Friday, December 30, 2011

Parque del Retiro Madrid

These magnificent gardens were originally the playground of the Spanish monarchs, they cover about 350 acres in Madrid proper. There were once very large palaces that were destroyed in the early 19th century. These beautiful gardens include many large statues, beautiful rose beds and a lake for rowing small boats! 
The light was very soft and beautiful when I walked through the gardens. While it is winter, there were a few beautiful surprises to photograph. I love being in public gardens and observing how nature adapts in such a big city, and how people who live in the city adapt to nature. 
Wishing everyone a very fresh and sparkly new year with much joy, grace, and sweetness in the year to come. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Gardens of Aranjuez

This was a particularly sparkly holiday in Aranjuez, Spain with my beautiful family. Many Argentine, Spanish, Irish and Greek specialties were shared with open Hearts. 
During this time, I was introduced to the gardens of Aranjuez and I was immediately inspired and fell in love with the light and the landscape. These gardens contain fountains, pools, statues and magnificent buildings all along side the Tagus river. This was the Spring residence for the Kings of Spain, originally constructed by Phillip II in the second half of the 16th century. The gardens were an oasis for the royal families, as the surrounding areas are quite arid. UNESCO declared this magical city a world heritage site. 
Included in the landscape, there are four gardens; The Isle garden, the Parterre garden, the Princess garden and the gardens of Isabella II.

While it is winter, there were still interesting botanicals to photograph. I love that there are roses in bloom in December!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Botanical Gardens Madrid, Spain

Today was a beautiful day in Madrid.  The light was so soft and delicate, it feels wonderful to be here. To get grounded back into myself I went to the Real Jardin Botanico de Madrid or Botanical Gardens. The gardens were established in 1755 by King Ferdinand VI, it covers 20 acres.  While most of the plants are not in bloom in December, I was gifted some beautiful surprises. I was really taken by the Chinese Roses, photographed below.
Wishing everyone a lovely holiday!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In Praise of Citrus

There are so many gorgeous citrus fruits available now and I have been remembering how when I was a child my mother taught us how to make pomanders that we would hang around the house for the holidays. Pomanders are traditional Christmas and New Years gifts and ornaments. They are often hung by red ribbons, and made by pushing cloves into fresh oranges which are then rolled in cinnamon powder. Over time the orange shrinks and it exudes a delicious scent. In Victorian times these ornaments were often hung in closets and kept in drawers to keep away months. Orris root can be used to preserve the ornaments, this comes from the root of the Iris. My pomander was rolled in cinnammon powder and I placed a drop  of sandalwood and ginger essential oils at the the top. At the top and bottom I also added handmade beads made of glass.

In my practice I love working with citrus oils. I feel that the scents of orange, bergamot, lemon, pink grapefruit and blood orange are like working with liquid sunshine. Mandarine and tangerine are other favorites that I use in pediatric treatments. Citrus oils have a short shelf life and should be stored in the refrigerator.
In natural perfumery they are considered top notes.
In Chinese herbal medicine the peels of citrus fruits fall into the category of herbs that Regulate Qi. For example tangerine peel, is called Chen Pi, or Pericardium Citri Reticulatae. It is acrid, bitter, warm and aromatic. It regulates qi, dries dampness and helps to prevent stagnation.

This week, I am off to the land of my people, Spain. I am in search of many beautiful and delicious scents, flavors and plants. Wishing everyone sparkly holidays. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Flowers

There have been several surprises here in the land of The Springs this week. First and foremost the plant world is  getting a bit confused by this very warm weather that we have been experiencing, as a result, tobacco flowers, calendula flowers and azaleas are in bloom!
Here are some pictures of these hardy and beautiful flowers.

This year I had some very beautiful journals printed in a limited edition. They were created with Mark Gavin at the amazing paper company Ecojot. We used one of my botanical drawings created in Photoshop to make the covers. In the illustration,  I included a saying that my grandmother Isabelle embroidered. Her love of botany, plants and beauty inspired me on so many levels. This piece of embroidery was framed and hung on a wall in her farmhouse in West Virginia. Since I can remember this embroidery has been a part of my life, the saying is 'Don't Hurry Don't Worry and Don't Forget to Smell the Flowers.'  These journals make great gifts for the holidays! There are two sizes for sale 5x7" for $11 and 6x9" for $16. If you are interested in purchasing a journal please contact me at

A portion of the sale will be donated to The Retreat in East Hampton, N.Y. where shelter is provided for victims of domestic violence.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pink Camellia Japonica

Camellia flowers are still in bloom and much to my surprise ants and a bee came by as I was taking pictures of the flowers today! The petals of the flowers are soft and powdery pink, they are gorgeous. These flowers have several meanings in the language of flowers; white represent perfection, pink represent pining or longing, red, passion or fire of the Heart. These flowers are also represent admiration and gratitude.

In China, the Camellia flower petals are symbolic of a woman and the calyx is symbolic of the protector of the petals or of a man. It is also a symbol of young love and deep devotion between a couple.  This quote appeared as I was writing the entry about the energetics of Camellias,  unfortunately I do not know where it came from but it is beautiful and fitting... 'Repeated acts of kindness are true love. Silent forgiveness is unconditional love.' For some reason, as I was taking the pictures of these very soft but hardy flowers these words really resonated with me.
Camellias are also symbols of good luck when they are given as gifts.
In Japanese culture, this flower is also symbolic of the Samurai as they often have short lives much like the life of a Camellia flower.