Feeling better… Loving the bits of sun and rain… Borage is in full bloom. Week 24 is here – read below and let me know how your week was in the garden.
Missed some of Plants 365 and want to catch up? I recommend starting from the beginning with week 1.
Hi! I’m Jenn – botanist, CEO, potty mouth.
This is my “plant diary”, where every day for the entire year I will log my experience with plants. I’m not sure what that’s actually going to look like, but it doesn’t really matter – I just want to talk plants.
But first, here’s a little context about me: I fucking love Champagne. I don’t really like reading fiction but can digest it in the podcast form. I listen, read and observe a lot. I happily overeat carbs. I call myself a botanist because I have been a professional (as in, I pay my bills by) horticulturist for the past 15 years. The past 4+ years I have been researching plants with indigenous Mayan and Garifuna cultures in Belize – mostly focusing on organically farmed Cacao theobroma and jungle-grown Yam root. This means lots of time spent working on family farms, lots of jungle hikes, lots of eating weird things and even a bot fly in the arm (I dare you to google bot fly). Vanilla planifolia and Crocus sativus are my jam right now. My hands-on background is florals, farming, herbalism, horticulture and jungle growth. I’ve dabbled in greenhouse growing (3 years in community college, greenhouse management degree), grafting and stone work. I’d like to practice bonsai more. I’m terrible at grammar. I love holistic approaches, but loathe buzzwords and “internet experts”. I could spend less money on crystals. I should do more yoga. I am meditating more. I get angry at Terry Gross, but then fall back in love each week. Reality TV shows are a must. Woodford on the rocks with a twist and a cherry. Hip hop keeps me human. Kale is king.
Why write this? Because I want to remember and reflect on the time I spend with plants.
Ok. Here we go.
Thursday, June 11th 2015 – HMB, Montara
A gorgeous foggy, misty morning in Montara. A lovely breakfast date with A at the cafe over looking the ocean and Cypress trees. It reminds me of how sweet Montara is… I just adore the mellow fog and cool temperature.
Welp. Now it’s 2pm and the sun is out… I meant to go harvest some Cypress, Artimesia and Lavender at my farm today, but it’s too warm now. I’ll have to get up early tomorrow and harvest before the sun gets warm. I am going to dry and wrap them for smudge sticks for the shop. There’s nothing as sweet smelling like harvesting fresh, native plants on a foggy day.
Friday, June 12th 2015 – HMB
I bought a horse trough from the feed shop, filled it with soil and planted it full. Beans, peas, shallots, tomatoes, sunflowers cucumber, delicate squash and lettuce. It’s going to be packed and delicious.
I have been missing the days when I used to farm… Well, mostly missing it. I remember feeling so weird shopping for veggies at the grocery store once I stopped farming full time. My little trough is a start to getting back to my veggie growing… But I still miss driving a crawler on foggy days.
Saturday, June 13th 2015 – HMB, San Mateo
Malia’s 5th birthday! I remember when she was born… I was rushing to the hospital, but spent about 5 minutes watering my (at the time) no-mow fescue grass. How terrible – huh?! Watering before the hospital! Anyway, as I was watering, I saw a bright blue robin’s egg in the middle of the lawn. It was a tiny sign that Malia was on her way (and I needed to get my ass over there).
Sunday, June 14th 2015 – HMB
The Aeonium holds my wine glass perfectly!
I’m a quarter of the way through an herbalism certification course, the first course I’ve ever taken that I actually LOVE. I don’t remember the last time I dedicated time to sit and study something… For the past few days I have been using Rosemary for helping to alleviate depression. The last couple weeks with the dogs has given me a what-the-fuck-is-going-on-with-life depressed attitude, and the academy was highlighting the use of Rosemary as an anti-depressant. Twice a day I pick about a half inch sprig and roll it around my hands for 5 minutes. 5 minutes gives a lot of oil, especially once your hands warm up. I smell my hands and the bruised fresh Rosemary sprig, inhaling deeply. Then I pick two 3-4 inch sprigs and infuse them in a light tea with warm water. I drink about 24 – 48 ounces of the tea from 8am – 2pm. I felt more present right away, as scent tends to do. Rosemary is a diarrhetic so it made me have to pee about 20 times a day! I do feel better though… It’s nice to use an herb that is so easy to grow, readily available and comforting in scent. It took me a second to get over the taste in a tea, as I’m used to it in something savory, like meat. But it’s nice when brewed lightly or mixed with something like a Peppermint.
