We were so fortunate last year to have had beautiful videos made of our gorgeous herb gardens that we lovingly tend down at The Cleveland Botanical Gardens. We are closed right now due to Covid -19, but this gives us the perfect opportunity to show these off! I'll be putting a new one up every couple of days!
Be safe and be well! Spring in it's full glory is coming soon!
Beth Schreibman Gehring Chairman of Education- Western Reserve Herb Society
By Beth Schreibman Gehring -Chairman of Education Western Reserve Herb Society
This was written by my husband Jim one day after he came to pick me up from working in our beautiful Western Reserve Herb gardens.
Strolling through a large garden I found myself captivated by the smile on the Gardener's face, so I stopped for a moment to watch her at work. She looked up at me, stood up-right and in a wonderfully gentle voice she asked "can there be a more lovely day?" Finding myself in the midst of this most colorful garden with a bright blue sky and pleasant warm sunshine I not only agreed, I knew it was true.
"It is indeed just so lovely" I replied.
I paused for a moment, but eager to keep the conversation going I asked her the first question that came to mind, "What do you do with your time when you are not in this beautiful garden?"
She looked at me and asked, "when am I not in my garden?" as a large grin spread across her cheeks revealing the most wonderful and generous wrinkles of joy.
"Yes", I said, now feeling even more inspired. "How about before you fall asleep or when you wake up?" I asked, sincerely wondering how she lived life outside this beautiful place that she obviously took such great pleasure in.
"That just might be the times when I do my best gardening work" she said, relaxing herself for a moment as she engaged me in conversation.
As she continued I noticed a natural patience in her demeanor, which was easily portrayed by her soft and smooth voice. "Every night just before I fall asleep I am enveloped in the feeling of gardens to come, the one's that express such beauty and joy as I have yet to produce. I know they are coming, because as I "see" these wonderful visions I can feel them as if they are real, I can smell them and touch them so vividly. They are to me in that moment as real as where you and I are standing right now. “
My mind was mesmerized by this picture she had so gracefully painted for me. My feelings rested contently in this garden vision, full of such beauty that was beyond the glorious place where we were both standing.
"Of course, she laughed, my mornings are something else altogether".
"I awake in the morning and in that moment I am present to a feeling of appreciation for all the joy and wonder that awaits me!"
then looked at me and continued...
"The morning is when my feelings take root, backed by the images that spring forth in my mind, to bear fruit throughout the day, much like the seeds I tend here in this very garden."
"We often refer to it as gratitude, or appreciation, but for me it is like gardening, for when I open my eyes in the morning that is where my craft begins. I know in my heart that to be a good gardener it is so important to tend the soil, and to ensure the seeds have the right amount of sunlight, and always provide the right amount of water based on the unique characteristics of your plants."
She paused again, without a motion, as if to just take in the beauty that comes from an unseen place that at that very moment surrounded us.
"I feel that gardening has given me a gift for creating beauty both here" she said gesturing to the landscape around us, "and here" she said as she softly reached up resting her hand in the center of her chest. "It’s as if the sunshine, water and soil are just symbols for the thoughts, feelings and actions that, when properly tended to, ensures the same richness of experience in life as a well-tended garden, bringing to our senses the most wonderful sites, tastes and smells! "
She leaned upon her spade and smiled.
After a moments pause, she looked at me directly, eyes filled with a soft twinkle, choosing her final words with care. “For me it is such a blessing to know that one's life can be so whole and complete, no matter your career or passion. I guess you could say that I am, simply put, a peaceful happy gardener – both within and without, wherever I go, now in this conversation, while I eat and yes, even when I sleep. It brings me such joy that I cannot help but to wish this blessing for everyone I know.”
Written by Beth Schreibman Gehring, Chairman of Education and Public Relations for The Western Reserve Herb Society. Beth is owned by 17 sets of vintage dishes, a cat, dog, several horses, a swarm of wild honeybees, a garden full of herbs, old roses and many bottles of vintage perfume!
