Garden Scents, Garden Work
A Walk in Jeanne Rose's Garden
Narrated by Jeanne Rose – 1994
Added to in Spring 2004
Kitchen A • • •
| Today is April 27, 1994, Wednesday. We will take a walk through the garden. I am going to lead you through my garden that I call a Scented Garden and a Working Garden. It's a working garden because every single item that is in it, is used for beauty care, body care, aromatherapy treatments, the making of essential oils, the distillation of these oils and the making of hydrosols for use commercially or as therapy for various ailments.
We will start on the third floor in the kitchen. You can stand there and look out the kitchen window to the East and you see the head of Lestersaurus,
the Giant Rose-Easting Dragon. He is painted as a mural on the wall of the home opposite my windows. He is 30 feet high and 18 feet wide, green with a brown belly and he stands in his Rose tree. Lester is painted on the wall with brilliant mural colors. He is a vegetarian Tyrannosaurus Rex and only eats Roses.
Luna moth across from kitchen
to the East
| Below Lester's head, you can see a giant green
Luna moth. The view of this mural is different from each of the other 9 windows that open onto the mural. Three of the window scenes can be viewed from the flat below and 4 from other rooms at my home at 219 Carl St. Two can be seen from the 1st level herb room. The mural is called "Nine Windows on the Past." You should know that each house in San Francisco is separated by 3 feet towards the back and touching towards the street, so the dragon is never more than 4 feet away from you and cannot be seen from any other house. His head is 3 feet high and a foot and a half wide. He is 30 feet high and 18 feet wide. So he is really a huge, huge beast. Full size you might say. The Luna moth is also 18 inches wide by 2 feet long. It is a giant representation of what was possible in prehistoric times.
In the kitchen window that faces the South, you can see the next-door neighbor's savanna, a huge expanse of lush unmowed lawn. Very verdant, very green, but a monoculture and very plain.
Porch B • • •
|As you walk through the kitchen into the back porch, you can begin to see Jeanne Rose's lovely garden. On the back porch itself and to the right is a greenhouse and in a hanging pot is
Lady's Mantle, the dew of the leaves was used to keep breasts from drooping. Other plants include Basil, used as a culinary, various cultivars of
Lavender angustifolia and Lavender x intermedia. Here is a cultivar called
L. grosso that produces a quantity of essential oil and represents 90% of the French production of Lavandin. One can produce 1 kilogram of essential oil from 35-50 kilograms (75-100 pounds) of flower tops. This oil can be purchased for about $10 a pound but that does not take into account the hydrosol. The hydrosol or water solution from distillation is the other product along with the essential oil. 40 kilograms of hydrosol will also be produced along with the essential oil and can be sold for $30 per kilogram. At this time, the spears of the Lavender flower are almost a foot long and the bud is beginning to form.
There is a gorgeous Gardenia filling the greenhouse with scent.
Sisters from Louise Riotte
| A small rose called
Seven Sisters with tiny, sweet buds is blossoming. I also have a large pot of
Peyote that has been growing in this same pot since 1967, which I intend to eat on the day I die as a passage to the other side.
Here you will find a Jalapeño pepper, and true Lavender, this one
Lavandula angustifolia delphinensis. This lavender is very small and just beginning to form buds. In all my Lavender plants, in all the alkaline-loving plants, in all the sun-loving plants, I put uncrushed oyster shells on the soil at the base of the plant. The oyster shell is there to attract the sun and reflect heat onto the plant. I live in San Francisco and in San Francisco, as you know it is cool, always cool. The oyster shell is there to attract the sun and reflect heat onto the plant. Simple remedies are sometimes the best ones to cure planting problems. There is sometimes not very much sun in San Francisco, the white of the oyster shell attracts the sun and slowly over a period, it will decompose leaving some calcium and lime in the soil. That too is good for the alkaline-loving herbs.
| There is a lovely
Thyme plant __ Thymus camphoratus in the corner of the greenhouse. This one can be distilled for a camphor-scented oil; the hydrosol is of special value as a wash or a spray for acne. In other pots, we have
Oregano, the Greek Oregano that is used as a culinary herb and seasoning and we have
Spring Onion, the tops are cut for culinary use. Both these plants have the oyster shells to attract the sun to the plant.
|Standing here at the back of the porch looking down at the yard, I have to look over what looks like a huge hedge of
Cécile Brunner Climbing Rose. I should not call it a hedge because it is actually a tree, it is 30 feet high, and it starts 2 stories down.
The Cécile Brunner Roses I have used many times for infusions. I can put it into a pot and make bath herbs, hair rinses, I have soaked it gently for a few hours and made wonderful flower teas and flower beverages with it.
Cécile Brunner, dating from 1894 produces a "sweetheart" rose; it is a pale pink, and lovely, small, peppery-scented rose blossom with a variety of uses.
