My Inspiration, My Hildegarden
Reading through Healthy Hildegard, I cannot help but to be inspired. Hildegard of Bingen was near my age when she came into her own. For me, midlife has brought a lot of reflection. I have come to realize that I have made it this far by playing by some set of rules that have served me well, but also led me away from my true self.
I found myself in a world where I was led by the need to do what was expected. I need to qualify that: the expectations on me were never overbearing, but I am a product of the greater whole, complete with external societal expectations.
And, Here We Are
Now, at 42, I have never been married and have no children. I am able to provide comfortably for myself, yet I find myself wondering if I am living this life for me or for something else. The optimist in me says “you’re living your life for yourself”, but those words seem to just fill space and leave me without real progress toward enlightenment on the matter.
We like to call these questions of purpose a “mid-life crisis”, but what I am hoping for in my own life is not to alleviate the angst of such questions but instead to find new ways to live those questions, ways that will clarify my purpose and sense of direction.This of course is the hardest work out there, the work on oneself.
A First Step
So I have taken action, one small step. I have planted my medieval garden, inspired by Hildegard. I have done so with the intention of channeling Hildegard’s love of the plants that heal and inviting that love and wellness into my life, one day at a time. Josh took all of these pictures of me and posted them, which I love, but I wouldn’t normally have myself all over this blog.
As a gardener, I had no trouble planting. I chose to plant my Hildegarden in pots for two reasons. First, I rent my house. Despite my age, I continue to rent because I still have a bit of a gypsy soul that continues to whisper in my ear “you could leave tomorrow”, so in theory I could pack my garden up and move on. The second and far less dramatic reason is that I live in Denver, Colorado, where summer can turn to winter in an afternoon. By November, I won’t be able to wander into my garden and snip fresh herbs, so I want to be able to bring them inside to winter.
Here is what I decided to plant
- Rose (not wild-so we’ll see if commercial rosebushes produce rose hips), pictured with Francis of Assisi, below
- Peony (not yet in bloom)
- Lavender, see below
- Parsley, see below
- Sage, see below
- Violets (Viola), see below
- Yarrow, see below
- Rosemary (can’t find my picture!)
- Dill, see below
- Fennel (the fennel is not technically in the Hildegarden because it will cross pollinate with the dill and all hell will break loose), see below
- Chamomile (not yet in bloom), see below
- Thyme, see below
- Lemon Balm (this smells AMAZING), see below
- Basil, see below
- Garlic (these garlic scrapes are pretty, but I think they have to go!), see below
- Intention 🙂
“Also Ran” Plants that Didn’t Make the Garden
The most exciting medicinal plant, which I did not plant, is the dandelion. I was talking to my sister the other morning, she is a student of Ayurveda in Albuquerque, and when I told her I couldn’t find Milk Thistle (apparently an outlaw plant) anywhere, she advised me to find a similar plant with similar properties and then she talked about the dandelion (liver detoxification).
Her excitement for this “weed” was catching. As she pointed out: how resilient and life affirming can one plant be? Why wouldn’t we eat it? It successfully adapts to its environment and seeds like crazy and roots like few other plants. It finds what it needs wherever it lands. And it’s bitter.
I know this because I was so inspired that I picked some leaves and put them in my last salad. It is just as good as kale! As Hildegard would tell us, bitter is better.
While the rest of the garden matures, the next time you hear from me, I will be making dandelion tea. In the meantime, tell us about your garden, how you use your medicinal herbs and, perhaps, how Hildegard has inspired you to start taking action to find your way to health, wellness, and a new sense of purpose. Both she and you deserve the recognition.
By the way, does anyone know what this is? It’s growing near my onions, but looks a little unusual (but very fragrant).
(P.S. If you have a good dandelion tea tutorial, please share!!!!)