by Claudia Sutton
“There is no glory in star or blossom until looked upon by a loving eye. There is no fragrance in April breezes till breathed with joy as they wander by” – (William Cullen Bryant)
Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of Spring?
I ventured out for an early walk today with Ollie the dog, and the air was filled with the scent of pine and spruce and an earthy fragrance that comes after a rain. It was as if all the trees were bursting with green.
Now that it appears that Spring is truly here, we applaud the cheerful bird sounds to greet the day, with more sunshine to warm our winter weary souls. The overnight temperatures are not as daunting to keep the young plants warm, so we have more time to plant and seed, and more time to wander the gardens to see what new growth of perennials there are. We are often surprised to find a perennial that lost its marker and that we had forgotten about. I love these serendipitous surprises in nature.
Each day passes so quickly as compared to the long days of winter. When it’s time to transplant the herbs, a wide smile spreads across my face, as the heavenly scents of basil, oregano, sage, lavender, and many others fill the greenhouse. This is my happy place. We have a small sign in the greenhouse that says “Please touch the herbs”, as we have found this is the way the scent is released.
In the early years of growing herbs, I soon discovered there really was something to the term “aroma-therapy”. After watering a number of scented geraniums, or pruning up to at least 100+ varieties of herbs, I would return back to other chores completely relaxed. I decided to enrol for Certification as an Aromatherapy Health Practitioner to learn more about this ancient therapy, which included healing massage, aromatology, and learning the history of herbs for their culinary, medicinal and healing qualities. Of late, I have expanded on this and have begun a home Herbalist program. There are numerous books and videos and a whole host of information on these topics; however, I am a staunch enthusiast of just the raw plant material; its texture, and its benefits of taste and scent and medicinal qualities.
I must admit that with all this information, one can find it daunting as to which way to proceed – perhaps a scented medicinal garden or a kitchen culinary garden!? If it is one’s first try with herbs, and one wishes to plant a herb garden for healing and fragrance, perhaps the choice of lemon verbena (calming with either hot or iced tea), lemon balm, bergamot, calamint, chamomile, or sage could be considered. For a kitchen or culinary garden, one might choose chocolate or banana mint, thyme, parsley, basil or rosemary. Herbs are versatile and useful in such a variety of ways. One could never become bored! Many flowers of herbs are edible as well!
Herb gardens come in all sizes – perhaps one could keep just a few potted plants outside your door, or on your deck or intermix them. Locating herbs along a walkway or by an entry way ensures any passerby will delight in the plant’s colours, textures and scents.
If lavender is on your list of herbs to grow, you can find bliss with easy lavender recipes that promote relaxation and stress relief, (something many of us are in need of right now).
A lavender bath soak with lavender bath salts are calming and therapeutic and include;
1 cup of Epsom salts, 1 cup of Himalayan salt or sea salt, 20 drops of lavender essential oil, 3 tbsp sweet almond or olive oil, 1/4 cup dried lavender buds. Add salt to a 1 quart bowl and mix, and then add essential oil and the almond or olive oil and mix thoroughly. Stir in lavender buds. Store in a lightly sealed jar.
Here’s hoping your journey into herbs is a pleasant, scent-filled one!
“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” – (Helen Keller)