Let’s face it. We’re all tired. The very fundamental way in which we live our lives has altered, and our future will be forever changed as a result. We are now having to learn new ways to continue to thrive physically, financially, socially, and emotionally.
We are proud once again to have teamed up with the very talented Paul Brydges of Brydges Landscape Architecture Inc., to explore the many benefits of returning to a “grass roots” approach; a way to regain some control; learn, and simply enjoy what the earth naturally provides.
“There are so many things that humans are dealing with these days, and there is a huge sense of loss of control” begins Paul, “and we need to look for those things that bring back a sense of grounding to a world that feels very ungrounded, and one of the very things that we have great control over is our own space – both indoors and out.”
It’s no surprise that Paul, who just happens to also be a history buff, starts with the example of “victory gardens”. “Victory gardens were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted at both private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany, all throughout World War I and World War II. It was a way for communities to help feed each other and our soldiers, at a time when there were many shortages. The community came together in order to save lives; their own, their families, and their friends. Not unlike how we are now seeing communities come together to do anything and everything they can to help and support each other, and to rebuild.”
Paul then refers to a previous piece we wrote regarding the planting of “edible landscapes”, which not only provide beauty, but also sustenance. “There are so many edible trees and hedges that can be planted throughout your property. Apple, Black Currant, Blueberry, and Gooseberry, just to name just a few. The beauty of this project is that you can work in the confines of your own “bubble” where you are staying home, staying healthy, and creating a sharable resource throughout the community.”
“There’s a great benefit that often evolves when it comes to teaching your children about plant life and growth, incorporating weather, science, history, project research, and the execution of a plan” Paul explains. “Learning and working with your children to create life and beauty, all while gaining valuable knowledge, is a wonderful way to build positivity, self-esteem, and excitement. How amazing is it to be able to plant a vegetable garden right in your yard, then watch it come to life, grow, and then enjoy the harvest? The only thing better is then to have the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and berries combined in a beautiful bowl on the dinner table, fresh and ready to enjoy with friends and family. It’s an accomplishment like no other. Eating organic natural fruits and vegetables that you’ve grown and nurtured is great for your health, and knowing exactly where and how they were grown, leads to a much healthier end product.”
“There is also a selection of plants that will help enhance your world naturally, plants like Chrysanthemums, which produce a natural mosquito repellent. Lavender promotes good germ fighting properties, and also promotes healing. Mint not only provides us with a beautiful smelling herb, but also works wonders for upset tummies. And do you know what else many of these plants contribute to? The bees! Most of these plants, hedges, and bushes are pollinators, and are wonderful not only for the bee population, but also for the health of your gardens themselves.”
Paul adds “The work and contribution to our world by bees makes for another wonderful lesson to teach your children. An amazing species, with over 250 varieties to learn about. There is no question that bees are an extremely important part of ecosystems throughout the world.”
Paul recently spoke to us about planting “pet-friendly” gardens. “As we move in to this new way of living, being able to make your own pet food, pet treats, or even baby food, can provide organic, natural alternatives to much of the processed food we currently purchase.” Be sure to do your research to ensure you’re getting proper nourishment from your own home-made foods, but even something as simple as cooked sweet potato is a great treat for your pooch!
Not to mention how good it is on the table at Christmas dinner, baked with butter, salt, and pepper!
Speaking of adding to the dinner table, planting an herb garden can be done easily, and can be done on a large or small scale. “Even those who live in small condos or apartments can grow herbs on their window sills” says Paul. “Herbs not only look lovely, but they also provide a great taste addition to whatever you might be serving for dinner.”
Fresh basil served with tomato and cheese is always a crowd favourite. Chives, cilantro, and dill will also make great additions to your spice cupboard repertoire.
There is something comforting about getting back to basics in a world that has changed and become somewhat more complicated. Our ancestors would be proud to know that when faced with adversity, uncertainty, and fear, we were able to look to the past, to those victory gardens, and also to them, for their lessons, and their strength.
Written by: Kelli M. Maddocks | Resources: Brydges Landscape Architecture