Hosting a recent garden club tour, through the gardens at the soap house, folks would point and ask, "What's this?" or, "What's that?" And repeatedly we would tell them the Latin name and then counter with the common plant name. The response would unanimously be, “But that's a weed!” We commonly incorporate “weeds,” or to endear the term “natives,” in our flower and vegetable gardens.
We incorporate a wide variety of botanicals in our products. It is crucial to harvest at the proper time ensuring the full therapeutic value is achieved. Out of necessity and practicality, we have moved the meadows to our sunny gardens and the woodlands to our shady ones.
Flowers, plants, and vegetables surround us at the soap house. Seeing them on a daily basis we can harvest them at just the proper moment. We think gardens should invoke adventure and a
stroll through our gardens would go something like this:
Leaving the lawn, a stone step up, walking a fragrant path of Thyme, woven with Toad Flax, then you would step down into the Salvia Garden. There Sages number 15 to 20 varieties, many medicinal and loved as much by us as by the butterflies that come to visit. To your right would be the Lavenders in many hues of blue, purple, pink and white. Preceding the lavender flowers and planted by droppings from the birds, is a sea of red poppies. Just a slight breeze and you have a stage set for dancing ballerinas. Surrounding the Sages and Lavenders are the old Rugosa and Damask roses. A few steps forward and you would find a stately line up of Mullein. Their fuzzy blue/green leaves and tall spikes of yellow rose like flowers put us in a mind of Soldiers guarding the garden. These flowers over a long period, but must be harvested every day as the flowers only last a day.
To the south, you would see the Water Garden. A host to Water Iris, Lilies, Lotus, lots of fish, frogs, tadpoles, and yes the occasional snake. Even a turtle may fall in to be rescued by us. Cascading over the stone walls are Honey Suckles with bright yellow tubular fans, accompanied by Jasmine and Poppy Mallow. Tucked into the stones you'd find Columbines and Flax. The Water Garden is a favorite spot for Dragon Flies, Butterflies and a wide variety of Birds. The Mints, Sweet Grass and Orris Iris flank the northern boarder. Did you know that Iris means rainbow?
Going west you would come upon a small vegetable garden interspersed with Culinary Herbs, Sweet Peas Dye Plants, Poke, Calendula and Chamomile. Across the drive is a large Herb garden devoted to medicinal herbs. Down the drive you would see the restored “hundred year old” barn. Along the east wall is a cedar trellis laden with the beautiful Alchemist Rose, Purple Phlox (locally grown for generations), Meadowsweet towering overall with its pink cotton candy like plumes, Joe Pie Weed and Day Lilies. There is Bittersweet crawling up an old door and a Fig Tree offering a reprieve from the afternoon sun. On the opposite side of the drive you'd see a large Arbor constructed out of Hedge or Osage Orange. Rambling up and over the Arbor are Hops, Grapes and Gourds.
Facing the south and turning east is the Old Apple Tree Garden. The ground is a blanket of purple blooming Nepeta (catmint), a lovely under planting for the old world roses. Continuing east, towering over the shade gardens, stands a White Oak tree, the girth of which three people holding hands could reach around. These gardens are host to Ferns, Gingers, Snake Root, Lupines, Cohosh, Angelica, Violets, Goldenseal, Elderberry and an endless variety of native plants.
All of the gardens are surrounded by a meadow rich with native plants and grasses which we harvest through out the season. The Garden Club folks weren't too tired after their tour, as there were so many breathtakingly beautiful sights, they had paused many times to revel at how perfect nature can be. And yes, their comments were, “These weeds are beautiful in a garden theme.” For what's a weed . . . . . but a flower awaiting discovery.