The Spirit Garden – An examination of life through flowers and plants

When one tends a garden, one tends to contemplate life. It’s very simple. Sometimes this examination is purely on a physical level; i.e. the plants right in front of our face. Other times it’s a more of a philosophical nature, one that reaches beyond the border of our property, nurturing our senses towards self introspection, leading to the creation of a spiritual garden.

If nothing else, gardening has taught me much. Not just about myself, but many life lessons have been transferred from plants to this person.

When  one views the world as a garden, one is more apt to engage nature with all the senses, as well as the mind and heart. Simply by observing and engaging in what nature has to offer, people have the ability to grow, not unlike a garden.

  • Equate weeds to negativity and flowers to the good things in your life. Take some time and pull the weeds out or they’ll spread, choking out all the flowers you wish to flourish.
  • Equate flowers to human beings. A diverse garden with many types of plants is worth celebrating and exploring. Can anyone, gardener or not, imagine a plot consisting of only one type of flower? How utterly boring.
  • Equate your garden to where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. A garden never stays the same and like life, change is inevitable.
  • Some plants wither and die. Chuck ’em in the compost and move on. Sometimes nothing will keep them alive. That goes for some relationships, too. People are really like flowers and will add joy and happiness to your garden, and not take it away.
  •  Corporate gardens are easy to spot. Usually heavily manicured, clipped, and planted overnight with annuals for instant gratification, they reside in front of many a sterile muncipal-type building, appearing like oppressive backdrops touting perfection, which is not possible in reality. They lack creativity and offer little or no benefit to local wildlife or sustenance for pollinators. What does bloom is dead-headed, discarded, and never allowed to set seeds for next year. They devolve in to a barren environment for most of the year, and tall poppies need not apply.
  • Cutting back taller flowers will not make the smaller ones look better.
  • Stay connected to your roots. Many a plant in my garden can be traced to a memory, a friend, a family member who may no longer alive, or a beloved place I can no longer visit. Nurturing those plants keeps those memories alive!
  • Every plant has its season. Enjoy them as they bloom. Live in the moment, as does each plant. Know that when it has finished blooming for the time being, it will be back next year to enjoy all over again.
  • Spending time in nature is healing. Don’t just work in the garden. Take the time to sit and enjoy the effort you’ve put in to it.
  • A garden won’t grow without water. Sometimes in life it rains, but this is good for the garden, and the sun will shine again.
  • Some people will not like your garden. That’s okay! Each garden offers the personality of the gardener. If they were all the same, the world would be a very boring place indeed.
  • The power of contemplation originates in abandonment of self. For example, if I’m feeling down or dwelling on something, I go to the garden. My thoughts stop inserting themselves and my focus is on what’s in front of me instead of what was troubling me. Gardening really is like burying your troubles in the dirt!
  • Gardening is a living canvas. As an artist who could not paint for several years, I found another way to be creative by designing my garden, and others, which offered an alternative outlet to explore all kinds of ideas, colours, textures, all the while offering inspiration to get back to painting when the time was right!

Shall add to this as I go along!

Would love to hear your garden thoughts.

Thanks for visiting!

 

Forget-me-nots for Mother’s Day, and some folklore too!

The dainty Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica), is a European native now naturalized throughout much of North America.

This harbinger of spring and member of the Borage family, prefers moist habitats and partial shade along the edge of trees or woodland.

Once planted, they’ll likely always be there! They seed readily but are easily removed if one feels they’re starting to take over the garden.

Medieval lore states a knight errant and his lady walked along a river, and that gentleman bent down to pick his lady-love a bouquet of these blue flowers.

Unfortunately, he lost his footing on some slippery rocks and fell into the river. The weight of his armor was too much. His last words cried out before being claimed by the depths was “Forget-me-not”!

To this day, the forget-me-not is given to someone who you hope will keep you in their thoughts.

With that in mind, they grow throughout my garden as a remembrance of my mother who has been gone for many years, along with many other people and yes, pets too!

For all who have passed on but are still wrapped around our hearts and forever in our minds, this little flower is a lovely reminder for us all.

Happy Mother’s Day 🙂

 

Forage for Borage – A historic and useful herb for any garden

Borage flowers – A true blue addition to any garden!

This herb with its star-shaped flowers is not only beautiful, but extremely useful!

I’ve always felt this plant was underrated in our gardens, unlike in the past where its qualities were highly valued.

Admiring them as one would any species with a historical pedigree, this heirloom has been cultivated since (at least) the 1400s, and the folklore they encompass states just how much borage was valued.

It was said to bring courage to one’s heart. “Borage for courage” as the saying goes. Ancient Celtic people believed borage offered courage in the face of enemies on the battle field. How extraordinary!

In our modern times the quote should be renamed “Forage for Borage” 😉  As a courageous companion plant, it’s known to repel hornworms on tomatoes, offering this plant a serious if not fashionable comeback.

Borage may be considered an annual herb where I live, but it self seeds easily and appreciates any extra warmth offered by the raised beds in our yard. They’ve settled in quite happily!

The dainty flowers are edible, offering a slight cucumber-like flavour. Use them in soups, salads, sandwiches, or as a substitute for spinach (stuffed into traditional pasta), or as a pretty garnish on the plate. A friend of mine uses them to flavour her pickles, while another makes teas and assorted iced drinks with them. In addition there’s a recipe for a simple syrup at the end of this post.

Thankfully Borage is not a fussy plant and grows well in most soils. I’m happy to report that deer avoid Borage like the plague, likely due to its fuzzy leaves. A real plus in many a gardener’s mind!

If you like to save and share, Borage seeds are easily harvested, or leave them to self sow.

Every year you can look forward to them gracing the garden once again.

Those showy little blue star-shaped flowers attract bees, butterflies, and all sorts of good pollinators. They’re a wonderful addition to anyone’s garden!

Note:

  1. When planting Borage seeds, the best time to do this is in spring, after any remaining chance of frost. Soak the seeds first in wet paper towel overnight, and then sow them directly into the garden, but not too deep, as half an inch will suffice.
  2. Borage will grow to a height of 2- 3 feet.
  3. The oil from Borage seeds is highly valued and plants are now commercially cultivated for skin care products and other items. It’s one of my favourite go-to ingredients for use in my own products.
  4. If you see some of your flowers are pink, then there is likely a deficiency in your soil. Below is a photo from a couple of years ago. I’ve since discovered this is a common site if Borage is growing in dry, gravelly soil. To fix this, simply add some triple-mix or compost. The pink is actually quite pretty, and Borage may even offer white flowers from time to time.

Recipe: Borage Simple Syrup

This simple syrup offers up a light cucumber flavour.

1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup borage flowers

– Bring the sugar and water to simmer, until all the sugar has dissolved.
– Add the flowers, simmer for 2 -3 minutes and remove from heat
– Let this steep for at least 2 hours before straining.
– Keep this in the refrigerator and use within one month.
– Makes about 1 & 1/4 cups

It’s the perfect addition to a summer cocktail.. Enjoy!

Happy Gardening! 🙂