By: Mary Ellen Ellis
Growing a garden spa requires some planning and forethought but is well worth the effort. Whether you want a garden that will help stock your spa cupboard with homemade tonics and lotions or you just want a spa like retreat outdoors, choosing the right plants is essential.
A spa garden can have one or two purposes: To grow spa herbs that you can use in bath products such as lotions, sugar scrubs, and facial masks OR to create a space that gives you a relaxing, restorative spa feel.
There is every reason to do both. Create a beautiful garden that you can sit in and enjoy while also growing useful and fragrant herbs for your indoor spa session.
When planning a spa in the garden, consider the plants you want to use for your spa treatments and the feel you want in the outdoor space. Think about the fragrances you find most relaxing, like rose or lavender.
Do you enjoy seeing birds? If so, include a bird bath. If you want a place where you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea or a good book, make sure you plan for a comfortable seating area. A water feature may help to make the space more relaxing as well, think a pond or a small fountain if space is limited.
There are many great plants for a spa experience that you can choose from. For an outdoor spa area, use plants you enjoy. Include fragrant herbs that can also be used in spa products. Some great options include:
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With the time at home recently, we have all been inspired to think about how we can make our homes into more relaxing sanctuaries. Aromatherapy might be at the heart of the spa experience, but much of it starts with the power of plants, and it’s the perfect time of year to tend to the garden. Here are a few you might want to include to create your own aromatherapy garden…
For a creative twist on raised bed or container garden, give old vintage bathtubs a try! Vintage tubs add instant charm and character to outdoor garden areas. With many different shapes and sizes to choose from at local thrift stores, flea markets, and antique boutiques, vintage bathtubs are on our gardening must have lists for this upcoming garden season.
We’ve set out to share a few vintage tub gardening ideas to help wake up that green thumb and get your gardens planned. Here are three easy steps to planting your bathtub garden. The bathtub sets forth great space and good drainage, making a great planting container. Here’s what you need to know:
Since vintage tubs are small compared to an average garden plot, consider filling yours with your smaller, simpler garden items. If you plant larger plants, like tomatoes, limit the number of plants to give them space.
Imagine planting just your salad greens for a specialty garden in a tub. Or, in addition to your salad greens, grow a salad garden by adding a few carrot plants and some space saving tomato varieties along with those greens. An herb garden makes a happy companion to an old tub garden, and a simple flower garden planted in a vintage tub easily becomes the highlight of a garden landscape.
Once you’ve decided what to plant, you’ll want to carefully consider how to prepare your vintage tub for ultimate garden success. Placement of your tub is important. Vegetables need a sunny location, so if you’re hoping for a bumper crop, place your tub in a location where it will receive full sun. On the other hand, certain flowers wilt in the heat of the day and will need a little shade. Plan the placement of your tub according to the needs of your plants.
Drainage plays a key role in the goal of gardening success. Many old tubs will have a drain, but some galvanized metal tubs will not. You can drill holes into the bottoms of galvanized metal tubs to provide the necessary drainage.
For additional drainage in a vintage tub, purchase a bag or two of lava rock or drainage rock. Spread a layer of the rock several inches deep over the bottom of the tub. You can slope your rock layer by angling the layer of rock down toward the drain.
After you’ve addressed the drainage of your vintage tub, your important next step will be to fill the bulk area of the tub. Before you buy bags and bags of expensive soil though, consider using inexpensive filler for some of the empty space in your vintage tub. Vegetables and plants require a soil depth of eight inches at most. Since vintage tubs are deep, fill some of that empty space with Styrofoam packaging peanuts or another space filler you have around the house or yard.
After you’ve layered rocks for drainage and filled in some of the extra space, a proper mix of soil is essential. Plants need air as well as water. Well draining soil helps create the right balance of the two. For containers, an appropriate soil mix involves a one third portion of garden soil, one third part compost, and a third part peat moss. Mix these three together well in a wheelbarrow. Fill your vintage tub to within a two inches of the rim with the soil mix.
