Growing a Goddess Flower Garden
By Guest Blogger Amreet Sandhu
There are gardens, and then there are goddess gardens. Gardens offer us peace and beauty. Feminist author Alice Walker once said, “Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.” In her book, In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens, Alice Walker describes how gardening offered a creative outlet to women throughout the ages and across continents, regardless of socioeconomic status or background.
I come from generations of women who planted and grew beautiful things. Their stories of gardening, farming, and connecting to the changing seasons are with me. During my undergraduate studies, I began gardening with the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz, California. As a garden intern, I observed first-hand gardening’s healing effects on community members who needed both work and refuge. Domestic violence survivors worked in the garden, planted and dried flowers, and then created beautiful wreaths for sale in the garden shop and at farmers markets. The gorgeous wreaths provided their creators with feelings of accomplishment and restored dignity. I have witnessed and experienced that the process of planting, growing, and harvesting—in and of itself—provides a certain catharsis. Then, blooms bring tremendous delight.
Working with the Homeless Garden Project gave me a passion for gardening. I love arranging fresh bouquets for my house, friends, and neighbors. If your garden provides you, and others, with this much joy—wonderful. However, flower gardens can do even more than sustain you and your spirit—they can sustain important non-human life. Gardens can help area hummingbirds stay hydrated, monarch butterflies and bees restore their declining numbers, native and migrating birds on the Pacific Flyway nest, and sustain local ecosystems. If your garden can do all this, you have planted a goddess flower garden.
Gardens are good for the soul and good for the local ecosystem. The following are my tips on how to plant your own flower garden.
Don’t have a yard?
It is not necessary to have a yard for gardening. If your space is smaller, consider ceramic pots, planters, or hanging baskets. You’d be surprised at how many herbs will grow on your windowsill, how many butterflies will visit your one balcony pot of native milkweed, or how many hummingbirds will drink from your one hanging feeder.
What to plant?
I relocated to Sacramento 23 months ago from Portland, Oregon—a very different climate. Since then, I have learned more about native flowers that are easy to grow, drought tolerant, and support local bird and bee populations. The California Native Plant Society and the UC Davis Arboretum guided me. Thanks to those resources and my own independent research, drought tolerant Goodwin Creek Grey lavender, orange and red blanket flower, orange and pink fuchsia, blue and purple hummingbird sage, bright pink echinacea, yellow black-eyed Susans, poppies, lupine and orange and red sunflowers grow in my gardens. Non-native flowers also grow in my garden because I love having them in my house, on my hats, and as hair accessories. It is not uncommon to find lilies, dahlias, roses, gladiolas, tulips, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and fire trumpets in my arrangements. The bees love the lavender, and the hummingbirds love the tubular flowers.
I water twice a week according to my watering schedule and often times reuse water from cleaning, cooking, and pet bowls—so long as my soaps are biodegradable and my water does not contain salt. In the upcoming weeks, I will be planting milkweed for the monarch butterflies, which can be ordered for free here, or purchased at the native plants sale like the one happening this Saturday at the Arboretum.
I pick flowers based on a few different factors including color, shape, petals, and leaves. I most enjoy blues, purples, oranges, and reds. I prefer bright, vibrant colors to pastel ones. Like the hummingbirds and perhaps because of them, I prefer uniquely shaped and tall, tubular flowers.
If you’ve not planted a flower garden before, spend some time in a flower shop and see which flower shapes and colors stand out to you. Walk through a nursery and observe what catches your eye. Think about what flowers you enjoy receiving as gifts. Then, plant them and give yourself the gift of those flowers. Here are some resources to get you started on some fairly easy yet stunning blooms: dahlias and lavender.
We’re in a drought, is planting wise?
Though we are in a drought, birds and bees still need us to grow native plants. Here are some options.
Where to go for plant care products?
Talini’s nursery is my go-to place for sustainable, organic, and non-toxic plant care supplies including soil, compost, soil acidifier, and plant food. Talini’s provides an impressive selection of plant care options that are gentle on you, the soil, the earth, and creatures that count on flowers and plants for sustenance. Greenacres also has a wide selection of plant care products and starts.
When to plant what?
Victor Hugo once wrote, “A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in—what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” I wish you this peace.