I found a secret garden. It was there all along, hiding in plain sight beneath the brambles and waist-high grasses.
I felt like Mary Lennox as I pulled aside weeds to discover living treasures emerging from a moist earth. Each new find brought a fresh wave of joy – an antique rose bush here, feathery fronds of fennel there, a tiny lavender sighing in relief.
The picket fence surrounding Peter Burr Farm‘s colonial garden was almost obscured by wild brier and useful weeds commonly found in hedgerows or alongside foundation stone – ground ivy, cat mint, greater celendine, chickweed, cleavers – all tangled together in between grasses nearly three feet high.
The inside of the garden was equally overgrown, except for a small area by the entrance gate. I learned this progress was due to the valiant effort of just one person in a single-handed attempt to bring order back into the historic garden.
Quite the daunting task.
So I did what any self-respecting herbalist and veteran gardener would do. I volunteered.
As did my husband, Doug. Who is only too happy (translation: minor grumbling) to join me in whatever current scheme I have devised for the day.
We make a pretty good team.
First I harvested some of the “weeds” that would have to be tamed, namely ground ivy and greater celendine. I’ve been wanting to experiment with the medicinal qualities of these two herbs for a while.
And then it was time to do some serious weeding.
While Doug concentrated on weed-wacking the outside fence, I went to work pulling weeds from the gravel walkways and border edges of the raised beds. We worked steadily for nearly two hours until the humidity and heat reached a whopping 95 degrees.
I would have liked to keep going, but Doug took one look at my reddened face and wisely called it, lest I drop of heat stroke.
Still, I’m pretty happy with the progress we made.
Since then, I’ve set my herbs to dry and brew — all destined to become tea, ointment, and tincture.
The temperatures have now dropped to a cool seventy degrees – but the forecast calls for almost a week of rain.
Again I feel like Mary Lennox, glumly looking out my window and wishing myself back to the secret garden.