Nature is a gift for us that should never be taken for granted.

  There are those of us that appreciate it more than others.  It is for those of us that adore a beautiful garden that I write this article.

a l l  n a t u r a l  i n f o

Ideas for the Garden of your Dreams

by Sharon Houghton

 

     It's that time of year again...Spring, when nature goes through its renewal cycle of life.  If left to its own devices, everything would be green, and everything would be natural.  But one of the wonderful things about nature is that we have the ability to harness it into a place of our very own... our "garden".

     Gardening is not for everyone, it takes time, energy, planning and patience.  But to those of us that have what it takes, it is a pure joy that has immeasurable rewards!  A beautiful garden should be thought of as part practicality, and part art.  A well thought out garden will be a place that you will always enjoy being, and a place that provides you with nourishment... mentally, physically and spiritually.

Advanced Planning

     Planning for your garden can be done either on paper or in your head.  But this is an important step because in some areas, seeds need to be started inside several weeks before they can be planted outside.  If you live in a warm climate where it doesn't freeze, you don't need to worry about that.  In fact, you might not even know what I'm talking about when I talk about the renewal of nature in Spring!  But bare with me, you'll still get something out of all this. 

     For those of you that lead by intuition and inspiration, you will want to just head straight to the nursery to find plants that excite you.  That's fine, but before you go and start grabbing anything that catches your eye, sit down (or even lay down) and envision exactly what your perfect garden will look like, smell like, and taste like.  Think of all of the ways that your garden will be useful to you as well.

     We used to only think of a garden for food and visual pleasure.  Now that you're learning about all-natural beauty, think about how you can use the herbs and flowers to make your own beauty and healthcare products.    We have many all-natural beauty remedies and recipes right on this site that can be helpful for you to consider when planning your garden.  Perhaps you'll have an herb garden that is separate from your flower garden.  Read and learn about herbs and their uses regularly.  It's an ongoing study that will enrich your life, I assure you. 

     Another thing to consider when planning your garden is scent.  What are your favorite scents?  Jasmine, Rose, Gardenia?  If these are the scents that make you feel happy, plant them!  Do you know how much it would cost to be able to purchase the essential oils made of these flowers?  Hundreds of dollars an ounce!  Yet you can have the plant that they come from for a fraction of the cost, and be able to smell them every day.

    Visualize the appearance of your perfect garden.  Do you want multi-colored flowers?  Would you like to have the whole garden be in hues of whites and pinks?  Perhaps one area of the garden could be bright reds and oranges while another is in pastel blues, purples and pinks.  Your garden can be your canvas if you do some creative planning.  Also, you'll want to keep in mind that some plants flower for a short period of time, while others bloom  throughout most of the

growing season.  These are just some of the important things that you'll have to keep in mind while planning the garden of your dreams.

      Buy a good book (or several) that tells you how to prepare the soil for each of them.  In other words, find out how to nourish them with the proper plant food and soil amendments to maintain their foliage and blooming life properly.  Learn how to prune them and maintain their growing patterns.  You'll need to know where to plant them as well.  Each plant will have its own requirements for a proper environment (shady, sunny, wind-free etc..).  This information will be in your gardening books, as well as listed on the plant marker when you go to the nursery.  If these things are not listed on the marker, ask someone at the nursery.  More than likely, they will be very happy to share a lot of great information with you.  Once you learn the basic needs of each plant that you intend to grow you'll be set to enjoy them right through the season! 

     While you are in the planning phase (for left brainers this means pencil in hand, for right brainers this means eyes closed, flat on back)  imagine yourself walking up to your front door, or coming out your back door into your garden.  What is the first scent that you want to reach out to you?  If it's the Jasmine, cover a trellis or railing with it right by the door.  Do you want to see humming birds and butterflies through your kitchen window?  Plant some Bee Balm, a Butterfly Bush, some heliotrope or perhaps some cosmos just below your view.     If you enjoy butterflies, there are several flowers that they love and will keep them happy in your garden.  Hummingbirds will come around for your red flowers, so if you want to invite them, just grow plenty of red flowers or offer them a hanging bird feeder especially made for them in a bright shade of red.

Are you getting inspired yet?

     Inspiration is the key to a great garden.  Lead by your senses and you can do no wrong.  That is unless you over-extend yourself.  Which one of us hasn't decided to plant too much, have a pond, a well, a gazebo, a foot bridge, a bird bath, and a few trellises only to find out that it just became overwhelming and took the fun right out of the whole thing?!  Know your limitations, and remember... a garden is something that doesn't need to be finished in one season or one year.  Plan for this season, yet see your options for the future.  Maybe the foot bridge can be put in next year.

     Like I said earlier, a beautiful garden should be thought of as part practicality, and part art.  It should also be a lot of fun.  The rewards you reap should far outweigh the effort and work that goes into it.  If it doesn't, then you've overextended yourself.  Learn to do the things that help you avoid unnecessary chores.  Mulching is a great idea to avoid laborious weeding.  That's where you cover the exposed areas with a substance to block out the sun,  so that it doesn't

shine on the plants that would naturally grow (weeds).  If you don't, seeds of all types will sprout and you'll be stuck pulling them out all season.

