Solstice Garden

June 22, 2009

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My art making process in the spring and summer is as much about gardening as it is sewing, spinning, dye making, and weaving. The art and the earth-tending intertwine and receive equal amounts of my attention, time, and care. I am growing my art materials, and those plants I may not use as dyes, remain as pure inspiration to the art pieces I will create this season. A newly arrived calendula bloom in the morning sun is an example of pure color bliss. This plant also offers itself kindly to healing bruises, swelling, cuts and scratches, as well as being extraordinarily complex and beautiful. I soak blossoms in almond oil, and apply the oil to whatever ails the skin. This plant along with all the others in our garden began as a handful of seeds, and a few elderly red potatoes from the fridge. We laid down a lot of horse manure on what was barren soil, in January. In late March the soil was soft enough to put a shovel into.

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A potato blossom, from our potato patch. We simply planted small red potatoes in the ground several months ago, and now we have a large almost tropical looking series of plants now covered with purple blossoms. We will harvest potatoes about three weeks after the blooms have faded.

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Heirloom akira sunflowers now rise 8ft tall above the ground. Getting them to that height required some mighty protective measures. Lots of slug removal, cayenne pepper deterrent, and soapy spray to keep harmful insects off.

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The inside scoop of the sunflower, and at some point this will be filled with delicious seeds. The chickadees are already landing on it’s hearty branches to prey on insects, in several months they’ll have much more to feed on.

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And the beautiful Japanese Indigo flowers. The plants are now 8″ tall and ready for their first harvest. I’ll be preparing the dye this week, stay tuned!

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The found rocking chair. A roadside find, now sits, repaired in our little garden. A perfect place to sit and watch bees, butterflies, and plants growing. There is so much activity from sun up to sun down, always a plethora of things for the creatures to do, and experience. I highly recommend creating a food garden. It is an incredibly therapeutic and magical experience, and completely worth the effort. That effort varies depending on where you live, your soil, and your fence or lack thereof. We began with little, just some horse manure, old bricks, many seeds, tree mulch, and rice straw- and six months later, we couldn’t be happier.

Photos taken by Andrew Fynn, garden tender, husband, and photographer.

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