Down the rabbit hole, and into the garden.

Down the rabbit hole…

My mind does not work linearly. I’m a “down the rabbit” hole kind of explorer and I love every minute of it. I think that’s why I’m good at trivia. Because at some point, I’ve read lightly about almost every topic after stumbling upon it from a search for something else. What I love about this way of exploring is that I get the feeling that I’m in the middle of an expanding circle that keeps getting more and more interesting. And so many things often converge that tie into each other and inform one another.

I’ve noticed this about some of my hobbies and interests. An area that I’ve been intrigued by for a very long time is related to plants and nature and medicine and fragrance and self care. I often think that if I lived in another time and place, I would be the village herbalist or a shaman or the procurer of food for my pioneer family. I’d completely be the one looking at that wild mushroom saying “I’m sure it’ll be fine! Here, I’ll just try a nibble.”

I love the idea of self sufficiency and being able to get everyone you need from the land outside your door. I’ve recently been buying things from a local herbalist. She grows or forages all of the plants and concocts them into formulas. I buy them somewhat randomly and I don’t really know if they work, but I get a kick out of it anyway, and it’s made me want to try to grow things again.

My relationship with gardening is not awesome. I love plants and flowers, and I love CREATING a garden but that dastardly maintenance kills me (and all my plants) every time. There are some hardy souls in my garden. The dogwood that really shouldn’t survive in a Maine climate, but does anyway (thought it took 10 years to blossom). The China Girl Holly that wasn’t particularly healthy when I got from Lowes or some such place, but has grown into a beautiful and healthy specimen by my front door. The bearded irises that grow and spread and bloom and are beautiful, no matter how much I dig them up and move them. The PJM rhodos that got overgrown and leggy until a few years ago, I cut them down hard and they survived and thrived.

Last year, I decided it was time for a garden rejuvenation, so I started by clearing out a very large weedy area and this year, my plan is tackle the front garden – really the most visible part of my yard. It’s about a 24 X 24 foot space with the dogwood in the middle and rhodos by the house. So I’ve been manically thinking about what to plant. A few things are on my mind:

  • Herbs and plants I can make tinctures out of so I can play medicine woman – and also use for cooking
  • Flowers, and plants that I can harvest for fragrances (tying into my new candle making hobby – maybe more on that soon)
  • Edibles other than herbs, like lettuces and greens to feed those voracious bunnies.
  • Flowers for cutting so I can always have a beautiful bouquet in the summertime.

I love the idea of mixing all these things together into something wild and beautiful like an English cottage garden. For expertise I’m relying on my mom (who proclaims “Oh I don’t know what I’m doing! I’m just dig a whole and plant it! – and comes up with the most gorgeous garden in all the land), and my good friend BH&G – with lots of garden plans that I can steal from.

But right now… it’s still March. I want to think spring is here, but it’s really not. So for now, I’ll dream and plan, and stay awake plotting and digging and smelling and enjoying the garden of my imagination. Here are some photos from last summer of areas that I plan to improve or build upon this year.

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