Each year when the spring arrives I am struck by the changes in the Sugi Garden. Since we have been doing a naturalized garden for 15 years, we’ve seen a larger variety of plants show up. New plants arrive every year. In addition, we are seeing more and more mushrooms all around the property. Though we haven’t yet seen many wildflowers (other than vetch and California poppy) arrive on their own, we are starting to find different types of fungus and variations of the flowers we have. For the last few years, there have been a sprinkling of white poppies in the front. I’m sure that eventually they will spread, just as the yellow poppy did in those early years.
Here’s the newest arrival on the property. It’s common name is Turkey Tail and it was hidden under some plant growth near the wood pile. It is used in a wide variety of herbal supplements and has benefits for the immune system, is filled with antioxidants and can be used an adjunct to cancer treatments.
We don’t harvest plants like this. Our preference is to have the energy of the healing plants present in the garden. Many of the plants we have are used in flower essence therapy. During the Seasons program, I like to see what flowers the students are drawn to and use that as a jumping off point for their work with flower essences.
Diversity in the garden is something that is part of the natural world. When we allow the plants to choose where they want to live, they move from place to place, or choose to reseed right where they are. They will spread gradually or “jump” from one area to another unexpectedly. For example, we’ve grown chard in the back garden for many years. Two years ago, we found some volunteering in the front bed right by the street. This is a bed that we have struggled with getting anything to grow effectively there. First we had chard, then the following year, the borage showed up. Sweet peas, California poppies and Calendula have followed. Now, an area that was stubbornly refusing to grow what we planted, is now full of abundant life.
Throughout the years, we’ve seen this happen all over. When we moved here, there was Feverfew in one corner, California poppy in another and Miner’s lettuce in yet another. Now, those plants have expanded into the entire area in beautiful arrangements.
This volunteer diversity is creating a feeling of being in open space. Remember what it is like to wander along a trail in the open space? As you look around, you see all kinds of plants, insects, even the occasional animal appears. The appealing quality of a meandering walk like this is in the wonder of nature’s vast complexity and the beauty it holds. This is how wandering in the garden has become. I never know what I might find peeking from underneath, or the changes that have happened over the winter months of seeming quiet.
On Mother’s Day, the family went for a marvelous hike in the open space nearby. It was quite phenomenal to experience how similar it felt to the Sugi Garden, now that it is fully naturalized. The gorgeous wildflower displays due to the winter rains this year were inspiring. Enjoy!