Feature With Us

Isn't Summertime Just Mint!

the retreat the sanctuary space Aug 13, 2020

By Susan Smalley

I love the taste of fresh mint – especially grown from my own garden. Grasping a head or two as I saunter down the pathway towards my seating area on the back patio, beneath twinkling lights and candle flames on a summer’s evening. The rosemary and sage, together with thyme, planted all across my borders in between scented roses, sweet peas and stocks, really are exquisite natural perfumes which surround me with a heady perfume of natural goodness.  

The market for room diffusers has literally gone through the roof as homeowners desperately try to enhance the ambience and smell of their day-to-day living or working spaces. Using artificial tones of scents to create inviting aromas.

Try growing herbs in the kitchen: rosemary keeps out flies and insects; basil and mint uplift and invigorate, tear off a few sprigs of mint for your summer gin and tonic; purple sage can be used as an instant addition to your cooking; use thyme upon pasta and pastries. The world of herbs, plants and flowers is not just for garden centres, stately homes or quaint countryside cottages!

Look at where you live. Where are you finding time to spend it outdoors in your own natural world? Not just walking through woodlands or visiting waterfalls once a week, but stepping into and onto a beautiful piece of heaven each day. Are you growing your own sanctuary to excite your soul in order to bring you peace and harmony within your emotions? Creating marvellous menus with produce you’ve grown. Have you got a cabbage patch, trench of leeks or tubs of tomato plants? Or, are you content to just have a few herbs on your kitchen window sill? I’ve loved growing herbs in all the gardens I have ever owned.

As a toddler I can recall sitting and running my small fingers across the face of a pansy to feel the soft velvety surface, bemused at the marking upon it which looked like a face staring back at me. During my childhood years, I spent many hours each day with my father George and grandad Abe in the allotments on top of the gorse moorlands which looked across towards Durham City. In fact, from the very middle allotment - which was slightly more raised - you could see 360 degrees all around the whole of the north east region. It really did feel like being on top of the world.

I was always filled with so much joy when I spent time with them, nurturing their show blooms of dahlias and chrysanthemums, in every size, shape and colour! I’ve pulled beetroot and carrots, parsnips and potatoes, turned over soil, weeded and marked out little troughs where cabbages and cauliflowers were planted. Huge stems of runner beans, French beans and broad beans towered above me. With all the garden canes propped and tied up, I could run through the centre of their tunnels which created such an adventure for me. Cabbage white butterflies fluttered their wings across thick, high patches of rhubarb and the entire back hedge was lined with gooseberry bushes, raspberries and blackberries. An apple tree stood at the bottom corner of the lower allotment along with a high barrel that caught rain. There was a whole world within those allotments, with canaries and budgies, pigeons, ferrets, sheep dogs, whippets, greyhounds, my pony Toby and two horses - black Prince and dappled grey Dolly. Across the top of the hill and the road, another large paddock sat on the edge of all the coconut-scented golden gorse bushes. This is where my dad taught me how to identify wild strawberries and where to find the natural spring waters, which we cupped to drink, on our many hacks out with the horses. 

My childhood began surrounded by nature, with my love of flowers and shrubs starting then, and has continued all the way through my life. When I took my needlework examination at the age of 16, I recall creating a beautiful linen table cloth featuring a lady in a crinoline dress, tending to her garden which was filled with ornamental standard roses, climbers, hands of brightly coloured flowers and trees bearing apples and pears. I achieved an O level with my stitchwork upon that piece of garden heaven. Then, when I was married at 19 years old and had bought my first house with my husband, we had a long stretch of a garden which was filled with star of Bethlehem, tulips, daffodils, roses and tall hollyhocks.

My second home was landscaped at the front and rear with low drystone walls, shrubs, and clumps of perennials, Canterbury bells, roses, hollyhocks, blue delphiniums, foxglove, spiraea, weeping large and a monkey puzzle tree. A haven, front and rear, around my second home with fresh mint, carrots, potatoes and cabbage in a little patch outside the back door.

