This is Veronica Light writing to you from the gardens, fields and forests here in Merrowvista. It has been my extreme pleasure to lead the Garden interest group here this summer and to take villages on nature hikes during Village Time.
Merrowvista’s garden is teeming with edible delights as every flower, leaf and stem is edible! (With the exception of tomato plants, of course) This year we also have a spiral garden space for healing plants that have been transplanted from all over Merrowvista’s grounds by the Guardians of the Garden.
I have found in our campers this year eager wild crafters, budding herbalists and absolute plant lovers. Some have found an interest they didn’t know of before!
In the garden, the Pineapple Sage, Impatiens, Lemon Balm, Apple Mint and Wood Sorrel have been the favorites. But many campers have surprised themselves enjoying Snapdragons, Nasturtium and lemon scented Marigolds.
On our nature hikes, we have tasted Plantain, Self-heal, Wild Carrots, Dandelions, Sheep Sorrel, Purslane, Indian Cucumber, White Pine, Blueberry leaves, Wintergreen, Evening Primrose… just to name a very few!!
By far the favorite plant so far seems to be Mugwort. Our campers have learned that it can be used to enhance dreaming. If hung near the bedside or a small amount put in a pillowcase, the scent of this plant can help you to dream more vividly, remember your dreams better or possibly lucid dream!
The idea that I am happy to see catching on is that “the garden” is all around you. It goes beyond our beds and borders. The garden IS you! I remind campers all the time, as they timidly pick flowers to eat, that everything they choose to eat should be beautiful and colorful. Celebrate and nurture the garden within yourself!
This is such an important time for kids to connect with plants and to become Guardians of the Garden. Wild places are being cut down and wild plants forgotten or killed with chemicals to make way for lawns of grass. So many of these plants can feed us and can help to heal us!
The other day, one if the leaders of Shaw village asked if I would be willing to meet them in the garden to talk a bit about what an herbalist does. Spending an hour with those young men has been the highlight of my summer so far. I have been an herbalist for 10 years and was curious to see how interested these campers might be. We talked about how to make infused oils and medicinal healing salves. We talked about the many uses for the plants in our healing spiral. These boys were not only interested; they were excited about the idea of crafting their own remedies!
Knowing the wild plants around you and how to use them can be empowering. I know Shaw village felt that!
Sharing time experiencing wild plants with your kids has really filled my cup to overflowing this summer. I feel so grateful for the opportunity it has given me to learn from them and their observations!
I hope it sparks a love and respect for their environment that grows and lasts a lifetime.