Monday, October 22, 2012


As summer fades and fall weaves its way into out lives I look for ways to appreciate what nature brings to my life. I am thankful for the apples on the tree that I can grab at any time and slather them with almond butter for a yummy treat. I have lots of peppermint and chocolate mint, dried for tea by itself or to add to hot chocolate and other foods this winter. I have Lavender to flavor breads and honey, and it may even be honey from our hive this year! I have restrained myself from cutting back the dried up sunflower heads because I adore the little Goldfinches that appear and sing their high-pitched sweet song as they feast on the seeds, but other cuttings must go on to prepare for the next season. I enjoy seeing what happens at this stage in a plants life- it has emerged from the ground, budded and bloomed, revealed its beauty, and then begins to withdraw and produce seeds. Early autumn, is a great time for a project to teach children about nature. Be mindful when cutting back your plants to look for seed pods, dried flower heads, leaves, and stems that are unusual shapes and colors. Kids are very good at noticing the details of plants and there’s so much you can teach them by just taking a nature walk through your own or a friend’s backyard, a nearby park, or a public botanical garden. Show them how the dried flower heads and pods provide a protective shelter for their seeds. Talk to them about how color attracts bees and other pollinators to ensure that there will always be more plants. Notice how the sturdy stems and the graceful balancing leaves form the body of the plant and help it survive. Gather your favorite dried flower heads, stems, seeds, and leaves, in a basket or bowl, (be careful not to choose anything that is too prickly), and let your children make a picture with the gatherings. All you need is a sturdy piece of paper, (I prefer handmade paper), and a glue stick. Be free to let your thoughts play. Kids have no problem coming up with amazing designs. It’s a beautiful and educational way to pass a morning or afternoon and fulfills that never-ending desire we have to be creative beings. {Plants we chose are: flowers from Bee Balm, Lady’s Mantle, Blue Vervain, Calendula, Purple Coneflower, Wood Betony, Yarrow, Rose of Sharon, Elecampane, and Pincushion; pods from the Mexican Primrose and Campanula; and leaves from Lamb Ears, Yarrow, and Daisies} I’d love to see what everyone comes up with so please feel free to email me your masterpieces. Enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Herbal Baths...

I learned about herbal baths while studying in Belize . You can make one for yourself, a family member or friend. Taking an herbal bath washes away negativity and revives your spirit. Herbal baths are made from five elements: 1- the plants chosen, 2-the sunlight, 3-the water that captures the essence, 4- the hands that prepare the bath, and 5- the earth where the preparation is allowed to sit.

To begin making your herbal bath wander around in your garden and begin to meditate about the person the bath is for, (yourself or anyone else). Pay attention to any particular thoughts you may have about this person. Is this person in a gloomy state of mind, tired and overworked, recovering from an illness, suffering any imbalance, or just needing some extra love or nurturing. Herbal baths will benefit just about any kind of need. Look around at the flowers, and other plants that you have in your garden. Which ones reach out to you as you think about how much this person will be helped by the herbal bath. The way to choose your plants is not an exact science and you can’t make a mistake. I always choose odd numbers like 3, 5, 7, or 9, of each flower or herb. If a particular flower looks extremely beautiful to me while I wander I may pick 9 of them. If I sense a more subtle emotion then I may only pick 3. Gather your flowers and herbs by picking them with your bare hands and placing them in a bucket or a large bowl, filled with water. Pick at least 9 different kinds. I like to use a glass bowl but I learned to do this with a plastic bucket which would be safer if you have children around you. It is very important to offer thanks to the divine spirit of the plant that is offering it’s healing to you. Remember to always honor this. After you have gathered all of your flowers and/or herbs, you are ready to find a comfortable place to sit and finish preparing your bath. Gently break apart all the plants and flowers into fairly small pieces and keep mixing them into the water until you finish. This part could take awhile so use the time to continue your meditation. You may notice how lighthearted the energy of the plants makes you feel while doing this. The photo below shows how a bath might look when it is ready to sit. Place your bath preparation in the sun on the grass or ground in the garden where you gathered the plants, and let it sit for several hours, letting the sun play its role in drawing out the healing properties of the plants.

When the bath is warmed from the sun and ready for you there are several ways you may partake in it. Ideally, if you have a private place you can slowly pour the bath over your naked body flowers and all. If you don’t have a private place you can wear a bathing suit, or even carry the bath to your inside tub. In the cooler weather I add my herbal baths to a tub of warm water. Wherever you decide to take your bath, enjoy the feeling of being covered with flowers and other plants and try to leave them on you as long as you can. It’s really quite fun to see yourself this way and hard to keep from laughing too. These baths lift your heart and clear your spirit. The effects of the baths are subtle but very long-lasting. You may not think you notice anything but find that a week later you felt more relaxed, cheery, or positive that week.
If you take your bath inside, drain your tub afterwards and then gather up the plants and return them to the earth outside. If you take your bath outside, leave them on the ground or rake them under a bush or tree. They will help the earth to grow more beautiful plants for you to use in the future.

Recommended reading: Spiritual Baths by Rosita Arvigo, (2003)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Refreshing Iced tea on a hot summer day

Wondering what to do with all of that mint growing in your garden? A friend passed on a recipe to me that is absolutely delicious and so refreshing during the hot summer days. It’s easy and quick to make. Everyone I’ve made the tea for loves it and wants the recipe so I thought it would be a good thing to share. Remember, it’s much easier to solve problems and make decisions over a cup of tea. Enjoy!

Moroccan Tea
1 -½ to 2 cups of fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
1/3 cup organic unrefined cane sugar
7 whole cloves
2 black tea bags, (I like black Assam )
2 orange slices ¼ inch thick with the rind left on
Bring 5 to 6 cups of water to a boil. Place all tea ingredients in a pot, or bowl that you can cover. Gently pour the boiling water over the tea ingredients; Cover and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir to mix in the sugar and then strain into a teapot. Serve warm or pour over ice. Refrigerate any left over tea and drink within 2 days, either hot or cold.

Comfrey leaves

Many of my friends tell me, "You should have a blog". I reply, "Well, I would if I had time". Meanwhile, as the days pass in the garden, I find myself frequently thinking, "Oh, this would be fun to share", so here I am, blogging!
Today I am sharing the harvest of Comfrey leaves, (one of many), which I cut from the main plant, and then lay out and/or hang to dry. The hot dry climate of Colorado is perfect for quick drying of the Comfrey and many other herbs. Always dry herbs in a warm, dry place, out of any direct sunlight. When the leaves are crisp and make a crunchy sound when squeezed, I know they are fully dry, ready to be cut or broken into small pieces and then I store them in an airtight jar in a cool dark place. The drying process usually takes about 4 or 5 days.
This is a fun project to have help from the kids because the leaves can be laid out on a table in many different, creative patterns. I dry leaves flat and others I hang on a clothes drying rack.

Comfrey leaves are spongy and contain many healing constituents such as allantoin, a nitrogenous crystalline substance, which is a cell proliferant- meaning it encourages rapid cell growth and the speed at which a wound heals. I use it in the preparation of my Tulipan Calendula Salve which is great for soothing cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites, inflammation, bruises, chapped cheeks, lips, cuticles, cracked heals, and more.

A close look at the leaf can give you an indication of what it is good for. When I look at the leaf I see many interconnected cells, with strong walls, and firm stems, in a beautiful pattern. Check out its 'Doctrine of Signature'' in the photos.
See you tomorrow for another day in the garden. Garden is most always a verb.