Sacred Journeys: Planning My New GardenKim Elkington June 1, 2005
As I entered the kitchen this morning I noticed my Mom was looking out the window and exclaiming, “Well, this is the day of the Dandelion.” Sure enough, there were yellow happy faces spotting the lawn, and the same magic appeared at our neighbours as well. “Imagine all that underground chatter deciding that today was the day they were all coming up. Well, bless them.”
She’s right, it is indeed curious how they all arrived on the same day. Likewise the daffodils all chose to pull their energy from their flowers last night, even though 72 of them that had survived heat and frigid temperatures.
It has been fun watching spring arrive, particularly this year. Being a new homeowner I had no idea what the previous owner planted, and the wild flowers on the property were each an unexpected surprise. There were two acres of grass that wanted raking so I waited until family visited to begin the daunting task. As each section of grass had its hair brushed and scalp massaged, it would say thanks the following day with greener grass, baby violets, and tiny white flowers I’ve yet to identify.
It is such a wonderful way to approach a day; expecting unexpected visits. My heart leaps at the first bumblebee or beetle, summer songbird, or the apple blossom buds outside the kitchen. Each new arrival is greeted like a dear friend gone long enough that the sight of them floods me with memories of other summers, and the world bursts into sharper focus, buzzing a little louder.
I would like to let the property unfold with little involvement from myself, other than my receptive enthusiasm at its revelations. However, there is no vegetable garden here, which is a must, so this year the grass was covered early with flat cardboard boxes and black plastic to hinder its growth while the garden was designed on paper.
First year gardens are a lot of work, but once a year’s worth of greens, manure, ash, bone and fish emulsion are in there it is easier the following year to mulch and reduce the need to till the following years.
Next year I may build spiral webs with string and lattice for the sweet peas but for this first year I will keep it simple. In keeping with the medicine wheel, the main entrance will be in the east. The four directions will be honored with flowers that bloom the appropriate color. The garden will pay homage to the devic energies with a small shrine and the four elements will also be represented. How these elements look will be revealed when it’s time.
The contents of the garden this year will be based on medicinal herbs I love to use, for example – chickweed, echinacea and calendula for tinctures. Yarrow, angelica root, and marshmallow also are attractive herbs to me. Feeling drawn to a plant can be quite significant. I read about their traditional uses later and it makes perfect sense that they be included in my larder for the winter ahead. Basil will be there in abundance as it clears sinuses, eases bug bites and makes everything taste wonderful. Mountain mint has an equal list of praises.
The edible flowers, culinary herbs and vegetables I plant will be those most recommended for blood type A in Eat Right For Your Blood Type by Peter J. D’Adamo (Putnam, 1996). Many of these vegetables are almost impossible to buy outside of urban centres, especially favorites like arugula, chicory, and pale blue Russian kale.
Likewise I will need to cultivate my own favorite salad greens if they are to grace the table: sheep sorrel, heartsease, calendula, daisy, chickweed, violet, nettle, lamb’s quarters and delightful dandelion.
All my life I have longed to grow a raised bed of dandelion (for its medicinal roots and salad greens), and have something beautifully purple right beside it, like lavender or chive flowers. Perhaps the neighbors would prefer cowslips or calendula, rather than thousands of dandelions going to seed. Did you know that according to ancient European lore, if you rub dandelion all over your body, everyone will welcome you and all your wishes will be granted?
It is my wish that the garden this year is given what it needs, be it rain, sun, cooling breezes, or human attention, so that it may teach, nourish, thrive and surprise us each and every day. Happy gardening.
Kim Elkington is the co-founder of The Algonquin Tea Co, a line of quality teas made from organic wildcrafted Canadian herbs. These days, Kim works with Local Sustainably Wild-picked Canadian herbs to make organic herbal, black, green and chai tea blends. Find these products online: www.wildcanadiantea.com, or www.algonquintea.com Email Kim at: firstname.lastname@example.org