When you place your plants in the soil, make sure each gets enough space to grow. Consider your plants’ estimated mature size, and allow for plenty of elbowroom. Avoid overcrowding.
Finally, water your new plants. For the first watering, moisten the soil thoroughly. Allow the water to soak into the deeper soil and down to the roots. Then moisten the soil again until the top layer of soil stays moist. Keep your new plants well watered for the first couple of weeks. Then, depending on your plants, scale back to a regular daily or even weekly watering schedule.
Get to know the plants in your vintage tub well. They will tell you when they need more water by wilting or looking a bit droopy. Not watering enough is easier to fix than overwatering, so know the needs of your plants and plan for a healthy watering schedule.
With these handy tips and ideas, you’re sure to have a successful and enjoyable vintage tub garden!
Some herbs are easy to start from seed, but others take a long time to germinate. Buy slow-growers at a nursery or divide existing plants. In some cases, you can grow new plants from cuttings.
Before sowing any herb, whether in seed-starting trays or directly in the garden, read the seed packet, which will give you important information. Herbs that are easy to grow from seed include:
Perennial herbs can be divided easily. Use a garden fork to dig up the plant's root system and either pull the roots apart by hand (as with chives), or cut the root mass into several pieces and replant them elsewhere in the garden. You can also put small divisions in pots to grow indoors during the winter. If the divisions are to be used outdoors, the best time to divide is fall, when they are winding down for the year. When divided and replanted in autumn, plants get established faster.
Perennial herbs that respond well to division include:
Stem cuttings of suitable herbs should be taken in spring or summer, when plants are healthy and growing vigorously. Rosemary and tarragon tend to root better in the fall, so use them for cuttings at that time and grow them indoors over the winter. Good choices for cuttings:
I'm Stephanie Rose. I started gardening as a way to heal from a debilitating illness and it changed everything: the food I eat, the products I use on my body, and, most importantly, how I live.
Now, I'm on a mission to help you live a better life through plants.
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For an aromatherapy garden, think about the scents that you’re drawn to – that’s always a good place to start. You will notice that many therapists begin a treatment with a smell test, drawing on the idea that you are attracted to the aromas that you need.
Lemon Verbena: Citrus scents are among the most popular in aromatherapy and there are a number of wonderful lemon scented garden plants. Lemon Verbena offers a classic citrus scent and is known for its calming effect, as well as helping with tight muscles, and minor aches and pains. Alternatives are lemon thyme, lemon basil or lemon balm.
Lavender: It is a classic garden plant as well as aromatherapy favourite. It’s known for relaxation, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory and is really good for helping to heal the skin or for a headache.
Rosemary: Rosemary is often used in massages as it’s brilliant for stimulating the circulation. It goes into your bloodstream and stimulates blood flow, clearing out toxins from the muscles. Use it in a massage oil or body lotion.
Geranium: For anything from your period to post pregnancy (after breastfeeding), geranium is often used to help balance hormones and to energise.
Chamomile: Pollinators love this easy to grow herb, which forms a carpet on the ground. With its relaxing and beautiful scent, chamomile pairs well with many other aromatherapy garden plants and is excellent as a calming tea before bed with a teaspoon of honey.
Mint: Mint is an abundant herb so it’s best to keep it in pots than plant it in the ground otherwise it has a tendency to take over. Easy to serve as an infusion with hot water, it is good for digestion and can help ease headaches and nausea.
Roses: The seasonal blooms of these romantic favourites can be used in all sorts of ways around the house, as well as bringing joy. Confidence building, skin toning and spiritually nurturing it’s anxiety reducing and has even been known as an aphrodisiac. Create your own rosewater to put in the iron for sweet smelling linens, or to spray around the house.
The range of herbs and flowers that you can include in an aromatherapy garden are abundant, so use it as an opportunity to really have fun and explore. That said, before ingesting or using any herbs or plants topically on yourself or anyone else, please seek advice from a healthcare professional.