     Plan ways of getting into your beds so that you can easily step in for maintenance.  This can be done in attractive ways with good planning.  Stepping stones can be functional for this purpose as well as visually appealing.  Creating pathways made of stones are beautiful, once again, make sure to not leave spaces for the weeds to pop up by filling in between the stones with sand and gravel.

Go Organic

     Make a pledge to yourself that this year will be the year you go all-natural in the garden.  After all, what is the point of using all-natural products if they started their life with un-natural chemicals?  Learn what you need to know to keep harmful pests out of your garden.  Jeanne Rose's advice for deterring bugs and snails is to "place a ring of copper around the base of plants.  Also, a natural pest repellant formula is 1 T soap, 1 quart water, several squeezed garlic cloves.  Put in a sprayer with big holes (or it will get clogged by the Garlic).  Spray every day or so."

      All garden pests, whether they be fungus, snails or deer can be deterred by bringing some type of substance or physical barrier that they don't like, or can't get around.  There are answers to these problems besides the use of harmful chemicals and traps.  Our ancestors have been dealing with these issues long before the invention of the spray can.  You'll just need to do some investigating.  There is a lot of great information on this subject.  Just knowing which plants to grow next to

which other plants will help to deter certain pests and problems.  Again, a great place for information is from your local nursery.  Plants are their business, and they are the most familiar with the pests in your area.  Just remember, if you have beautiful plants, there will be invaders that want what you've provided.  It's a natural course of events.   But please believe me when I say... there are natural alternatives to keep them out.

Herbal Ideas

     So you want to grow your own beauty products this year, huh?  I'll be the first to tell you that it's a great idea!  Living in this one-stop-shopping world has created somewhat of a barrier to nature.  So many people look at a beauty product and see the word "natural" or "nature" and buy it.  Why?  Because deep down they want to return to what is real.  But they've been programmed to reach for the bottle or jar instead of the actual plant.  By growing your own beauty herbs, you'll be using nature's pure bounty to beautify.   Using 100% phyto-nutrients instead of man's concocted chemical derivatives is obviously the healthiest way to be beautiful.  You'll notice the difference immediately, and things will only improve with continued use.

     Here are a few herbs that I would definitely recommend having in your garden for your beauty needs:

Aloe (Aloe Vera) - This is a plant that you should have in abundance.  And you will if you care for it properly.  By watering it just enough, but not too much, keeping it from getting too much sun, and giving it enough soil space, it will reward you with babies that will continue to grow and procreate.  Just dig up the main plant with the babies (new plants) once a year, and re-plant them separately.

     This is the most important plant to have when you have a sunburn, scrape, rash or sting.  It is soothing and cooling on contact and helps to reduce inflammation.  Just take off one of its lower leaves and open it up.  You'll see a gel-like substance.  This is the part that you'll want to rub on the affected area.  It works instantly.  Once you know the soothing, healing properties of this plant, you will never want it to be far from you.  Bring this plant inside for the cool winter months if you live in a freezing climate or it will not survive.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) - This is one of my favorite herbs!  The scent is intoxicating, and I love to plant this herb in several places around the garden so that I can smell it at every turn.  Rosemary is grouped into two types, the type that spreads sideways, and the type that grows straight up.  Make sure that you use the correct type in the area that you choose it for.  The spreading variety will work well in a hanging basket or in an area that you

want ground cover.  The upright growing type will work well in a pot or in the middle or back of a bed.

Hair loves Rosemary.  It's fresh clean scent is a natural for hair care.  It also has a reputation for keeping hair shiny and bright as well as fighting dandruff.  A rinse can be made out of the leaves by steeping them in hot water for at least 15 minutes until the herbal properties are left in the water.  Strain and pour the cooled mixture over clean hair at the end of your bath or shower.  Do not rinse it off.

 

Roman Chamomile (C. nobile) & German Chamomile (M. recutita)- Both varieties have virtually identical properties.  This apple-scented herb is so pretty in the garden with it's tiny almost daisy-like flowers.  Just as Rosemary has a spreading and upright type of growing pattern, Chamomile does as well.  The spreading version of this plant looks beautiful in-between stepping stones in a pathway, and the smell when brushed upon is a lovely treat. 

 

     Blond hair will shine with natural highlights when a Chamomile rinse is used upon it.  In fact, highlights will be brought out in brunette hair as well.  Make the rinse out of the flowers the same way as you would the Rosemary rinse.  Chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory and sedating properties, so a freshener for the skin is also a lovely way to use this beautiful herb.  You'll also appreciate having this herb when you want to make a relaxing tea that helps to aid digestion.

     There are a myriad of herbs to grow for beauty care needs.  Like I've said before, you can never have too many books about herbs on your shelf.  Start slowly and get to know each different herb at your own pace.  It's through nurturing them as they grow that you truly learn about them.  When they are used for your personal beauty and health needs, they will nurture you back.  What a beautiful relationship!

      Just remember... however your garden turns out this year, there's always next year to start again, to add more depth and different species and to try new gardening techniques.  It's a lifelong process of having fun and learning about nature in your own private space... your garden.    I wish you much success and many happy days!

 

 

 

 

 

All views expressed in the articles on the "All Natural Info" page are those of the various authors, they are presented here for your enjoyment and enlightenment.  These views do not necessarily represent the views of SharAmbrosia or the "all natural beauty" website. 

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