The luxury and leisure of a spa sanctuary can be steps away in your own garden.
Soft textures, whispered voices, soothing scents. That’s the spa difference. Everything is designed to bring on calmness and serenity. Your garden can adopt some of these design techniques. Muted colors, attention to small details, comfortable seating and ample warmth or shade are all essential parts of a spa garden. But the aromas are probably the most important.
Of all the senses, scent is the strongest trigger of memory. A whiff of a mother’s perfume can instantly remind us of our childhood. A campfire. A flower. The nose knows, as they say, and aromas are never forgotten. Your garden can be a luxurious place where wonderfully fragrant scents and memories grow. It can also help you in your quest to surround yourself in the little luxuries a spa visit can hold, like aromatherapy mist, herbal soaps and floral massage oils.
Aromatherapy is the art of using plants and plant oils for well-being. Ancient in its origins, aromatherapy has been found to be present in almost all cultures. Once reserved for alternative medicine and high-end spas, aromatherapy is becoming a standard part of many homes with the use of atomizers, homemade candles and soaps and more. Scent not only triggers memory but affects our mood. The fragrance of flowers is something we all could use more of every day.
By cultivating your own aromatherapy garden plants, you can capture the freshest scents for use in candles, massage oils, soaps and potpourri. All these things can all be made at home with your plants. Plus, the visual and aural beauty of aromatherapy plants will make any garden bloom.
Here are a few plants to get you started on growing your own aromatherapy goodness in your garden.
English lavender survives humidity and wet winters like a champ. Make sure to get seedlings or seeds of the northern climate types of lavender. Spanish lavender and some others are only good in dry, arid climates. 6 hours of sun is recommended, and be careful not to overwater the lavender.
For spa use: consider making soap with the lavender buds sprinkled within. Lavender flowers can be put in olive oil for a lavender-infused oil that is safe to eat, cook with, or use as a hair or skin treatment. A vase of lavender flowers is air-purifying, calming and thought to be good for lung issues.
Like with lavender, chamomile flowers are delicate. These delightful flowers, with their white silky petals and yellow centers, look much like daisies. German chamomile (sometimes called scented mayweed) is the kind used in teas and aromatherapy. Chamomile can be grown in dry soil with partial shade in hot climates, or with full sun in temperate ones. Avoid using sprinklers and hand-water them at the roots instead.
Chamomile flowers in full bloom are best to harvest for teas or for drying for later use. Both the flowers and the leaves can be used in aromatherapy, but the leaves alone may be a bit bitter-tasting in tea. A combination of chamomile and lavender in a bath soap or a bath soaking sachet is thought to be a soothing remedy for skin irritations or cranky babies.
St. John’s Wort
Another sprightly yellow flower, St. John’s Wort, is known around the world for its mood-lightening qualities. An ancient plant used for eons in medicinal treatment, St. John’s Wort is often touted as an alternative-medicine treatment for depression and grief. A hardy plant, St. John’s Wort can be harvested in the summer months. It can grow in wet or dry soil but make sure it gets full sun. It will creep at first, then grow up to 3 feet tall. Pick the flowers right before the blooms fully open. Infuse the leaves and flowers in sesame or olive oil. Don’t be alarmed if the oil turns red! That’s a good sign. Rub freshly harvested flowers on wrists or use in a sachet. Dried St. John’s Wort can be used in teas.
Adding these plants can help bring your garden into that dreamy spa-like atmosphere, with the beautiful colors and perfumed blooms. By incorporating the little pleasures that make up a spa experience, you can capture your calm everyday in your own backyard.