stepping stones leading into the  garden

freshly uncovered stepping stones in the garden

Have you ever felt a little unsure about your direction in life, or just a little clouded?

When I notice this happening and things are not going quite as expected, I know it is time for a little soul searching, and I also start to look around my living situation. The outer environment often echoes our inner state and can give us clues as to how to remedy the malaise.

Summer is my busy time, and unfortunately I have to be selective about the areas I maintain around the house and garden (so I don’t feel like I am being pulled in many directions simultaneously). Yet things had gotten a little wild in the garden, to the point of having to fight my way out the back door to enter my sanctuary. So, when I went outside this morning and was enjoying the lush growth, I realized I had a clue to the vague thought of ‘where is all this going?’. I had let my garden path become completely overgrown. Wonderful! It can be just that literal, and funny too.

Once I had galvanized into action, with the inspiration that I had the power to change things and take matters into my own hands, it only took about an hour to clear copious amounts of green. Walking proudly on the newly uncovered stepping stones, I was reminded that it is not possible to know exactly how things will turn out, but there is much joy to knowing where your feet are right now and reflecting on the milestones that got you there.

While I was clearing the path I noticed a predominance of certain plants, each with their own characteristics and healing qualities, soothing mallow, pain relieving willow and wild lettuce, crowding and insistent sticker grass. Perhaps here, there are indications of qualities I may need to incorporate within myself to create more balance, or aspects that need attention and healing. Our lives are constantly talking to us and answers to our questions can sometimes be hidden in plain view.

So go ahead, look around, I completely support you in clearing under the couch, unpacking the box, or de-cluttering ‘that’ corner, in your journey towards clarity. Good luck!

Comfrey close up with purple flowers in the garden

Comfrey

The comfrey is huge and gorgeous this year, it has loved the abundant rains we have had. It is one of the grandmother herbs in my garden, the plants that come back and flourish each summer season.

This plant was given to me by a friend as a small cutting when I first started my garden and it has grown progressively each year, as she warned me it would, in the shade of a willow hedge, till now ‘she’ holds court in this corner of the garden.

As the famous 17th century herbalist and physician Culpepper observed,

“They grow by ditches and water sides, and in divers fields that are moist, for therein they chiefly delight to grow. This is an herb of Saturn and I suppose under the sign of capricorn, cold, dry and earthy in quality.”

Comfrey’s botanical name is Symphytum officinale, derived from the Greek word symphyo meaning to unite, or to heal, and it’s hard to argue with that! Bruises, sprains, skin ulcers, joint inflammation, and various internal conditions can be helped with preparations of anti-inflammatory comfrey. It has been used for centuries as a remedy to heal broken bones, one of its common names being knitbone.

My main focus when using this versatile herb is for the skin. I employ comfrey extract in many of my products as it is wonderful for strengthening and renewing the tissues of the skin. It contains a generous amount of the compound allantoin, which is known to encourage the proliferation of healthy new skin cells, making it a worthy wound healer, also regenerating and creating increased elasticity, therefore helpful in maintaining a youthful complexion. I say yes to that, natural skin assistance!

You can find comfrey and or allantoin in my Hibiscus and Argan Enriched Face Cream, Moisturizing Hand & Body Lotion, Zinc Enhanced Face Cream and Herbal Healing Lip Balm at nurturessence.com

chamomile plant in garden with hand holding a pendulum

chamomile plant with pendulum

Ahh, dirt under my fingernails, so satisfying! While perhaps not socially acceptable in some circles, it is evidence of my recent handiwork, and surveying the freshly planted flowers and herbs dotted through my garden beds, brings a distinct rush of pleasure.

Finding the correct position for each plant in the already crowded beds takes a little extra time, but it feels so much better to be co-creative in this task and ask the plant itself, not just relying on my analytical judgement.

