Fall Equinox Yarden Walk

Fall Equinox Yarden Walk

It’s harvest time! What are you gathering and bringing into your life now that we’ve reached the Fall Equinox? The seasons (and the yarden) often reflect our inner lives. 

Join us in cherishing what they put forth, and follow along with Sylla as she takes you on this 2019 Fall Equinox Yarden Walk.

In this Yarden Walk, you’ll discover:

  • How to make a Jasmine infusion.
  • An unusual garden pest.
  • How Sylla makes compost.
  • One of Sylla’s favorite trees.
  • How the rock pile just keeps rolling.



So, what are you putting into your compost? Both in your yarden and in your life? What are you are cutting back to help fuel the next stage of your growth?

Leave us a comment below! 

If you love the Yarden Walks, then you’ll love the Atlantic Aromatic Library

This is our virtual classroom, where you can learn with us at any time in the garden, the classroom, and beyond! We’ve even got special Yarden Walk videos that you can’t see anywhere else! 


Summer Solstice Yarden Walk

Summer Solstice Yarden Walk

Are you out there enjoying the slowness of summer? Summer is a really slow time for us here in Florida because it’s just so hot outside!

Learning to live more in sync with the natural world means learning to honor the cycles that surround us. Nature is teaching this lesson all the time. In the Spring of 2018, we began filming Yarden Walks—where I follow Mom around her yarden as she talks about the plants she’s got growing there.

True to the season, we went fallow for the winter and haven’t filmed another one since. Okay, in all honesty, we did film one in the spring, but it was never edited, so we weren’t able to release it on time. Read more to find out how you can view that Yarden Walk!

Summer Solstice is about bringing everything out into the light, so we thought this would be a great way to reintroduce a series that many of you have been asking for.

Paying attention to the Wheel of the Year helps us notice the ways in which we’ve grown. We’ve been reflecting on all that we’ve learned since last year. You can read more about the Summer Solstice and what was happening for us last year at this time here, but you’ll have to watch the video below to hear about what’s happening now!

In this Yarden Walk, you’ll discover:

  • How Sylla’s Vetiver Experiment is going.
  • Two simple summer infusions you can do at home.
  • How you can begin learning plant identification.
  • What to do when your rock pile falls over.


QUIZ TIME: While editing this video, we realized Sylla said something that was not quite right. Did you hear what it was? We decided to use it as a quiz to test your knowledge. Scroll to the very bottom to find out what it was.

You can also read about our first Vetiver harvest here and learn more about Marc Williams here

Now we want to know: What are you doing with your summer garden/yarden? What’s getting you outside during these long, hot days? Leave us a comment below!

Remember, everything has a season and this one will pass before we know it. At least, that’s one of the ways we survive the long, hot days here. : ) 

If you’d like to see all of our Yarden Walks, join the Atlantic Aromatic Library. You’ll be able to see the Spring 2019 Yarden Walk. Plus you’ll receive hours of lessons on aromatherapy, plant medicine, and holistic healing.






Quiz Answer: Remember when Sylla was describing the Summer Solstice  … Well, she was actually describing the Spring and Fall Equinoxes. That’s when we have equal amounts of light and dark each day. At Summer Solstice, the day is the longest it will be all year, while the night is the shortest it will be.

Do you ever say one thing when you mean another?

I did it when I said, “It’s Spring Equinox!” to the students in the Fill Your Cup class that Sunday. Wonder where I get it from … ? 🤔

Using Herbs from the Garden

Using Herbs from the Garden


One of the things I remember most about growing up with my mom is her herb garden.


Our friend Billy came and installed a raised bed with cinderblocks and bricks when I was four years old. It wasn’t long before I was pinching the Rosemary, Basil, Oregano, and Sage to smell their unique aromas.


It’s so amazing when I think about it—how we’ve figured out that we can distill these plants and collect concentrated essences of what we smell. I’ve worked with oils in bottles for a long time. I’m familiar with how to dilute them and use them in blends, but I’m just now starting to get to know the herbs themselves.


It feels like coming home.


In the Atlantic Aromatic Library, we regularly walk with Sylla through her garden (or as she calls it, her “yarden”) to see what’s going on. I love how the garden contains so many life lessons.

This time around, Sylla explains that you’ve got to cut back the abundance of growth from the summer. That way, you can get rid of what’s run its course or isn’t growing, to make room for what’s yet to come.


Here’s the great part about cutting back: you get to enjoy what you reap! For Sylla, this means collecting and drying all the herbs that she’s been growing.

