April has drawn to a close and we have had April Showers this season. I don't know the last time we had April Showers. Rain, but warm weather rising into the high sixties. Perfect for a comfortable drenching in the garden. A Spring Shower! Unfortunately, the few times I spent in the garden when it rained, it was too cool to get drenched. I sat on the porch at Hiddenbrooke and watched the torrential rain until I was chilled and then went inside for tea.
Hiddenbrooke Open Space Preserve is the brainchild of Shannon Murphy of Beacon Yoga. I met her when she was in the midst of releasing the space from the developer who at least wanted his commission from the City of Beacon when his project fell through. Shannon was my yoga instructor and promptly told me of her plans for Hiddenbrooke.
Hiddenbrooke is also the home of Carmelite Nuns who took over from Ursuline Nuns years ago. Shannon's Grandfather was the caretaker for the Ursuline Nuns and they gifted him twelve acres when they left. Shannon's idea was for a Wellness Center and I walked the property with her, an artist and a waterkeeper in 2010. Hiddenbrooke became an Open Space Preserve around 2012 and Shannon set her sights on her grandfather's old cottage for the Wellness Center. In 2016, she informed me it was time to plant the herb garden.
I had been growing in Wappinger at Obercreek for three years and was displaced in 2017, interestingly enough, felled by organic certification. There are no regulations for herbs, but an organic farm cannot have a third party on the property. But Spirit provides and Shannon invited me to move my garden to Hiddenbrooke five minutes from my apartment. And I can teach onsite as well. Spirit be praised!
I began my journey into the wilderness with walks throughout the area. I hiked Mt Beacon once a month for six months, Madame Brett in the coldest of Winters and jogged the icy path of the Frannie Reese Trail along the river. By 2011, with the recession looming and losing our home in the midst (having to move twice in two years) I still walked to yoga class in the dead of Winter. Not much choice because we lost our Subaru as well. 2011 was perfectly bittersweet. I consider it a Rite of Passage into the wilderness, for I gained my three gardens in 2011, Sargent-Downing, Flora Jones and Groundwork. I also made the final decision not to have children in 2011. Bittersweet in deed.
I did come to understand the nature of Spirit. I believe the nature of Spirit is to make it up as you go along. Not much room for that belief in our controlled Establishment. On the contrary, we are taught to live in fear, anxious each day we venture out our door. We are unworthy and should be punished for ever having been born. Enter Abraham (www.abraham-hicks.com) and the belief that "the purpose of life is joy," thwarting my religious upbringing (mine being Catholic, Pentacostal and Southern Baptist). I left the church when I was sixteen vowing to find the truth. Vision Quests and mind-altering substances later in my mid-twenties I stumbled upon Seth Speaks (www.sethcenter.com), the entity channeled by Jane Roberts, my firt encounter with the purpose of life being joy. I still get the catalog. Jane Roberts passed on in 1984. Falling back on my religious upbringing, I left the books alone in my late twenties believing that if it was for me, I would revisit them again. Theo (www.asktheo.com) had occurred by then, but I wasn't ready to carry on beyond Seth. Ten years later, leaving the boroughs (New York City) and beginning farming, I was handed Abraham. What a joy to revisit what I had come to know as true. A true gift of Spirit. We have evolved, if ever religion was anything beyond a means to control the masses (opioid anyone?). We are brilliant, bright, magical beings and no one, especially a man, has the right to deny us, especially women, the gift of Spirit.
I consider all of my good fortune "Gifts of Spirit" these days. The question is whether or not the gifts of Spirit are diametrically opposed to the Establishment? The gifts of Spirit are definitely different and not necessarily monetary in value. As I venture forth, promoting my businesses, I wonder where Spirit and the Establishment meet. We most certainly do not need money to be happy, but we certainly need it to pay bills. My husband and I absolutely have a certain level of ease from the harvest, about food for Winter. We have to pay rent and we purchase water. So our basic needs food, shelter, water, we need money to pay for two out of three. Then we have to pay for transportation because, in our case, Marc travels to Manhattan for work five days a week. And I travel an hour upstate at least once a week. Abraham says "come into alignment with money" so that's the next leg of the journey. I look forward to the adventure.
Through United Plant Savers (www.unitedplantsavers.org), I have connected with native and endangered plants and consider them part of my work. There are easily European standard herbs that we all now and love that I will always grow.
My old herb garden, Groundwork had a sundial in the center and I radiated circular beds out from the sundial.
Hiddenbrooke has a fountain down the center of the garden so we have come up with a different plan. I consider my gardens a canvas with levels of texture, layer and form and Shannon is an artist and she suggested I look at the work of Wassily Kandinsky, an artist who uses curves as well as straight lines. Hiddenbrooke Herb Garden is on a slope as well. I now have a series of curved beds and straight beds. My first beds were ornamentals which also have herbal value Phlox (Phlox subulata, Polemoniaceae, Perennial, Turtle Island), Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris, Ranunculaceae, Perennial, Turtle Island), Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia, Perennial, Papaveraceae, Turtle Island). Next I opened beds for Chocolate Mint (Mentha x piperita 'Chocolate', Labiatae, Perennial, Africa, Eurasia), Spearmint (Mentha spicata, Labiatae, Perennial, Africa, Eurasia) and Peppermint (Mentha x piperita, Labiatae, Perennial, Africa, Eurasia). I open beds and plant in Spring and Autumn in the cooler weather. By the end of 2017, I had beds for Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Valeriaceae, Perennial, West Asia, Europe), Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica, Urticaceae, Perennial, Northern Hemisphere, Burdock, Arctium lappa, A. minus, Asteraceae, Biennial, Europe and Turtle Island respectively, Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Labiatae, Perennial, Turtle Island), Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora, Labiatae, Perennial, Turtle Island) and Elecampane (Inula helenium, Asteraceae, Perennial, Eurasia). At the end of 2018, I installed beds for St. Johnswort, Hypericum perforatum, Hypericaceae, Perennial, Turtle Island), Echinacea, (Echinacea purpurea, Asteraceae, Perennial, Turtle Island) and Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa, Labiatae, Perennial, Turtle Island).
Phlox - leaves can be eaten in Wild Salad
Columbine - homeopathic for the nervous system
Bleeding Heart - leaves for Wild Salad
Mints - digestives issues, for me Spearmint does not work as well as Chocolate Mint and Peppermint
Valerian - sleep aid
Stinging Nettle - iron, protein, diabetes, allergies, promotes the optimum functioning of the eternal organs
Burdock - digestive issues, anticancer, headache
Anise Hyssop - native cough medicine
Skullcap - native painkiller
Elecampane - cough medicine
St. Johnswort - depression, oil for muscle ache
Echinacea - antibacterial, antiviral
Wild Bergamot - colds, digestive issues