To help me tune in, I use a pendulum, and ask yes or no questions to determine whether the plant will get its needs met and if there is harmony in the potential placement. While this is less than scientific and perhaps my own opinions will sneak in from time to time, I feel this process aligns me ever closer to being able to ‘hear’ the plants directly, and work in unison with nature, rather than imposing my will upon it. Always a work in progress.

I would love to hear of your experiences in this realm, have you chatted with a  plant today?

calendula flower in garden with pendulum

calendula flower with pendulum

cilantro plant growing between paving stones outside garden bed

cilantro growing between paving stones

Literally living outside the box, these plant renegades are survivors!

While being a less than immaculate gardener, there are many gifts in allowing nature to take its own course. So ignoring the copious weeds for a moment I’ll focus on the wonder of volunteer plants popping up in unexpected places and thriving.

I didn’t think to plant any cilantro this year. I know, a grave oversight on my part, but voila, I have one growing out of the pavement! Curious and wonderful. Thank you mother nature for this  perfection.

Perhaps too a reminder, we can dare to be different. The difference that is truth to ourselves.

motherwort growing between paving stones outside of garden bed

Motherwort

bright orange calendula flower in the garden

calendula flower

The moon is in the right phase and it’s a good time to sow flower seeds. I immediately think of calendula. I look forward to seeing its bright face in the garden as the days grow consistently warmer.

calendula seeds on a wooden surface

calendula seeds

Radiating sun energy, openhearted calendula offers healing to all. Excellent for topical conditions such as wounds, burns, stings and rashes, it soothes and calms most skin irritations. It is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti fungal and astringent. Rich in flavonoids, with an antioxidant effect, calendula can help to combat free radical damage, and the presence of oleanolic acid contributes to its skin soothing properties, to name just a few  of its many attributes.

close up of brightly colored calendula flowers infused in a jar of oil

Calendula flowers infused in oil

Oil infused with calendula has a rich golden glow, and is a wonderful addition to balms for the skin. I use it in my herbal healing lip balm, and have plans to develop some new products this year, a general purpose healing balm and an after-sun soothing lotion. It’s always fun to work with this generous healer.

I will post part two, about calendula flower essence in the near future.

Part of the fun of making lip balm is getting to use delicious smelling beeswax. It smells like summer, honey from flowers and sunshine. Especially organic beeswax that comes from local beekeepers grampa’s honey, so minimally processed you can almost hear the bees, this is powerful stuff! It’s rich golden color comes from the propolis and bee pollen content which also provides nutrient benefits. Bees wax also has a protective quality that helps to lock in moisture and create a barrier for the skin from the elements. Something I value in the extremes of weather here in Taos!

local organic beeswax

local organic beeswax

local organic beeswax

local organic beeswax

One of my favorite memories of traveling in Europe is of buying fresh tomatoes, olives and local cheeses at farmers markets in small towns. The colorful displays of fruit and vegetables, the taste and texture of fresh food greatly enriching my experience and helping me to feel a little closer to the daily life of people in a different culture half way across the world.

The Plaza at the center of Taos comes alive in the early morning each Saturday in the summer, as we set up our tents and put our wares on display for our own Taos Farmers Market. It is wonderful to be a part of this community of farmers and artisans, who work with animals, plants and ingredients we have lovingly raised or grown ourselves.

Nurturessence Natural Skincare table at Taos Farmers Market

Nurturessence Natural Skincare, my table at Taos Farmers Market

The early morning quiet gives way as the musicians arrive, and people begin to filter in as the day warms up. A cross section of our community gathered together, it’s a little like a Carnival, a Saturday morning party.

People have a chance to catch up with friends and neighbors, families relaxing together and buying fresh, vibrant food for their table and healthy skin food for their bodies. I am grateful to be here, enjoying the lovely people and sharing my skincare with Taos.

See you at the Market on Saturday!

Des Montes Dahlias, gorgeous, colorful flower stand at Taos Farmers Market

Des Montes Dahlias, a gorgeous flower stand at Taos Farmers Market

Musicians at Taos Farmers Market

Musicians at Taos Farmers Market liven the atmosphere