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 Inner Sanctum, 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:
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!
Vetiver is one of our favorite essential oils. (We’ve used it in a number of our Recipes and Blending Guides in the Inner Sanctum.) 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.
Right after we filmed our Summer Yarden Walk for the Inner Sanctum, 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 has 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
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 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.
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My mom has many loves, especially when it comes to the plant world.
We recently recorded a video of her taking a walk through her yarden (yard-turned-garden) for our new membership, the Inner Sanctum—starting in a few short weeks!
The funny thing is that after reviewing the footage, we realized that she calls more than one plant her “all-time favorite plant.” That’s mom for ya!
Check out this sneak-preview of our Yarden Walk video series, found only in the Inner Sanctum.
In this video, you’ll be introduced to:
All of the lush, aromatic plants in Sylla’s yarden
Sylla’s replanting process for her Lavender and Rose Geranium
Tricks to encourage your plants to sprawl
Some of the plants that have been with Sylla for 20 years
The Yarden Walk Series is becoming one of our favorite parts of the Inner Sanctum. Every six weeks or so, we will check in with the yarden as the seasons change. We had a lot of fun with the Spring Equinox Yarden Walk—one of the many things awaiting you in this membership!