Monday, 5 July 2010

Herbal therapy

lavender and honeysuckle by our back door

When I feel stressed, I turn to herbs - just a whiff of hot lavender as I brush past it by our back door is sufficient (usually) to bring me to my senses. It doesn't always work, so I have other strategies to calm myself. Working in the garden with hands in the soil inevitably slows my racing brain, as does writing  in my journal or diary, or 'composing' blank verse on scraps of paper. Frequently these snippets spring into being when I am preparing supper, but food is always a comfort; it depends on the level of stress - preparing food, not so much eating it. I have burned many a dish when I get carried away!

My third form of mental therapy is to create in fabric or paper;  which is regarded by my dear husband as play, so I sneak in odd moments but find this frustrating. From time to time I manage a complete day and have been revived this last weekend by a marvellous workshop I attended, which in itself involved herbs and my garden (see my account in one of my other blogs, Journaling the Journal); I hug to myself this stolen day of pure pleasure, for what I learned will sustain me through weeks to come.

This last six months has been particularly stressful for one reason and another. Working freelance is always hit and miss; you are either short of work and panic that you cannot meet the council tax or whatever, or are so overloaded that it is hard to fit in all there is to do; and then I worry about the state of the house and garden which never receives the attention from me that it - and Raymond - deserves.

Last week was one of recuperation: meeting friends in Oxford for lunch and a visit to the Ashmolean museum to look at the textiles gallery, the workshop on Saturday and tidying up of work odds and ends before the next six-month tranch of articles and canvassing for 2011. So my herbal therapy yesterday was calculated to satisfy both mind and body: I collected together many of my garden pots and filled them to overflowing with herbs, designed to attract bees and butterflies and other beneficial insects. By rights, this part of the post should be in my gardening blog, but that got off to a poor start, rushed into being just before Malvern, and has yet to achieve its potential! (If you like gardens, gardening and plants, do please take a peek; it will improve ....). My three blogs are deliberately intended to interlink; you never know what you will find on each one; that 'wild child' is wilful and will not be constrained!

some of the herbs awaiting positioning on pots around the garden

I played with herbal image transfers last night and am actually ready to put the pages of my 'Summer Days' fabric concertina book together now. My final strategy for the second half of this year is to so organise my workspace that I can work on various projects simultaneously, and to do a little of something every day, before stress levels build again. Right now I feel calm and collected, and for that I am so thankful. I am grateful, too, for blogger friends who keep me focussed and, although I may not comment as often as I would wish or should, what a wonderful way to keep in touch. Blogging is another form of therapy.


  1. lovely blog, I have missed reading your blog it gives freshness to the soul.Thank you

  2. Lovely post, just the thing to read before I venture out for some garden therapy time. I shall certainly read your gardening blog when I return to the computer.

  3. Your words have whisked me back to my parent's house, to their vegetable and herb garden and good cooking. I'm currently locked indoors with my other family in Cyprus, trying to avoid the 38 degree heat, and now I'm dreaming of Lincoln, Oxford and Cambridge and the beautiful summers they all bring! I hope you manage to find the time you need to relax and create more fabric and paper treats, I always love to see them. Have a great week!

  4. ...a farmhouse nosegay...
    Love the picture this brings to mind - and nostrils!

  5. The mixed scent of lavender and roses is wafting in tonight through my window. I can imagine how lovely it is to enter your garden through that wooden door.

  6. I wish you would come and look at my garden Anne, I try so hard and it seems hopeless, and the daughter of such green fingered parents. Its a tiny garden and it just looks awful...which is hard when I like to be creative everywhere else.

  7. Hello Ann - I haven't popped in for a while but this was a lovely post to read and catch up with you while I sniffed that lavender and relaxed - I don't know where you find the energy to do all that you do and write 3 blogs - I'm going to pop over to the journal blog now to find out more about that workshop

  8. Dear Wild Somerset Child, I wrote a poem which might be in tune with your world, even if I am not at all expert in herbs:


    The dry, yellow, straw-like patches of grass,
    the chalky, ochre earth in circular patterns
    surrounding the roots at the base of the trunks,
    the conspicuous dust along the hedge, the gossamer
    threading its digression on the leaves and twigs,
    aftermath of a disregarded breath.
    Silent thirst. I guide the jet on all this,
    on such an inert, evident display,
    on the bowed, discoloured heads of the hydrangea,
    on the cracked acacia’s bark.

    I have been absent, I will be absent
    while it’s so clear the care it’s needed here,
    the required routine and the care in your gaze,
    maybe they feel it like a shadow, or a breath,
    the simple presence, the act before the act
    maybe more necessary than the actual act itself.

    Neglect is easy, like distraction
    and you know well how constancy
    means being with all of them just here
    step by step, even if thoughts go
    in many useless directions.

    But you sense that what now counts
    is only to continue, feet firm on the ground,
    the pump in your hand,
    let thoughts come and go, they are not important.

    Best wishes, Davide Trame

  9. Great to read your blog again...feel like I'm in your garden, smelling the fresh herbs!