My sanctuary is my garden.
Life can be hard, busy and serious, especially with all the heartbreaking news circulating around the world at the moment. For me, it easily becomes overwhelming.
The garden and the flowers allow me a chance to escape and to focus on nature and being a guardian of our little patch of land.
I love working with botanicals and flowers and they give me an outlet that inspires creativity and I feel lighter, happier and calmer because of it.
It’s been a while since I last shared an update on how we are going with turning our backyard into a more potager style garden.
It was this time last year when we bit the bullet and completely removed all the lawn in our backyard and started laying out a pattern of how we envisioned our garden to become.
Here’s a pic from April last year with the brickwork laid out.
I’m pleased to say we have made a bit of progress. We are not finished yet and still have quite a bit to do but we’ve been able to tick a few tasks off our ‘to-do’ list.
Our design (which we scratched out on paper ourselves) has circular raised gardens that consists of a centre circle garden and 4 semi-circle garden beds around this. I love to bring a deeper meaning to areas of my garden and so these 4 semi-circles will represent the four directions + elements … north/fire, south/earth, east/air and west/water. I have slightly changed the representation of these elements to suit our Southern Hemisphere .
The plants I choose to grow in each raised bed will support each of these elements in some way, whether it is their colour, therapeutic use or symbolic meaning.
There is also another raised garden which is in a key-hole design which I am dedicating to flowers and herbs that are calming and support our nervous system.
I’ve also other areas of garden that will be dedicated to homing rows of flowers for me to play with as well as supporting the pollinators etc.
Here’s some photos of our progress so far …
Centre Circular Garden Bed
This bed will mainly have plantings for herbal teas and culinary use. Also veggies we can quickly dash out to harvest.
You can see the last of the tomatoes plus tulsi basil, anise hyssop, zucchinis, and lemon balm. I currently have angelica (holy ghost) and to the right the beautiful big Pineapple Sage with her bright red flowers. The bees love her and her leaves are great in a herbal tea blend that helps balance the nervous system.
East Semi-Circle Garden Bed
This garden will represent the power of the sun, protection, focus and clarity of the mind, plus new beginnings. The colour is yellow. The element is air.
At the moment it is filled with marigolds and didiscus flowers plus bee balm on the left. Bee balm’s leaves are really helpful at supporting the immune system, clearing the head and soothing sore throats and colds. Plus she has striking light purple flowers that the bees love.
I am planning next season’s plantings which will be more bee balm, plus calendula, yellow statice, lemon grass, beautiful safflowers plus carrots planted throughout.
South Semi-Circle Garden Bed
This garden represents knowledge, strength, wisdom, grounding and quiet. The colours are deep greens and browns. The element is earth.
You can see I currently have plantings of Mrs Burns Basil, echinacea, sage, rosemary, valerian, gomphrena, yarrow and feverfew.
I will be keeping rosemary, sage, echinacea, valerian and feverfew and will be adding potatoes and thyme.
West Semi-Circle Garden Bed
This garden will represent the heart, emotions, intuition, spirituality, and dreaming. The colour is blue. The element is water.
The garden is still under development but when it’s ready I will be planting borage, blue cornflowers, tulips, bupleurum, anemone, sweet peas, kale and eggplants.
North Semi-Circle Garden Bed
This garden will represent imagination, faerie realm, and transformation. The colour is red. The element is fire.
The garden is also under development and when it’s ready I hope to plant Mexican sunflowers (the monarch’s love this!), aquilegia, burgundy celosia, beetroot, cherry-baby rudbeckia, anemone, angelica gigas along with self heal amongst the plantings.
Keyhole Garden Bed
This garden is all about the nervous system with herbs that soothe emotions and encourage rest. I will also plant flowers whose colours uplift and inspire.
The garden bed is looking a little bare as I have just removed the German chamomile and sweet peas which had a great season. At the moment I have rose geranium, vervain, camellia sinensis, lavender, tulsi basil, valerian, feverfew and a little self sown borage.
For next season I will be adding clary sage, lemon balm, mint, zinnias (zinderella variety), more lavender and re-sow more German chamomile + tulsi basil.
Back Flower Bed Rows
These are at the back of the above picture just in front of the cottage and they are still in development. I have planted some flowers which are doing well and have just sown some Iceland poppies plus ammi majus. The little pink, white + purple flower blooms you can see low down are gomphrena which I’m growing for dried flowers. In the middle of the back row beds I have a young elder tree getting established, I can’t wait for her flowers and berries for medicine.
In the other bed to the side I’ve also had lots of beautiful zinnias, cosmos, strawflowers and dahlias filling up this area.
Next season I hope to plant more sweet peas (because I love these) and Queen Anne’s Lace for pollinators and drying.
Other Areas of the Garden
I also have a wild area at the back of our section that I want to trial leaving for the small wildlife. It’s a semi-shady area that also houses our compost stalls. This area contains lots of medicinal ‘weeds’ including dandelions and yarrow. But I would also like to plant kawakawa for medicine and some grasses which I can dry for arrangements.
We also have 3 beds dedicated to lavender and planted with both English and ‘grosso’ lavender varieties. We harvest these each season to put through our alembic still to create the gentle healing hydrosol plus I pick the lavender blossom to infuse in oils and use in our Chickweed Apothecary products.
There is also a patch of dainty sweet violet that I grow to infuse in oil to use in our Violet Infused Cleanse, and we also grow the lemon balm to create a calming hydrosol which is used in our Lavender + Lemon Balm Botanical Face Mist.
There are other smaller garden areas dotted about but these are the main ones that we’ve been working on the most.
Our gardening knowledge and journey is definitely at the beginner’s level but I love learning how to grow and look after our plants and then harvesting and creating with them at the end. I love that each plant has a purpose whether it is for pollinators, food, medicine, Chickweed Apothecary products or because it makes us happy and fills the garden with colour.
Our garden project will keep continuing and we hope by the end of next season the physical setup of the garden will be completed . Moving forward into autumn and winter we will work on replenishing the soil with cover crops and lots of compost, finishing the other garden beds and sowing the hardy annuals.
I am really excited to see our backyard dream slowly come together and I hope to keep sharing updates as we go along.