The original article previously appeared on Garden Collage.
Contradictory as it may seem, winter is an ideal time to envision the garden as a metaphor for our modern lifestyle–especially after a year as politically and socially tumultuous as 2016. The garden is dormant in the winter, but as it sleeps, it is gaining energy for the spring. I believe the same concept is good for humans, as well. The winter months are a great time to reassess, to go within, and to take care of ourselves–to take stock of what is really necessary while simplifying our lives. These are the steps that are most important to me, but even a small gesture can have a huge impact. Living well is all about balance.
1. Supporting My Local Farmers Market–Even In Winter
I tend to eat very healthy, locally-sourced food with a distinct “Farmer’s Market” vibe, but I’m always striving to eat even more plant-based foods. When cooking at home, this is easy, but we eat out often and since my daughter is a vegan, it used to be a challenge when picking a place to eat. Now, however, this is not the case. There are so many fabulous, creative, cool vegan and plant-based restaurants popping up all over urban cities like New York, Los Angeles, Austin, and beyond. (Plant Food + Wine in Venice Beach and The Alchemist’s Kitchen in NYC are two recent favorites.)
2. Drinking More Herbal and Detox Teas
I found a great new tea from Herbs of Kedem, an Israeli company with a serious repertoire of interesting ingredients like nettle, wheat grass, green tea, everlasting, Etrog peel (a citrus fruit used by Jewish people during the week-long holiday of Sukkot), peppermint, dandelion, clary sage, and medicinal sage. Modern apothecaries are popping up all over global cities, and even skincare stores like Credo Beauty are starting to stock healing teas that strengthen the body from the inside out. There is an endless variety of beautifying teas to enjoy.
3. Expanding My Botanical Beauty Collection
Adding to my already extensive beauty shelf is a great goal in the winter time when skin is especially in need of moisture and antioxidants. Often, we associate summertime with skincare (sunscreen is very important, and I wear it religiously), but winter is a good time to try new moisturizing treatments and experiment with new botanical beauty products that enhance your summer glow. Recently, I’ve been adding more pure oils to my routine, including cacay oil and nigella oil— both new and exciting finds.
4. Planning For Our Outdoor Spaces
I am scouring garden magazines, books, and seed catalogs for ideas to implement in my two outdoor spaces, one of which is a large enclosed flower and vegetable garden, and the other of which is a roof terrace in New York City. I love the challenge of cultivating two wildly different spaces:
For the enclosed garden, I am going to focus on special and unique vegetables and flowers because we are opening the garden to the public in July for The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days. Gourds, cabbages, eggplants, and my favorite artichokes are all on my list, and I also want to “encourage” our native weeds like mugwort, chickweed, and purslane (which is a natural insomnia remedy) to thrive. Flower-wise, I am going to go a bit more “wildflower” and expand my collection of poppies, which I love, while throwing in lots of verbena, nigella, and nasturtiums. As always, I also plant a few new clematis varieties. I love clematis— they climb up arbors, trees, and through flower beds. (They’re also easy to take care of and great in bouquets, though I rarely cut my own flowers–I prefer to buy local bouquets at Farmer’s Markets.) Mixing flowers and vegetables is super fun for me–I like the mystery and surprises of different things popping up here and there.
For the roof terrace, I am going to stick to the simplicity of herbs, cherry tomatoes, marigolds, cosmos, and verbena. There is so much available around the corner at the Union Square Green Market that it seems a bit redundant to plant what I can get so easily–but I do love being able to jump up and snip fresh herbs for salads, etc… and the cherry tomatoes are a family favorite for us in both gardens. They’re so easy to grow and so great to snack on!
Bringing the garden into our lives (even in the winter) is an evolution that takes time–even years–to achieve. But like anything meaningful, it takes time to get the balance that fits one’s own needs–this is the lifestyle we are trying to promote and encourage on Garden Collage. Doing one thing to bring us closer to nature and the natural world is always a step forward–no matter what the season.
How do you enjoy flowers and plants during the winter months?
Related: How to Grow Your Own Kitchen Garden
7 Totally Doable Ways to Create Your Green Kitchen
5 Herbs to Start Your DIY Herb Garden
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Photo: Pexels, Plant Food + Wine, Garden Collage