Herbs de Sylla’s Yarden

Ever since her trip to France in the 90’s (and presumably after she ran out of the herbs that she got there), she’s collected and dried her yarden herbs, calling them “Herbs de Sylla’s Yarden.”

This time around, she’s got:
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Basil
  • Fennel
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint


Some, like the mints, she’ll use in tea. Others, like the Oregano and Marjoram, she’ll dry and sprinkle on meals. The rest she will save and give as gifts to her friends.



What a simple and fun way to use what you’ve got! What herbs will you cut back and use in your kitchen? Leave us a comment below!
How to Grow and Harvest Vetiver

How to Grow and Harvest Vetiver

Vetiver is one of our favorite essential oils. (We’ve used it in a number of our Recipes and Blending Guides in the Atlantic Aromatic Library.) In a blend, it offers a deep, rich, earthy tone. Therapeutically, it also has great anti-inflammatory and grounding properties.  

It’s always an incredible experience to get to know the plants of the oils we love so dear. Being a member of the Grass Family, Vetiver is pretty easy to grow here in Florida, so I have enjoyed growing it, harvesting it, and sharing it with friends!

My first harvest was a couple of years ago, yielding one little ball, which we gave to Timothy Miller when we met him for lunch in January of 2017. We told him it was to help bring him back to Florida soon, and it worked! He ended up teaching a class here that October.

I replanted the stalks from that harvest, and they produced three giant plants, so I began digging up around them. I’ve seen videos of a much larger Vetiver production, where they used a tractor to chain off a 10-foot wide plant and lift it after a six-foot hole had been dug around the roots. My smaller, three-foot plants were difficult enough. Next time, I’m putting the roots in a pipe, so that I can retrieve the roots more easily.

My friend Rehne in LA got me started on growing Vetiver by sending me some of my first stalks. Rehne plants her Vetiver in a 12-inch galvanized pipe that’s been cut and put back together—placing it partially in the ground. With this method, harvest is easy. Pull out the pipe, open it, and voila!

Where are those pipes when I need them? At least I know now and will try that this year.

Now, harvesting is quite the experience. The smell of the Vetiver is instant—as soon as the shovel hits the soil. The sound of breaking roots was inevitable, and as I dug deeper, the roots revealed themselves.

Once the roots are washed, they are white and plump, and they smell of earth. This smell permeated my porch for the next week.

Once trimmed of their leaves, I cut the roots off. Then I began to separate them into stems with a bit of root for replanting. Once the roots were free, they got several soakings, power squirts, and more soaking to clean them of dirt. Drying overnight, they easily dropped the dry sand the more I cleaned the stalks. I separated the rootless and now they’re ready to replant—this time in pipes. It was a messy job separating the stalks; once done, I gave the roots a final trim and collected a few small pieces that I can use for incense!

I made one ball for a friend, a tradition we started with the first harvest last year. Tried to do another, but I may end up weaving these fibers to make a fragrant basket! Perhaps with a bit of Lavender?


Have you ever grown Vetiver? If so, what did you do with it? Leave us a comment below!

If you’d like to grow your own, I have plenty to share! Contact me and I’ll send you one while they last.

Memorial Yarden Walk for Summer Solstice

Memorial Yarden Walk for Summer Solstice

Right after we filmed our Summer Yarden Walk for the Atlantic Aromatic Library, we found out about the passing of our good friend and plant-brother, Billy Daniel. We decided to share this Yarden Walk with everyone in memory of his passing.

In Sylla’s Words:

My entire yarden began with a single 20×3-foot bed, put in by my friend Billy, an herb-grower, about 30 years ago. Sweet William Herbs was what he called his business, as he grew and sold plants. Over the years, my garden grew, expanded to raised beds, and eventually became what it is today: fruit trees, herbs, and aromatic and butterfly plants. It even expanded to the Upward Spiral Center. Billy brought us dirt, compost, mulch, and so much joy. He returned yearly to take cuttings from my rosemary and collect lemongrass seed to replant in his greenhouses.

We will dearly miss this funny musician plant-grower. We dedicate this Summer Solstice Yarden Walk to him, my friend Billy.

In celebration of the Summer Solstice, Sylla filmed her own Yarden Walk. And guess what …

It’s Lavender harvest time! At the height of summer, Sylla decided that it was time to harvest her Lavender. In this special video, she also reminisces to about 20 years ago, when she visited France and experienced a Jasmine Harvest.

