what financial struggles we went through. My mom always had a large collection of perennials, and regularly split them and left some by the road with a sign, “Free Perennials”. Irises, Beebalm, Lilac, Lavender, Rosemary, Chives, Strawberries, Foxgloves, Flock, Rose of Sharon, Poppies, Columbine, Rhubarb, Peonies, Raspberries and Blackberries….So many beautiful blossoms and fragrances fill my memories of those summers. I am so grateful to my mother for cultivating the love of plants in myself and my siblings.
I remember the year I got my own little piece of the garden to work with. I must have been about 10 years old. My parents had just dug around the back stairwell, near the back entrance to our house. The retaining wall had been leaking and needed repair. When the job was done, a little plot of garden was empty and wanting some love. So my mom let me have a spot, maybe 4 feet by 4 feet, and the first things I planted were some lovely chives. We had so many around. Then I took some strawberry runners and transplanted them into my new garden. They were followed by Dusty Miller and Lavender. I was so excited to have this little piece of earth to take care of. Every morning I woke up and would go check on my garden to see what had changed, what had grown, what was blossoming.
This year I will have the honour of being caretaker of a few acres just outside of Waterloo, where I hope to grow many herbs to use in my herbal remedies. I have planned a few herb spiral gardens, and my partner and I will be practicing permaculture, a method of permanent agriculture, mimicking the natural systems in nature. We will be doing group plantings, and managing some “guilds”, groupings around fruit or nut trees, with supporting plants surrounding the tree in the center.
My heart fills with joy every time I am in a garden I have worked with my hands, and helped to create with my thoughts. It is one of the most satisfying experiences in my life, going to the garden, gathering up some food, and setting a beautiful table covered in things I have brought forth from the earth! This is an experience I hope everyone has, and I know that it can easily be created. Many Blessings!