This December we breathed a sigh of relief as our first farming year wound down. After a year of nonstop working, there were no gardens to water, no harvest to bring in, no seeds or plants to coddle. As if to further enforce a rest, snow has blanketed the farm in white silence for the past two weeks. Ice has made it too treacherous to walk about looking for work, which there is never a shortage of. But farm-work continues indoors with seed selections, planting plans for the Hugelbed, vegetable gardens, orchards, strawberry and berry patches, high tunnel and my favourite - planning the new cut flower gardens and art Studio.
In October we built the new Studio, it’s just waiting for its finishing touches. This year we will be taking part in the Salt Spring Studio Tour as Alchemy Farm Studio and Gardens. Visitors to the Studio will be able to choose bouquets and art to take home. They can also wander around the cut flower gardens surrounding the Studio, to see what is in bloom, what will soon bloom and to just spend time contemplating the beauty of Nature, enveloped in plant energy and sweet floral perfumes.
The Studio will officially open to welcome its first visitors on the May 19th, during the long Victoria Day weekend. We’ve been preparing and planning for weeks already. Hundreds of bulbs lie in wait - tulips, narcissus, anemone, grape hyacinth and more. The first heritage flower seeds will be started on heat mats and under grow lights in two weeks. A new flower cooler has been purchased to shelter freshly cut flowers from the heat of the sun - nor more wilting flower bouquets!
The new cut flower garden beds have been prepared. Before that could even be done an old rotting and falling-down shed weighted down with decades of heavy moss had to be dismantled and disposed of. The moss was removed from the shed roof and distributed under the fir trees standing guard along the edges of the new gardens. Soil was brought in, wheel barrow load by wheel barrow load. Pathways were created using wood chips made from the boughs of dangerous Grand and Douglas fir trees that have been removed this past year on the farm.
As I make my way through hundreds of seed packets, I am deciding where they will go, how often will they be planted, what will grow beside them, what flowers might join them in arrangements, what shapes and colours will compliment each other. And I am again struck with awe – each packet holds a special magic. When I planted my first flower beds in mid-July I wasn’t sure what would happen. It was late in the season - everything was late being planted this first year at our farm. I worried, I doubted, and then I marveled as the seeds germinated and grew. Within a few weeks I had bouquets of flowers to share – I was hooked! There is such a feeling of completion as I hand a bouquet to someone and watch their face light up - who doesn’t love flowers?
I sometimes find myself wondering: do you miss your art practice? do you miss teaching? Yes and no. Most of the time it’s a straight up: no. In truth, there is nothing I’d rather be doing than growing flowers – flowers that provide nourishment for insects and other beings, but also nourishment for your Soul - and mine. The Alchemy Farm Studio and Gardens feels like a deepening continuation of my environmental art practice. Instead of creating work in a gallery I’m creating a very personal site-specific project that I get to share in a profoundly satisfying way. I feel like I’m finally walking my talk, I’m being authentic and true to my being. I’m making a difference in my small corner of the world, not only by growing food for the Soul but also food - fruit and vegetables - for sustenance for ourselves and those who visit our Farm Stand. I am fully present as I tend and nurture this beautiful and sacred property. I am honoured to share this journey with my husband, Robin and our dogs and cats.
I, we, look forward to welcoming you to the Alchemy Farm Gardens and Studio.