Last week I wrote about some of the (socially distanced) day trips I had been taking this summer. This week I am going to focus on the trip I took to Lochland Botanicals in Milton.
I am a firm believer in the healing power of nature and of gardening. Lochland Botanicals combines both for a unique experience.
The flower farm boasts a wide variety of flowers including calendula, bachelor’s buttons, asters, love lies bleeding, and baby’s breath. There are an impressive amount of herbs—including winter savoury, cilantro, stevia, thyme, and a whole whack of mint varieties—that you can actually sample while you are browsing the offerings. There is also a distillery, where hydrosols instead of essential oils were being distilled. Much as I love essential oils, I am concerned about the viability of our essential oil habit in North America, and so I am intrigued about the use of hydrosols instead. This is a subject I am going to delve into more deeply.
There is an option to “build a bouquet” and take home some of the flowers and/or herbs you admire while you are there. Right now the sunflowers are one of the stars, and I spent a long time in the field.
What trekking have you been up to? I’d love to hear about it.
It’s hard to believe that I graduated 20 years ago with my diploma in horticultural technology. I did work in a greenhouse for over two years after graduating, but life had other plans for me. Instead of continuing in the industry, I got married, relocated, did some teaching for a while, then some writing, had a baby, became the primary caregiver of my father…After my father passed away, we decided to buy out the rest of my siblings and settle down more permanently in my parents’ house. Along with the house we inherited my parents’ garden. Although I had been trying to gradually revamp the garden over the years, it’s become somewhat overgrown. OK, in some areas it could be considered to be jungle like. I have told people that the chaos of our property reflected the chaotic nature of my life over the years of caregiving. But there’s also something else going on. My thesis in college was on xeriscaping, also called water wise gardening. I am not too fond of plants that are big water suckers. I’m not talking about the plants you grow for food. I mean other culprits like some grasses and many flowering annuals. So I always took a hands off approach: whatever wanted to establish itself naturally on my property, I figured was what was most suited for my property. I didn’t have to invest a lot of time and energy and especially water in their care. Though this might be true, there is a challenge with this philosophy. There are many plants that will take advantage of this way of thinking. Those are generally the invasive and non native plants that reproduce quickly and tend to overtake those that are less aggressive. So, if I want my wild strawberries to thrive, much as I love my forget-me-nots, I realize that I will have to cull some of the flowers and let them flourish in non wild strawberry plant areas instead. I will never get rid of the wildness of my property totally. But I don’t want to become overwhelmed with it either. Balance is key. My teachers at college always told us that we need to “use it or lose it”. That is, if we didn’t use the knowledge we learned we wouldn’t remember it. I can confirm that this is very true. In many respects, I feel that I am starting from the beginning again. But beginner’s mind isn’t always a bad thing. My current jam is the app called Seek by iNaturalist. (I like it better than iNaturalist itself.) You can take a picture and fairly soon it will identify what plant you have in your garden. It will also identify animals and even insect damage. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but no technology is perfect. Still, I have made so many fascinating discoveries. This morning, for example, I discovered I have something called “enchanted nightshade” behind my shed. It’s probably not the sort of nightshade you know, but a rather more innocent variety. I was always interested in the healing nature of plants, which is something that I never studied at college, so I am learning about that aspect. I have discovered that I do have healing plants like motherwort in my garden. I am also striving to be more conscious of what is native to my area. I was gifted some perennials that are native, which I have planted. My foamflower has already bloomed!
One of the books I am learning from is “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I love this philosophy: “…in Native ways of knowing, human people are often referred to as ‘the younger brothers of Creation.’ We say that humans have the least experience with how to live and thus the most to learn—we must look to our teachers among the other species for guidance…They’ve been on the earth far longer than we have been, and have had time to figure things out.” A garden—like life—is always a work in progress. It’s a great place to learn not only about nature, but also about yourself.