My journey began beside the sea in Hollywood, FL. The ocean was my first exposure to nature. The beach became my first love and my window to the natural world. As a child and young adult, my family lived in several towns along Florida’s south east coast. The winter I was 17, I sold my Ford Fairmont, bought a plane ticket, and found myself on Cape Cod, in Falmouth, MA, at the home of a high school friend's sister.
Here, I experienced snow for the first time, but that was not enough to keep me on the Cape during the off-season. I moved on to Cambridge, MA, and shared an apartment with musicians and actors involved in the Living Theater. I frequented used books stores and wrote poetry. Life in the city was exciting. Creativity has always nourished me. One day, at a tiny health store on Massachusetts Avenue, I was introduced to sprouts and seeds. Here, I put my tippy toes in the water and began learning about natural foods.
During this period, I got my first herb book, Back to Eden. A few years later, when I was 21, I was back on Cape Cod. This time I settled in the seaside town of Provincetown, where I truly connected with the plant world. Back with ocean, the sun, and the beach, I was ready, and in a magical place, where I could get my feet fully in the water. I began my self-study. I referenced field guides, explored, visited, and interacted with the plants that I was discovering. The feeling of finally being at home in the landscape of Provincetown filled me with a sense of belonging that deeply fills me to this day. A year later, I met my life partner, Ellen. We, along with our friend, Randi, started a small herbal study circle.
As a group, we pooled our books and researched different plants. We focused on the nutritional, medical, and spiritual aspects of the plants. We had some pretty wild green adventures; I felt these were affirmations that I was on the right path. A few years later, I spent a winter in Brooklyn, NY.
There, I joined a serious study group, which was a sister group to a local cervix circle. We learned about our body systems, different approaches to treating health ailments, and other ways of thinking. We drank herbal infusions, told stories, and shared copies of all of our research, thereby learning and expanding our libraries. This was all before the Internet. I miss that uncomplicated time. It was very exhilarating to be with other women motivated to learn. Each woman's contribution afforded us a vital opportunity to see from another perspective.
As always, back to the sea, and back to the Cape. There, I made the commitment to travel to Vermont once a month to study with Rosemary Gladstar. Rosemary gave me faith and encouragement. She showed me my potential as a budding herbalist. Before that time, I had been reluctant to identify myself as an herbalist.
Thirteen years ago, Ellen and I moved to Vermont. With our own hands, we built a small straw bale house and began to develop our gardens. Our gardens have grown over the years into a mix of cultivated and wild areas. Wanting certain herbs to be close to me, I ask their spirits to come to the garden and be my teachers and allies.
Motherwort came first. In this way, the garden flourishes. Three years ago, I started working with flower essences. This brought me to a deeper level of being with the plant fairies, locating, harvesting, and making magical earth medicine. I make individual altars for each of my flower essences. This helps me delve into my understanding and connection with the plant. With great care, I make micro batches of tinctures, salves, infused oils, and of course, flowers essences.
This spring, I began working in my new, gorgeous, tiny studio on wheels. It is parked near my beautiful stream, nestled in the cool shade, the soundtrack for my work is water dancing among the rocks. I wildcraft and make flower essences in Provincetown's Beech Forest, the Cape Cod seashore, and the lush green meadows and woods of Vermont. It has been more than twenty years of manifesting Gardenia Gardens Botanicals.
I am thankful that I am able to share this growing line of botanic preparations. It has been a long journey. Like a tree, I’ve grown slowly and steadily. Now, the roots of this journey are strong. My spirit is anchored in a way that has never happened before. I finally feel that I have come into my own. Through encouragement and support, I am able to live this dream. I feel eternally grateful for the green and sea world, my dear sister, Brandee, my family, my animals, my friends, and those who have helped me bring this vision to fruition.
Sincerely with the warmest loving blessings to you,