Whenever Roses can be used, Cécile Brunner can be used. It also dries well and is used in potpourris.
|Other plants on the back porch include a giant
Parsley that is beginning to throw seed, a wonderful Spearmint, German Chamomile,
Tarragon, another type of Spearmint used for Mint Juleps, and a
Green Rose (Rosa chinensis viridiflora which dates from 1856). The
Green Rose is very odd with true green blossoms and coppery-colored foliage. Another variety of
Lavender is here called Lavender angustifolia sachet. It is only barely a year old, but is covered with small, tiny, scented Lavender blooms. The scent of the Sachet has more of a Lavandin scent, somewhat harsh, not nearly as delicate and sweet as I have smelled on other
Here is Lizard's Tail (Anemopsis californica), a plant from the Southwest used for swellings and to purify the blood, for infections that are healing poorly. There is a huge potted
Marigold, this is Calendula officinalis; we use it to make Calendula infused oil, as carrier oil in Aromatherapy. There are also many other uses for
Calendula and these are reported in the appropriate sections in all of my books.
There is a large Bay tree in a pot raised on lion pot-feet. We use Bay as a culinary herb and to make leafy necklaces for the sculpture in the garden.
The White Wisteria that grows on the North to East fence is already three stories tall. It is a wonderful lace-work of vines and in the beginning of April with only white flowers, it is very ethereal. The fragrance is very sweet, but at the end of April, the green leaves are beginning to fill out and it is no longer lacy. It is still lovely and as you look out from the top of the stairs, you look out onto a veritable (looks like a) floor of green leaves, and when you walk down the stairs, it is a ceiling of leaves.
|| To the right as you descend there is another little green house built into the back of the bench, filled with succulents. I assume that soon the succulents will have to be moved into the greenhouse where there is more sun rather than kept in this area which is becoming shadier with the growth of the
Wisteria. There is a variety of sculpture and artwork and ancient iron pieces up here and beautiful glass bottles. I use the glass bottles to make daily hydrosols; actually, they are sun distillates, from whatever blossoms are in bloom. Flowers are suspended in the glass, the fluid collects at the bottom, and I can use it as a toner for my skin.
There are also paperweights, crystals, a small stained glass window and bird feeding stations and the winter sundial. That means that in the winter on December 21st, or 20th, whenever solstice is, that the sun will hit this particular sundial and I can mark Solstice with it.
Wisteria ~ April 2005
we descend the stairs, there is a piece of art on the
left wall, a painting done by Spain Rodriguez,
who is a quite well known underground cartoonist. It is
a lady on a huge Indian motorcycle, a purple motorcycle.
The lady actually looks like me.
Lower Porch C • • •
|The back of the
house is painted as a rainforest, trees sprout from the
steps with lianas and ancient flowers and there are
runic symbols on the wall that you can see as you walk
down the stairs. There are potted Geraniums
hanging here. This one is Pelargonium crispa,
sold as a peach scent although it does not smell like
peaches to me, it has more of a fruity, green scent. I
also have Tooty Fruity, which is a spicy fruit scent. It
is very compact and in this hanging basket is already
beginning to send out runners. There is another, Pelargonium
fruiticosum that is a kind of a spidery,
lovely-scented geranium that is supposed to smell fruity
but does not. In addition, a couple of un-named hanging
scented Geraniums. Scented Geraniums are
wonderful additions to all sorts of culinary edibles and
cosmetic products. They are slightly astringent in
actions and fragrant in use. Two more pots that are on
the wall include Hyssop and Thyme that
have value as teas for asthma.
we hit the bottom of the stairs, you will see the first
of the fountains. It is a large oblong-shaped terra
cotta Medici trough. The water burbling up has a lovely
sound. In it is part of the collection of rocks and
shells that I have gathered through the years. Many were
collected when I was studying to be a marine biologist
in graduate school. To the left of the fountain is a
five-foot tall Pelargonium tomentosum that
is a Peppermint-scented Pelargonium. I collect
and distill it for the hydrosol to spray on my body when
I am having a hot flash. Under the windows of my
neighbor's kitchen, downstairs here at the back, are the
Apple-scented Geranium, Lime-scented Geranium
and the Nutmeg-scented Geranium and more of the Seven
Sisters Rose which I am trying to cultivate and a
couple of pots of Phlox douglasii which is
a tiny little plant needing acid soil and full sun. I
have no medicinal use for that.
Here I am now, at the back of the house, looking back
to the White Wisteria that climbs to the roof and
onto the back porch. The two doors of lower flat face
the garden and have lace panels from Country Curtains
called Scotch Lace with Roses, flowers, and hanging
bells. Lovely lace curtains. From here, you can see the
bottom two stories of the dragon. You can see his
big-clawed foot reaching over Triceratops. His other
foot is in a pond and the pond is filled with creatures
that would live underwater. There is also a giant
dragonfly that you can see best from the lower level
I am now at the bottom of my stairs leading into
the garden itself. To my immediate left, to the right of
the small fountain is a sculpture by Louise McGinley
called "The Takeover." It is a giant
frog sitting in a small village pond and the townsfolk
look really nervous. They're really tiny pottery people
only a quarter of an inch high, and the frog himself is
8 inches long with his behind in the village lake,
really a puddle of water to the frog. It is a beautiful
little sculpture that looks great in the garden.