Getting Ready for the Garden

Ha! I know what you were thinking when you read Getting Ready for the Garden. You thought new gloves, cleaning up handtools, preparing the Earth, raking, bringing out the lawn mower and all the requisite steps we each are required to do for a successful season. But actually, I was talking about getting YOU ready for the garden. Really. Because having certain things in place, ready for the wear and tear of gardening, happens to be a very good idea. So I’m going to depart from my usual practice of rarely mentioning products, etc. and actually share with you some of the products I’ve come to rely on for balancing and healing from the rigors of gardening–especially at this time of year, when after the long days of winter we are eager to get our hands dirty, to spring into action and transform our winter gardens into summer loveliness. It’s part of what we live for, isn’t it? And with good reason.

I will preface this information with a reminder first and foremost to urge you to pace yourselves as you launch headlong into garden activities. I myself have been very good to myself this year, consciously holding back just a bit, and increasing my activities just a little each day. I know we all have the experience of getting in the zone and losing track of time and before we know it we’ve been out there at the garden for hours at a time, to the chagrin of our backs and necks and hands and knees. So what might we turn to in that case? I honestly could not imagine my life without arnica balm, arnica salve, arnica gel or arnica pellets (homeopathic)!
I first learned about using arnica when I was running a Spanish program for 1st through 8th graders at a Rudolf Steiner School when my daughter was still in school. The teachers reached for it when a child had a bump or bang in the playground. Arnica is excellent for bruises. (Not cuts; bruises.) It’s also an amazing assistant to healing sore backs and muscles. And if I’ve really “done it” I will reach for the homeopathic version as well. Ask for assistance in your local health food store. I’d recommend Boiron.

Another product I use regularly on big bumps and sore back muscles is Tiger Balm. I put it on half an hour after a warm bath or shower. This ensures pores are properly restored, not wide open, in applying. There are two versions. The stronger of the two will stain whatever you have on, so put on a t-shirt that’s not important to you. It’s worth it, though! I have healed so many out of sorts muscle aches with Tiger Balm! Sometimes it takes a bit of time, but I’d far rather take my time, combine with the needed rest and not resort to heavy medicines.

Now, a word about bath salts. If you only take showers I highly recommend you schedule a bath with yourself and have bath salts on hand, especially after heavy duty activities in the garden. There are many to choose from, though my preferences are Himalayan or any from Israel. I personally would not “try to save money” and buy salts from China. Sorry. Use Epsom Salts if you want to budget. Soaking in hot water with added bath salts is another luxurious way to soften the blow of hard garden work.
Now say you do your utmost to care for yourself but you find you have fallen. Or stung by a bee. Or pounded yourself with a hammer. Anything that hurts. I would reach for the Rescue Remedy. Bach Flower Remedies, which I was fortunate to take a class on, in Europe, are an ever so good thing to have on hand for balancing out any experience you find as discomforting or upsetting. It will not relieve pain, per se, but it will help you come to terms internally, with any kind of shock to your body or emotions. So easy to use–simply put a couple of drops under your tongue. Done. They are not hard to come by and we have used them for decades. Oh, and they make one for dogs now, and I highly recommend you keep it out of your medicine cabinet as the bottles are very similar and I must confess I have twice taken the one that bears a small paw, which I must have missed midst my upset. (No harm done. I didn’t woof or anything.)
Now what about your hands? I hope you are learning to wear gloves, as cumbersome as they might feel, but in spite of glove protection your hands are still going to suffer, right? They dry out, get cut and poked and dirty and all manner of abuses abound. (Don’t we just love it anyway? We do!) The absolute best thing I’ve found to heal my hands the fastest is Burt’s Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Cream. Instant fix!
Now a word on allergies. I have found a homeopathic remedy that relieves me of my allergy symptoms. Really. Skeptic that I was it worked. I recommend you see if you are one of the ones this will also help. Ask your local health food store for guidance. Let me know, will you?

Now go out into your gardens, dear readers, and enjoy yourselves!

Love and spring blessings,
Kathryn xoxox

Book News: On April 25th I will be a guest on “The Christine Upchurch Show”. If you are available, give a listen!

The Beauty of Spring at Dusk

quince at dusk

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post. I was intending to write about gathering together resources to help ensure our body’s best spring into spring, and I will, in fact, be writing that soon. However, thinking I’d include a few spring blossoms in my post, I took my camera out into the garden, even though “it was late” and, lo, this post took a turn towards sharing, for now, the beauty found in day’s lingering light upon the spring blossoms that abound this end of March in Northern California. It is my gift and joy to share with you what I beheld last evening.

apple blossom at dusk

The apple tree was nearly ruthlessly pruned back by “tree guys” this winter. It is responding in kind with a renewed vigor. I can actually relate! “Let your ground lie fallow” is one of the 52 lessons sited in my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy. To some extent I did pull back this winter, and I am reaping the benefits this spring with a vital surge of renewed energy, for which I am feeling deeply grateful. It is always good to fill back up before pushing on, wouldn’t you agree?

forsythia at dusk

This large forsythia harbors nostalgia for me. Growing up as a teen in Massachusetts I knew that when the forsythia on our property emerged I could look forward to much cherished warmer weather. While not as extreme in Northern California, the message is the same, and still welcomed.

apple blossoms at dusk

rose at dusk

One of the first roses of the season…

camellia at dusk

This property is blessed with an abundance of camellias, who are well into their magnificent display. This one is a favorite. You can readily see why!

Love and spring blessings, wherever you might be! May your gardens soon be full of flowers!
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: Lots to tell!
*Seattle’s publication New Spirit Journal ran a lovely review of my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy and pronounced it, “insightful, practical and entertaining”! Why, thank you!
*On April 25th, Arbor Day, I will be a guest on “The Christine Upchurch Show” at 11:00AM (PDT) on KKNW-AM in Seattle, Cable Radio Network and WBLQ-AM in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. I will announce more details on my Facebook Fan Page. If you have not “liked” the fan page, you may by going here.
*Lastly, I am so glad to let you know I have the opportunity to meet some of you in person at Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael in Marin County on May 10th from 1:00-4:00PM. More info here. I do hope you can come!


Perhaps it is inevitable that my attention in winter would be drawn to the barren trees, devoid of distracting leaves and even branches, the trunks of trees quite bare, revealing, simply, bark. I decided to bear witness to those that share the spaces I occupy in my daily life. Here they are, their varied beauty, a story recorded, yet untold, in each, logged and duly admired.











I hope you enjoyed this lovely journey.

Love and end of winter blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: Interested readers will find an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden in the spring issue of the Maine art quarterly Stone Voices, and also in next issue of GreenWoman Magazine!

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