Funny looking back upon the last entry, nearly two years ago now, and realizing that my goal of writing here at least once a month didn’t come into fruition. And that’s okay. I’m not going to beat myself up about it or lament about how there was simply no time. Because there was if I had allocated it. There was if I really chose it.
The year of 2018 found me filling orders for Maiden AK faster than ever before, both the wholesale and retail business had grown incredibly. Yet there seemed to be something missing, something off that kept nudging me to question my role in this particular partnership of plants and people. I found myself getting more and more disconnected when making the same product over and over. It seemed less magical, more ‘productive’. While walking in the mountains one day in July, I asked the Universe for help and the answer was to ‘go forth’. So I let go of the position of produce manager at You Say Tomato, our local natural foods store. It was a part time job that I actually really enjoyed, but had become repetitive in nature for me and I thought that if I quit, well, there would be all this ‘time’ for focusing on Maiden Alaska Herbals, time to focus on more plant-based writing, time to work on the second children’s book that has been brewing for awhile.
Instead, the Universe had other plans.
Instead of focusing on Maiden AK, in January of 2019, I accepted the role of garden manager at Jewell Gardens, an organic show & production garden, combined with a glass blowing studio and restaurant. It is a role I held for 5 years, a place where I worked in some sort of capacity for nine. A garden where my footsteps had tread hundreds, if not thousands of miles. A garden whose plants I helped tend and watch grow up.
A garden in need of a guardian.
You see, the founder and original owner, Charlotte Jewell, passed away a little over 2 years ago. Her son Max has accepted the responsibility of continuing her business, however, unlike his mother, he doesn’t have the plant knowledge that can make a garden grow. This is where I come in.
But the transition was difficult. After making my own schedule and working mostly from home and at You Say Tomato for the last 10 years, having to stick to a prescribed schedule was disruptive. My kids weren’t used to me not being available. I wasn’t used to it either. That was one of the most challenging aspects ~ not feeling like being a good enough mother as I chased my passion for plants yet again.
Slowly over the summer, some of the garden crew and I had been working on an area known as the Sun Bed. Charlotte had designed it to look like a sun with rays when viewed from above. The design has morphed a few times over the years and in the fall of 2018, it was completely rototilled in order to try and reclaim it from massive amounts of weed growth. When I encountered the Sun Bed last winter, it was a blank slate. Well, a blank slate that eventually grew a ton of weeds. Over the summer, it was rototilled twice more until finally there was an opportunity to really focus on the space.
I tried some designs on paper, knew that I wanted to create an area that was solely for medicinal plants (nope, no marijuana, but that’s what many of the visitors think when you say that!), and also knew that I wanted to have a space in the garden where (eventually) you could sit in the center and be absolutely encircled by plants, a place to be in communion. A center space where classes could gather and harvest and learn about the magic and medicine and beauty of the plants that grow here, both native and cultivated. As I worked with two really lovely humans on the formation of the Sun’s center, a space for fire, the land began directing. We formed the entrances to the center based on the cardinal directions, and slowly but surely began to form the circular pathways and other entrances that organically formed an easy labyrinth. Years before, I had always wanted to create a labyrinth or a meditative circle in the garden, other gardeners have had the same idea, so it was really nice to see it take shape here.
Finding that balance between your passion, your pocketbook, your joy, your family, your beliefs, your morals, your self…it’s a balance that fluctuates that’s for sure. Now that it’s November, I’m feeling much more rested. More content now that I’m working from home again. Content with less stress. Yet, I’m looking forward to what comes next at Jewell Gardens. I’m looking forward to planting the Sun Bed, planning the blooms and veggies and herbs of next year.
Blooms & Blessings to wherever you may be,