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Some of the nicest things in life seem to find us, rather than vice versa. For example, a herb farm snuck up on me last weekend.
Ok, this is a bit of an exageration. We were a few hours out of the city in one of those earthy, artisan-filled rural areas, and I was actually hoping to visit a particular pottery studio. Time reared it’s unforgiving head: based on the hand drawn map in our local brochure, the studio tuned out to be too far out of the way. However, a ‘Hazelwood Herb Farm’ was within reasonable distance of us. So yes, I did do the tracking down in the end, but it certainly wasn’t how I had been anticipating spending an hour of my life that afternoon.
Important lesson learned: visiting a herb farm can be hugely regenerating. This one was a small, seemingly family run type of organisation. Out front: an attractive garden, with requisite pond+bench for quiet contemplation+goldfish (and also a frog – though this is an assumption based on ripples and the disgruntled ‘plop’ I heard as I wandered up, obviously without much contemplative grace.) The proprietor came out to welcome us almost immediately as we passed through the garden entrance, and she explained the whereabouts of the nursery and gift shop. This was fairly obvious as the farm was, as I mentioned, small, but it was nice to meet the owner.
The nursery was gorgeous. Housed in three airy wooden structures, were row after row of the healthiest, and most varried, little green lifeforms imaginable. The plants were obviously completely pampered, and they all had hand written signs stating their names and properties. The names provoked the imagination and recalled other times – loved them. Some of my favorites:
Good King Henry
Motherwort, Figwort, and Soapwort
Eleven varieties of rosemary were available and roughly as many of lavender, mint, sage and thyme. Though I was tempted to go a bit buying crazy, and I spent ages perusing, I restrained myself and chose only a half dozen seedlings: corsican mint, cowslip, figwort, a florentine iris, some good king henry, and a bay laurel, the selection based mostly on inate, random appeal. The (other) proprietor there, seeming genuinely concerned for the plant’s welfare, took a lot of care to let me know how to look after my bay laurel. The two inch plant I’d chosen is evidently already a year old and if I look after it properly, it will live for years, growing several feet (fingers crossed for the little guy.) The owner doing this definitely contributed to the sense that this was an absolutely nurturing, deeply peaceful little environment. The hour or so I spent there was almost like meditating, and I left feeling that I had achieved that elusive ‘escape from modern life’ for a little while.
The fun part of it all came in planting the seedlings. My hands were caked with black earth, and it struck me that rumaging around in soft, lose, moist soil is vaugely reminiscent of kneading bread.
There has been a lot written lately instructing people on how to slow down and simplify things. Poking around a well tended nursery in the country is a great little ‘natural rhythm’ booster-shot.