Groundhog's Day Brings Hope of Warm Weather
By Barbara Gulley
Tea gardens wish for early spring
February is the month of love, home to the most romantic holiday of the year, Valentine's Day. However, it's also a month of hope, with Ground Hog's Day providing many of us- especially those who live in the northern climates- a time to think forward and anticipate all the color and beauty of early spring blossoms, shortly followed by summer gardens.
An Internet search of "tea gardens" spans the spectrum from Japanese ceremonial sites, to plantations, to parks the English designed as places to enjoy a leisurely stroll and a cup of tea. With a little imagination from my guests and some creative interpretation, I've put together a tea garden that has combined a little bit of all three in a remote plot of land in northern Michigan.
Like many residents in the mitten state, we have a house "up north". Ours is a cedar-sided cabin on a pine tree filled twenty acres in the northwest section of the Lower Peninsula. Scenic, yes, but probably not the first place you think of for a tea garden. However, we found a perfect spot in a natural clearing on the land where a circle of tall oaks and pines makes an already private area even more secluded. Here we've assembled a number of large planters filled with chamomile, lavender, mint and, remarkably, camellia sinensis. (Of course, the reason they are all in containers is so they can be moved back indoors after Labor Day). This was the beginning of our tea garden, but we continue to add new elements each year.
In addition to our herb and tea plants, my husband built a small platform deck where a weathered wrought iron table with and two chairs rest. Across from the deck are a pair of sawed-off log pedestals: one holds a bronze sun-dial, the other a teapot fountain we snapped up at a local flea market.
In the long, sunny summer days of Michigan that stretch through the evening, I sneak back to my tea garden with a carafe filled with my favorite hot beverage and a tea cup. I exercise my own tea time ritual, reserving my seat on the deck, book in hand and walk through the garden, checking the status of my current crop. What a better companion than one of Adagio's Story Time teas? Tea and a good book is a timeless duo!
Purposely lo-tech, the sundial is my only guide to time. This northern retreat is one for cultivating, meditating and strolling- a tea garden that doesn't perhaps fit one particular definition, but rather includes a little bit of every type that can be reasonably transplanted into a non-tropical climate.
In February, the only way I can reach my tea garden is by snow shoes or cross country skis. But, with a cup of tea from any one of Adagio's Love Petals collection, I can think floral thoughts as I drink in the sweet flavors of rose petals and lavender, sitting by the fire and anxiously await to hear if it's six more weeks of winter or an early start on my tea garden.