Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Adapting to change

Welcome to my new blog, Root for You (which has now been changed to ecokatLA, *see notes below for this change). Pathway to the Garden was all things garden, which got a bit boring because it confined me to one voice, so I decided to change that. Here you will find all things healing with an emphasis on nature and local culture. This first post is about adapting to change in the garden and in life.

As my blog evolves so does my approach to gardening and life in general, after all, they are connected. One of the beauties of gardening is change. It's something that happens naturally yet in our own lives seems to require a bit more effort. Tending to and observing nature, I've found, can help us along our own journeys of change by providing a foundation resilient to the strongest winds.

Rosa Californica, newest addition to our front yard. Great heart medicine. 

Our lives are ever changing yet there are natural cycles that remain consistent, cycles of elements that carry on over long periods of time, elements that thrive on decay, elements of sorts that can only be found and felt in the wildness of nature. Those healing sources of balance are places where one can really take root.

I recently accepted that our back garden design requires too much maintenance for our faster paced lifestyle now. Initially this change was making me feel like a lousy gardener but because of my teachings I found a deeper meaning during this transition.

Wild summer back garden. Sedona looks on. 

I took a step back and intentionally let things get wild instead of trying to control a design that just no longer fit. In that wildness I got to see what thrives in abandonment and what dies without nourishment, something quite interesting to observe without intervening.

The process of strategic abandonment and observation was also a great internal experience for my self. It taught me that roles change and as they change it's important to have entities around you that maintain resiliency, those are the sources that can comfort one's being by making us feel that it's okay to be supported and not always the support during times of change. Those natural cycles and entities can aid in creating a foundation within that eases the process of adapting to or creating change.

Clearing raised beds. Getting ready for change.

Time to create our own resiliency to support our local environment and us.

Time for re-design, time for change, time to adapt even if that meant taking apart something we spent so much time and sweat building. Our middle and front yard gardens were established after the main back garden so luckily they have more elements of resiliency.

Poplar blossom from the city tree. Taking time to admire them. Recently found out they are medicinal. 

In our back garden we’ll be taking out one of our largest raised beds and we’ll be planting in-ground in organic formations, building spaces for meditation by re-using the redwood from the raised bed, planting an assortment of fruit trees, berries and medicinal plants along with cherished heirloom veggies. These small changes will provide us with a new resilient design that will support itself, local wildlife and my family with little effort. A design that will inspire and reflect the true relationship between this gardener and the plants that surround her. 

Evening Primrose, latest plant purchase for our new design. 

Along this journey, Root for You (now ecokatLA) will keep sharing gardening insights but will also be sharing musings, photography, herbalism, local events and local goods. It’s all connected…

*Editor's note: The brand has adopted another new name that will last for a longer time frame. When out and about and introducing one's self folks would say "oh, ecoKat?". Finally it dawned, keep it simple. You can follow me on most social media channels by searching, ecokatla. Once again, change, but for permanence, ha!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Myrtle and Mirto Making

Alongside our home lies a rather long stretch of myrtle shrubbery. I've always wondered if there was any use for this plant. Just by touch it's extremely aromatic!

So, one day I posted a picture of the shrub to see if I could get an ID. Of course, within a few moments, one of my herbalist pals correctly identified this plant and sent me a great link that I will share with you later in this blog.

Myrtle Hedge
But first, lets talk a little about the background of this ancient plant. It is native to North Africa and the Mediterranean region. 

In the Mediterranean, myrtle is a symbol of immortality and love. The Mediterranean culture considers myrtle an essential plant.

Myrtle was sacred to various love and land goddesses. 

The use of myrtle dates back to Northern Africa where it is used for sore throats, coughs, and topically to treat muscle pains. 

The berries of myrtle have been used to make a liqueur called Mirto that is unique to the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. We'll chat more about Mirto below. 

Learning about the traditional uses of myrtle guided me to research this plant's medicinal properties. 

Harvested just enough for a test run.
There are so many ways myrtle can be applied, internally and topically.

Here's a list of areas that myrtle can aide in besides the ones already stated (always take caution if you are using any prescription drugs):

Respiratory infections
Strengthens veins
Urinary tract disorders
Prevents wound infections
Speeds up the healing process
Balances digestion
Lower GI circulation
Can decrease blood sugar
and much more I'm sure!

Now to the Mirto making!

Here is our Mirto in the making. 

Used Ketel One vodka. 
Just an hour later. Look at that gorgeous color!
After letting it sit for about over a month, a little longer than suggested. We decided to taste the Mirto on my partner's birthday. 

Before straining it I added some local raw honey to add some sweetness as suggested by Hank Shaw's blog. 

I really cannot emphasize how great the taste was. I felt instantly connected to the history of this plant after my first sip. Very herby and kind of as close as I can get in description because the flavor is new to my palate. Simply divine. 

Next year for the holidays some family and friends just might get a bottle of home-harvested and crafted Mirto. 

About a month and a half later we have ourselves Mirto! 
Remember Mirto is a liqueur that is best used as an after-dinner drink and should be sipped to thoroughly enjoy its flavor.

Oh, the things you learn along the garden pathway!

Sources: Aleksic V, Knezevic P.  Microbiological Research 169(2014): 240-254.
Alipour G, Dashti S, Hosseinzadeh H.  Review of pharmacological effects of Myrtus communis L. and its active constituents.  Phytother Res. 2014 Aug;28(8):1125-36