“Love, which, in concert with Abstinence, established Faith, and which, along with Patience, builds up Chastity, is like the columns that sustain the four corners of a house. For it was that same Love which planted a glorious garden redolent with precious herbs and noble flowers–roses and lilies–which breathed forth a wondrous fragrance, that garden on which the true Solomon was accustomed to feast his eyes.“ – Hildegard of Bingen
My husband says I seem to wake up craving roses and sleep dreaming of them. Maybe it’s because the scent and flavor of the beautiful historic and fragrant roses in my gardens bring back so many of my best memories. They remind me of my father and the happy times that I spent with him in his rose gardens. Or maybe it’s because the magic spell of the roses helps my skin stay happy and smooth and my heart stay open and gentle.
The entire Western Reserve Herb Society Herb garden is glorious, but it is the Historic Rose Gardens that are just so overwhelmingly beautiful to me. When they bloom, it is a site to behold and feast for all of the senses. I spend about two weeks doing nothing but harvesting and drying rose petals from them to make wonderful products for our Herb Fair which will be held this year at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens on October the 12th.
“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives”. Gertrude Jekyll
The Historic Rose Gardens of the Western Reserve Herb Society cannot ever be celebrated without mention of the three beloved Rosarians and Master gardeners who still lovingly tend the beautiful roses as they have for so many years. Judy Kutina, Jane Cavanaugh and Gwen Zeitz, can still be found in the garden every week caring for this extraordinary and historically relevant collection of roses, with the help of current Rose Garden Chair/ WRHS Unit Chair Kathleen Hale and other Western Reserve Herb Society gardeners. Richard Behrens and Robin Johansen, both employees of the Cleveland Botanical Garden are also the treasured friends and gifted gardeners who work side by side with everyone in the Western Reserve Herb Gardens.
“In 2012, the WRHS Historic Rose Garden became the proud recipient of the Certification of the Historic Rose Collection from the Herb Society of America. This rose garden was the first rose collection in the United States to receive this recognition. Starting with Blanche Harvey, who researched and planted some of the most cherished historic roses in the collection, Judy Kutina, Section Chair along with Jean Ingalls (Past Chair) and the members of their committee, (Jane Cavanaugh, Gwen Zeitz, Toni Becker, Debra Brink and Nancy Gustafson) documented the historic authenticity of each rose. A bronze plaque was placed in the historic rose collection on June 5th, 2012, commemorating this honor, placing the Collection in the elite company of the National herb Garden in Washington DC and the Chicago Botanical Garden. “ From 50 seasons of growing- The Western Reserve Herb Society Herb Garden 1969- 2019
Getting this certification from the Herb Society of America was a four year project, meaning that all of the renovating, documentation identification and research began 4 years before the actual certification was granted.
Judy Kutina, Jane Cavanaugh and Gwen Zeitz, along with beloved and dearly missed member Jean Ingalls were the 4 Western Reserve Herb Society members who were absolutely instrumental in insuring that the garden met every classification needed for this special certification. It was a four year long labor of love, inspiration and incredibly hard work.
I was able to find this wonderful quote from the June 14th 2012 Plain Dealer from Rosarian Judy Kutina who was Chair of the Rose Garden and who devoted her life to this project for 4 years along with the others.
“ This award means that we are to use these roses for education and research and propagate them for posterity. They will be recognized around the world as a pristine collection. “
I do not know anyone who has come into our gardens when the roses are in full bloom who have not been touched, moved and completely inspired by them. The fragrance of this garden in full bloom is overwhelmingly gorgeous. People wait all year long for those three special weeks in the spring when the roses are the brightest stars in our gardens.
Jane, Judy and Gwen have devoted 50 years of service and countless volunteer hours between them to the development and care of this beautiful and historically relevant rose garden and it is because of their ongoing passion for the roses in their care and the incredible knowledge base that they possess between the three of them that these roses, many of them original plantings, continue, to flourish well into this century. It is because of their efforts and utter devotion that the WRHS Historic and Species Rose Garden explodes with beauty, flavor and fragrance every year.
When it comes to the roses in our WRHS garden, we all have favorites. Mine is the beautiful and ancient Rosa gallica officinalis, more commonly known as Apothecary’s Rose.
The Apothecary’s Rose is just a joy, a rose older than the Renaissance and used for medicinal purposes during Medieval times. It is extraordinarily beautiful to see and smell when blooming. Its intense, deep pink to light red coloring and luscious old rose fragrance make it a must in any herbalist’s garden. It is also thought by many to be the ‘Red Rose of Lancaster’, the symbol chosen by the House of Lancaster at the time of the War of the Roses, one of England’s dynastic civil wars that took place from approximately 1455 to 1485 and preceded the House of Tudor.
