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Garden Delights - October 2016

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Growing Your Own Self-Care Garden
Easy-To-Grow Plants for Personal Resilience…and Pollinators

by Kellen Watson

For many people, fall is an especially abundant time of year. Things can get stressful, and we all know that stress can lead to breakdowns that prevent us from achieving the things we were so stressed out about to begin with. So, how do we become more resilient in the face of what seems to be an ever growing to-do list at this time of year and not burn out? We embrace two of my favorite words. Self. Care. 

This month, I’m featuring five easy-to-grow plants that you can be made into nourishing, homemade self-care products like lotions, soaps, and salves. These, and many other skin friendly plants, are also highly attractive to pollinators. Imagine a delightful little section of your garden, flitting with butterflies and perhaps surrounding your favorite sit spot, where you grow gorgeous plants that support you in feeling beautiful and strong. You’ll get to spend more time in the garden, which is always good for calming the busy mind, and you can even attach a little mantra or words of gratitude to each plant and repeat it whenever you use the product you’ve made from it. Let these little garden champs polish your shine! 

Want to learn more about making your own self-care products? Join Daily Acts for our Bountiful Beauties - Natural Soap Making & Skin Care Workshop on Saturday, November 12th, 11am-2pm. The products you make in class can also be great holiday gifts! Spots are limited, so be sure to sign up at dailyacts.org ahead of time. 

CA Lilac (Ceonothus spp.)

This native, perennial, evergreen shrub comes in every size and shape and is very drought tolerant. Bloom time varies by species, but most are covered in mildly scented purple puffs early in the year. The flowers, which contain naturally occurring sapponins, create a foamy cleansing suds that rivals the most expensive and natural face cleanser on the market. About a teaspoon of flower petals rubbed in the hands with a little water works as a great, skin-calming exfoliate. Tolerates sun and shade, and is reported to be a nitrogen fixer. Be careful not to overwater in the summer.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Studies have suggested that Calendula extracts have antiviral, antigenotoxic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and can knock out wrinkle-causing free radicals. Plus, the petals are a colorful garnish for salads and cakes. This annual grows best in full sun to partial shade and fairly moist soil. Dry the flowers, then soak in rose hip or meadowfoam seed oil for one month. Dab the resulting serum under and around the eyes daily to ward off crow’s feet. You can also steep flowers at low heat in coconut and olive oil to make a healing salve. 

Thyme (Thymus spp.)

Like other plants in the mint family, this aromatic herb is rich in beneficial plant compounds called phenols. A recent study shows promise that at least in a lab setting, thyme kills more of the zit-causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes than benzoyl peroxide, the active ingredient in most acne-fighting creams. Thyme, an evergreen perennial, enjoys full sun and relatively dry soil. Soak the leaves in apple cider vinegar for 2 weeks, then strain. Use the resulting liquid as a spot treatment or mix with floral water for an all-over, daily toner. 

German Chamomile (German Chamomile)

Tea made from this herb is useful as a sleep aid, but the white-and-yellow, daisy-like flower also possesses anti-inflammatory powers that reduce facial redness and ease the irritating skin condition dermatitis. In a Brazilian study published in Phytotherapy Research, the German strain of chamomile sped wound healing even more than treatment with corticosteroids. A hearty, drought-tolerant annual, German chamomile requires little care if left in a sunny location. Dry the flowers, then soak them in oil for as long as a month. Olive oil works well, or, if you’re acne-prone, try jojoba oil. Strain, then apply.

Comfrey (Symphytum offinale)

Comfrey’s big, arrow shaped leaves and hanging-bell purple flowers have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, so an infusion can be made for use as a toner or in creams and lotions. Comfrey can be a bit of a pest in the garden due to its tendency to self-seed, but fortunately there is a sterile variety available called Bocking 14. Comfrey is an herbaceous perennial that’s very easy to care for, and creates a nice textural contrast in the garden.


To reserve your spot at this workshop, visit our event page at dailyacts.org.