In this video, you’ll see:

  • Sylla gathering Lavender with her scythe.
  • Rare aromatic footage from 1997.
  • Echinacea going to seed.
  • A plump avocado.
  • What the squirrels are up to.

“Yesterday” …

Sylla is reminded of her trip with Michael Scholes to France in 1997. You can hear his voice in a funny moment with the Italian migrant pickers in Grasse in the Provence Region. Michael hosted this tour of the Perfume district, which he called, The Espirit de France. Read Sylla’s review of this tour here. 

Our group of students got to help harvest and witness a moment of unity with the singalong of a cherished Beatles tune.

We had already filmed this Yarden Walk before we heard about Billy’s passing. It makes the singing so much more sweet. Not just the words of the song but how it so aptly represents Billy’s nature; he was one that was always known to break into song.

Sylla was planning to visit Billy the next week to film his greenhouse and plants. The last time she saw him, he gave her 18 new Rosemary plants and said “I’m getting it cleaned and ready for you.”  Though we won’t get to share Billy’s humor and wisdom in the way we planned, we hope his spirit shines through in all we do.


Introduction to the Grass Family

Introduction to the Grass Family

Let’s talk about grass … No, not the kind you’ll find on your lawn or the smoking kind!

Let’s talk about the aromatic grasses in the family of Poaceae (or formerly Gramineae).

Some interesting facts about this botanical family:

  • They are known as the nutritious grass family.
  • Grasses are one of our most important sources of fiber.
  • They are the most successful of all flowering plants.
  • Wheat, rice, corn, and barley are the most well-known leaves and seeds
  • They’re often used as ground covering and have a large root system.

The Poaceae family (formerly known as Gramineae) has 737 genera and 7,950 species which are distributed throughout the world. However, the plants grown in the tropics are grass-like and produce scent! These are the ones we like.

In fact, so many of the essential oils you may know and love come from this family.  These include plants like: Lemongrass, Palmarosa, Citronella, Gingergrass from the genus Cymbopogon, and Vetiver from the Vetiveria genus. These are the oils most commonly used from the Poaceae (or Gramineae) family. We have several to choose from—each with slightly different scents depending on where they’re grown.

Getting to know the botanical names and families of the oils you’re using really helps to expand your understanding of them.

Here are some examples of the the aromatic plants from the Poaceae family:

Cymbopogon citratus (Andropogon citratus, A. shoenathus): Lemongrass (West Indian)

Cymbopogon flexuosus (Andropogon flexuosus): East Indian Lemongrass

Cymbopogon martinii (Andropogon martinii): Rosha; two eco-chemotypes:

  • var. martinii (var. motia): Palmarosa, motia, East Indian Geranium, Turkish Geranium, Indian rosha
  • var. sofia: gingergrass, sofia

Cymbopogon nardus (Andropogon nardus): Citronella, two varieties exist:

  • var. nardus: Ceylon Citronella, Lenabatu Citronella
  • var. confertiflorus

Cymbopogon pendulus (Andropogon pendulus): Jammu Lemongrass

Cymbopogon winterianus: Java Citronella

Vetiveria zizanoides (Andropogon muricatus): Vetiver, khus khus, vetivert oil

If you’re an essential oil user,  you’re likely to be familiar with at least one of these oils!

What Grasses Do

The Cymbopogon genus comprises over 50 species of tropical grasses, many of which are essential oil bearing; Lemongrass, Citronella, and Palmarosa in particular. These oils are mostly comprised of components from the chemical families of aldehydes and alcohols; they include citral and geranial, and they must always be diluted appropriately. We recommend no more than 15 drops per ounce for a normal adult with healthy skin, but less could easily be used and still produce similar effects.

When we look at their actions, we can summarize a few things about the aromatic oils in this family: they are air-cleansing, calming, sedative, restorative, and refreshing.

Their domain of action on the human body systems are:  

  • respiratory (disinfectant)
  • circulatory and digestive stimulant
  • skin tonic

Indications for use:

  • deodorize air
  • calm digestion
  • cleanse and balance skin (acne, etc.)

Do you have a favorite of the grasses? What do you like to use Lemongrass, Citronella, Palmarosa, and Vetiver for?

Leave us a comment on how you use your grasses! We love reading your comments and seeing how creative and insightful you all are. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

Sylla’s Lemongrass recently went to seed and it ready to start propagating again. Check out this preview of one of her Yarden Walks. (See the full video in the Atlantic Aromatic Library)