I have always found it easy to grow, which may be the source of its longevity and popularity. It only blooms once in a season, but it’s a generous rose. Mine has been blooming for more than a month. I return to it time and again to make rose waters, jams and jellies.
It gives me a real thrill of connection to my medieval sisters to be able to use this ancient rose to infuse into my rose honey and other rose preparations. I find rose-infused honey to be ever so helpful when I have a sore or scratchy throat and although you can buy it, it is just so easy to make. Stirred into a cup of hot water, or simply taken by the spoonful, the anti-inflammatory properties of the rose petals and the antibacterial properties of the honey seem to relieve any irritation quickly.
Rose Petal Honey
6 cups fresh rose petals (4 cups dried)
2 cups honey, room temperature
1-quart glass jar with lid
Add petals to the jar until half full and firmly packed. Pour honey over rose petals and stir to remove air pockets. Cap the jar tightly. After several hours stir petals and honey. (I use chopsticks for this.) Add more rose petals and stir. Leave the jar in a warm place for about two weeks, stirring from time to time.
After two to four weeks, warm the jar in a pot of hot water (do not boil). Strain the warmed honey through a cheesecloth into a clean jar. Press the rose petals to remove all honey. Cap the jar and enjoy on toast, over yogurt, with ice cream and in cocktails.
I use rose water in my drinks consistently because I believe that it is so helpful for hydrating the skin from the inside out.
I also spray rose hydrosol (a fancy name for rosewater!) every morning after my shower to moisturize my aging skin. I spent way too much time in the sun without sunscreen as a teenager and I have noticed that this daily spritzing with rosewater seems to have softened some of my wrinkles as well as tightens my pores.
It has been an absolutely glorious season in Northeast Ohio for all of the roses this year and they’re still blooming everywhere, so why don’t you join on my porch for a mid-afternoon rose milk.? This is my absolute favorite afternoon drink...so delicious and just so very pretty. All roses are edible, but please remember to always use unsprayed rose petals in any recipe whether you consume it or smooth it onto your skin!
This recipe is easy and delicious and is an old Ayurvedic recipe from India that has been used for centuries to cool down the body. Although I don’t drink milk myself, you can easily substitute regular whole milk and some heavy cream if you like! To start, you’ll need a pot of rose tea! Steep until very strong, but not bitter and strain. Put a cup or two of hot coconut milk infused with rose tea, a teaspoon of MCT oil (fractionated coconut oil), some raw honey and a handful of fresh unsprayed rose petals into a Vitamix or blender and blend on high for a minute until frothy then chill! Pour into a lovely glass, find your porch swing and just relax.
Roses are known to be just wonderful for the nervous system , soothing and nourishing for the skin and the MCT oil, which is simply fractionated coconut oil is so good for supporting relaxation and focus.
I generally look to my favorite flower when I’m feeling a bit tense and I’ve discovered over the years (and this is backed by Hildegard herself!) that drinking rose water definitely has the ability to enhance my mood and relieve feelings of anxiety and stress. I drink a simple tea of rose water and almond milk often if my stomach is upset or if I’m feeling bloated from eating too many of the wrong foods, usually in my case, gluten or dairy products.
I throw a handful of fresh or dried rose petals into my teapot with another handful of fresh spearmint, another well known digestive. Steep for about ten minute and add some raw honey and almond milk. Sipping this tea, I’ll generally begin to feel better very quickly , as the beneficial anti-inflammatory effects of the rose water begins to take effect. One thing that I have noticed is that rose waters, milks and tea always seem to help with bloating and fluid retention and my research does back this up.
I’d love to know some of your favorite uses for your favorite roses, so please feel free to share them with me in the comments.
May everything be coming up roses for you all summer long!
Western Reserve Herb Society Medicinal Disclaimer:
In accordance with FDA and other government entity rules: the information and products you may learn about in regards to Herbal Wellness as a result of your association with WRHS are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You, and you alone, are legally responsible for any and all decisions you make regarding the health of yourself, your family and your friends and even your pets. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have learned as a result of your association with WRHS. Reliance on any information provided by The Western Reserve Herb Society, members teaching or writing for WRHS or guests speaking at the invitation of WRHS , is used solely at your own risk.