My third home was detached, and I had a greenhouse! Five huge cherry blossom trees flowered every year on three sides of the house with a wide, long border filled to the brim with California poppies. The rear, a sheltered haven of lawns, with spiraea, roses and herbs at the rear of the vegetable patch.

When I moved into my current home over 25 years ago, I created a sanctuary of peace and relaxation. A pear tree, plum tree, cherry tree, rose bushes and climbing roses, clematis, honeysuckle, sweet pea, bamboo, buddleia, with sage, rosemary, mints, thymes, geraniums, lupins, spiraeas and masses upon masses of grasses, shrubs and bright flowers filling the herbaceous borders. You could say I have green fingers. All nature heals.

Every tiny space you have around your home, fill it with life. Natural energy of spiritual healing creating a balm which will keep you safe and protected as well as soothe your soul whenever you step out of it.

My plum tree provided three hundred plums one year, which I shared with friends and family. The joy of finding a pear upon your pear tree, or blackberries for the birds upon your tendrils running beneath and behind the other fabulous plants and flowers, is so rewarding. The peace and stimulation of creativity to your soul is incredible.

Divine Spirit provides us with beauty, and with our soul and inspiration we can create little pieces of heaven here on earth.
Are you thrust into working long hours in your garden to keep it all shipshape and beautiful? Are you planting in order to attract birds and wildlife into your haven?  Dragonflies and brown toads love a little pond in the quietude of my garden; the neighbours’ cats delight in strutting through and sitting on the fence in the sunshine. The butterflies attracted to the buddleia plumes are incredible and uplifting, and the bees that create their hive in the dry stones of the rear wall do so without any aggravation.  

Even if you have a small yard you can suspend foliage, use hanging baskets or cover the wall and/or fence with beautiful plants and flowers. You can stand individual pots and tubs around your outside space filling them with high, low, thick and flowing leaves and flowers, creating a brightness of colour. The seating is important too. Invest in a gorgeous hanging chair, a hammock, a patio sofa or chairs with table, creating a dining area. Even a little patch of grass upon which you can lay down a rug and sunbathe, or a gazebo or tree under which you could relax and read, can both make alternative seating areas. 

Where are you allowing yourself to be submerged in nature and beauty outside of your home? Do you grow your own vegetables? Do your children love to discover new growth,  catch butterflies and run their fingers across the pansies to sense the velvety surface and see faces in each flower? Are you creating magic all around you, encouraging a healing balm to circumference your living space?

If you live in an apartment or flat you can grow something in a hanging basket or tub, placing little plants in pots around your office space, bedroom and lounge. Are you letting natural healing vibes flow around the inside of your home? Where can you begin to introduce a little more movement of colour in your garden? How can you brighten up the dark, damp corners? Can you stretch canes to encourage growth? Can you support plants, shrubs and trees to stretch high enabling them to catch nutrients as well as creating protection of shade for you?

The spirit of life within natural living plants, flowers and trees are your soul’s medicine. Keep yourself alert and active, and aspire to be as nurtured as possible. 

Give yourself this time to see what you can achieve. Sow the seeds of your dreams too and as you do, watch each tiny leaf appear, growth of stem and flourishing blooms, as you too stretch and grow in all areas of your life. Try it. Let me know how applying yourself into connectedness with natural living spiritual energy helps change your mood and sends waves of inspiration through you whilst enhancing your emotional wellbeing too! Gardening is a natural resource for your total wellness.

Create your magical little piece of heaven on your very own doorstep!

Share your thoughts, ideas and photographs of your special, natural pieces of heaven with me[email protected]


Susan Smalley is a life discovery coach and mentor. Her passion from a very young age has been for all things spiritual, from healing and crystals to meditation to one to one coaching, reiki, tuition, and mediumship. 

Susan is passionate about intuitive guidance, whether that be in relationships, work, business, family dynamics, health, heightening life demands, lack of focus or a drop in self-esteem, supporting you in transforming any of your restrictions to raise your self-confidence and align you again with the true purpose of your soul. Feel free to connect with Susan over in The Community or on her Spiritual Sofa on Facebook. You can also visit her website 

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry; your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason. Ever.