All of the herbs in my gardens are lovingly tended with guidance from plant and spirit allies, using organic methods, and are harvested by hand. A few herbs are wild-crafted with integrity. Others are purchased from reliable organic sources. All of the herbal body-care products (including creams, salves, bath salts & soaps), herbal healthcare and wellness products (including tinctures & syrups), and herbal ceremonial products (including dream pillows, dried herbs and sweetgrass braids) are made by hand and in small batches, with an awareness of lunar and seasonal cycles. I am happy to custom blend teas and tinctures, even smoking blends, to your needs. I also carry books & other accessories, and dye clothing with colors I get from plant material.
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The center of my herb gardens is a 7-circuit labyrinth, a pattern sometimes called a Cretan labyrinth, for walking meditation. This ancient spiritual symbol is found in many cultures around the world. It's subtle energy is very centering and healing, and I believe that the healing energy of the labyrinth enhances the healing qualities of the herbs grown in and around it. I have read that the labyrinth pattern has a tendency to attract and focus underground streams of water, as well, which adds to the health of the garden! My observation has been that the plants which grow inside of the labyrinth have a powerful life force, often growing to quite amazing sizes. Every year, the Valerian grows to be 5 or 6 feet tall, and its flowers fill the garden with the most intoxicating aroma! It makes me think of the scene in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy & friends are cavorting through the poppy fields!
When you first approach the garden you will notice the large cedar trellis that leans against the house, covered with golden hops vines and a climbing rose. By the hottest part of the summer this forms a green wall that shades and cools one side of the front porch. The Lavender bed is at the feet of the hops. Purple Coneflower, or Echinacea, fills the bed at the very front of the garden. Sometimes we see a dozen goldfinches at a time in this bed!
On the right corner of the house, there are a couple of very old native laurels. These bloom much later than the rhododendrons we usually see in landscaped gardens. Under the laurels are Virginia Bluebells and True Solomon’s seal. Below the Japanese Cut leaf Maple trees is a carpet of Siberian Scilla that blooms blue in March and April each year. We’ve put in a native Redbud and are hoping to have the first blooms this year.
Follow the stepping stone path around the right side of the house and you will pass a mass of Elderberry bushes against the house, with Celandine Poppies growing underneath. Motherwort, Nettles, Comfrey and Black Cohosh grow outside the compost fence.
Enter the back garden through the gate and onto the new patio. Feel free to sit and rock gently on the swing, which is original to the house! The swing is covered with honeysuckle and clematis vines, and sits in the shade of an old - perhaps 200 years - and beloved Oak tree.
The Cretan-style, seven-circuit labyrinth occupies a large section of the back garden, and is meant for meditative walking. A labyrinth differs from a maze, in that there is no puzzle, no trick to a labyrinth. It is one continuous path winding its way mysteriously from the entrance to the center, and back out again. The walking paths are mulched, and the lines or “walls” are “drawn” with herbs, river stones, and bricks we saved from the old patio. You'll find Elecampane, Wood Betony, Agrimony, Pulmonaria, Cranesbill, and Skullcap. You are welcome to walk the labyrinth, which can be a metaphorical journey, or a way of quieting yourself in the midst of a busy world. At the center of the labyrinth is a sculpture by artist Jo Israelson, entitled Omphalos.
Large beds filled with old-fashioned plants including Bee Balm, Soapwort, Motherwort, Sweet Cicely, Feverfew, Lady's Mantle, Valerian, MORE Pulmonaria, Violets, Mugwort and even Monkshood surround the labyrinth.
At the very back of the garden are Apothecary roses, garlic, cinquefoil, poppies, Siberian Iris, Calendula, a large Vitex bush, a lilac and a peace pole. The peace pole was a handmade gift from a friend, and it has "Peace on Earth" painted on it in four different languages. Several benches are scattered throughout the garden, where you are welcome to sit and rest.
The garden shed and playhouse are also open for your exploration. Delicate Wood Asters, Anise Hyssop, Wormwood and Feverfew are some of the herbs in the beds outside the playhouse door. Behind the shed are a row of Winterberry bushes, and Brunerra or false forget-me-nots, with their beautiful heart-shaped leaves, blanket the ground in front of them.
You are welcome to visit the gardens whenever you are in Lancaster County, but because they are part of my home, I ask that you contact me to make arrangements before visiting. You can email me or telephone between 10am & 5pm EST during the week.