Monday, June 15th 2015 – HMB
Inspired by my new studies, today around noon I brought out all my big mason jars to the garden. It was warm (for June in Half Moon Bay) and I wanted to get into the Summer seasonal energy. Working in Belize at all times of the year has messed up my inner seasons a bit – plus the drought and lack of rain in the Winter has left me feeling wonky. This Summer I am committed to being in Summer! Lighter foods, longer days, beer instead of red wine and naked time in the garden.
Any way, I filled up the jars with water and went around the garden plucking whatever was fresh, in bloom and vibrant. I made a sun tea with Chives, Rose petals, Rosemary, Lavender, Peppermint, Viola flowers and Lemon Verbena leaves. I left the jars out on my freshly planted trough, where the soil was still warm from the midday’s sun.
Come 8pm, I realized I still left the jars outside on the dirt… Too lazy to bring them inside, I grabbed them first thing in the morning and sipped the floral decoction. Patootie and Whiskey ran around my feet and jumped up on my legs, spilling the tea on my face when went to take a sip. It felt nice.
Tuesday, June 16th 2015 – HMB
Today I noticed I’m getting back into my Summer sleep schedule. For some reason, I tend to need more sleep then in the Winter, which seems a little backwards. I always need to sleep in in the Summer… Waking up at 6:30am seems really wrong. 8:30am makes much more sense – but that’s too late for my work schedule, so I meet in the middle at about 7:30am.
Today I got up and drove to the Dean’s house to take pictures. The garden is amazing right now! The Cerinthe is in full bloom, along with the Love-in-a-mist, the David Austin Roses, the Lavender ‘Munstead’, ‘Iceburg’ Roses, the Chocolate Cosmos and Forget-me-knots. Now that things are in bloom, I see the spots that I could have designed better… But it really is a riot of color. It’s so lovely right now…
It really is a blessing for me to be in this garden. For this moment of time, I have made an imprint on the world, and it is beautiful. It’s so rare to have a client who quite literally lets me do a n y t h i n g in the garden. It’s not about the money (although the that helps) or the “design” – fuck the design. It’s about cultivating the soil so that the plants are happy and blooming. The saltly sea wind is so close it kisses the Roses every morning and gives the Mint a unique taste. If we haven’t come in a few weeks to cultivate (by hand – yep, we cultivate the soil by hand twice month. Dreamy.), I can see the white salt reminents on the top of the crusty clay soil.
Wednesday, June 17th 2015 – HMB
I have been feeling better lately. I don’t know if it’s the millions of dollars of therapy (Body Talk, acupuncture, etc.), the exercise, or the Rosemary – but I don’t want to jump off a cliff this week. Victory.
I’m still shuffling through pictures of Sprout and Lucky and remembering how they (mostly Sprout) smelled, felt, sounded.
Sprout smelled so good, like that smell of someone you love. That smell you notice when you are first dating someone and first have sex with them and then realize you cannot live without that smell. Being so in love with another’s scent is intoxicating… I desperately miss her scent. In the mornings she smelled warm and sweet with a hint of sour. That forgiving sour smell from someone you love that isn’t quite clean and you wouldn’t have it any other way.
I would gently rub her head while she woke up, and she’s mostly lie there in gentle tranquility. In the afternoon she’d barge in the house and smelled dusty and oily – that sour scent came to the surface. A day of lying on the lounge chairs in the garden, rolling in chicken shit and rubbing herself on dried dead worms that would be stuck to the concrete driveway. At night, when we were lying on the couch, I’d forget of the filth she liked to roll in and cuddle her while reading or writing or watching reality TV. We’d lay and our scents would commingle; sour, sweet, dusty, floral, warm and salty. Sometimes I would spray my Lavender mist on her for a good night’s sleep. The mist melted in with her unique smell and lasted only for a second, then fading into a dull Lavender.
Fuck past-tense. I miss my dog.