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Why (and How!) to Plant Some Aromatherapy

BY malcolm thomas 06/09/2016

When Sarah Fox isn’t using her hands to make spangly, fresher-than-fresh jewelry or compact sculptures, the Cursive Design whiz is turning her seriously green thumb to her Chicago garden. The latest obsession to take root? Mining her patch of outdoor space for for a little homegrown aromatherapy. Here’s how to follow her scent.

 

FEEL THE ENERGY

“Every year I plant lots of herbs, like basil, mint, lemon verbena, rosemary, and lavender. They’re half dedicated to eating, and half dedicated to a being a perfume garden. The flowers I went with this year are mainly impatiens & dianthus. In the summer it's a daily ritual of mine to get out there in the early morning post-workout and take in some of the smells. It's a really energizing way to start the day. All the pinks, and all the smells!”

 

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SNIFF OUT THE RIGHT SPOT

I think the most important thing is to really understand the space you're growing in. What are the light conditions? Does that tree next door block the sun? My husband and I have lived in the same apartment for 11 years, and it took me a while to understand the space. But you also have to just jump in and try things. It's the only way you learn. Herbs are cheap and can be grown in small containers, so in addition to the scent, they’re a great place for beginners to start. I've gone through so many plants that didn't work, but I still enjoyed the process of growing them. A little heartbreak maybe if they didn't make it, but no regrets.

 

ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS

The good-smelling part of the garden peaks in the early part of the summer when the herbs aren't big enough to harvest yet. I go out there every morning to water them, and I swear getting a wiff of mint can almost replace coffee for me on some days. It's awesome to have this living, aromatic garden that I can turn to throughout the day, during a stressful moment.

 

PRESERVE THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS

I bundle the sage in the fall to keep around in the winter to burn. And I dry out the thyme and rosemary for cooking in soups and stews. It's so nice that something I grew lives on in the colder months with us. I do really enjoy that full cycle of growing something.

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