Tea Garden

Tea Garden



After losing access to Daniel's, in early 2020, I turned my time towards gardening. I have had an allotment garden in High Park for over a decade and usually start seeds under grow lights around this time of year anyways.  Our condo development had undergone a roof renovation the year prior and I'd not thought of setting my garden back up but it just made good sense to do so with covid changing access dates at the allotment. I picked up bags of soil and felt pots and began starting seeds. This first year of gardening again on the roof, I planted herbs - many of which I grew for tea (mint, lemon balm, thyme, chamomile, lavender, etc). I just wasn't ready to commit to a full-on roof garden while promise of getting back into the allotment was still dangling over our heads. Fewer gardeners showed up once things opened up again. I was glad to have plants at home because we lost car access to the allotment garden road and it was more difficult to carry tools and our harvest up and down the hill. Dogs, too, became problematic. I had a friend helping me and she was bitten by an off-leash dog in the on-leash area. I'd almost been knocked over a few times as dogs leapt over the fence at the roadway.

Other than this, it was a fairly good Summer as everyone waited for vaccines to become available. We all wore cloth masks when we did our shopping and I continued supporting local shops and more and more relied upon Fresh City deliveries.

It had been a goal of mine to get back to Paris and Florence but that, too, was put on hold indefinitely. I'd continued following Journeywoman posts on FaceBook and Instagram (seriously, what would we have done without social media and access to information online). I discovered that Evelyn Hannon, Journeywoman's founder had died. Her daughters approached Carolyn Ray and asked her if she would carry on her legacy.  I was invited to join the Advisory Board along with a number of other women who had been active on the site. There's been no looking back on the decision to join after meeting the women who came together to hold space while things went through so many changes as travel became less and less viable. I'll talk more about this in other posts. For now, here's a bit of a taste of who we are and some of what we've gotten up to ... lots of talking about where we'd been and sharing stories with one another.

Things went relatively well until it was time to close down the garden at the end of October 2020.

Here's a shot of some of the garlic harvested in September 2020

... and a peak at some of what was growing up on the roof deck



... and a look at the allotment just before replanting the garlic patches at this time.

It became too cold to continue to sit on the roof sipping tea and it was becoming more and more evident that we were in for another lockdown over the holidays. I'd been watching a lot of YouTube jewelry-making videos around this time and had come across a group of YouTubers about to celebrate vlogmas, many of whom began to feature advent calendars. I did a search on amazon.ca and ordered an intriguing assortment of 24 different teas in tins from Vahdam. I decided to get fancy and also ordered numbered stickers to place on the vellum sheet tucked inside so I could play at trying a new tea each day up until Christmas Day. It was a fun way of keeping track.

Vahdam Advent Tea Calendar

That said, that there were so many, threw me. I don't think I'd ever seen so many different types of tea in one place before. I googled 'how to brew tea'.

The first video I came across was one by Global Tea Hut and it referred to protocols of left and right sides of tea serving ...  fascinating - right!

Then I clicked on one of Mei Leaf's. Here's the video that hooked me. He was so enthusiastic and talked about getting tea drunk.

I threw caution to the wind and ordered Resin Temptress as a gift to myself ... then sat back at home sipping tea at the end of each day, winding down priot to making dinner ... watching tea videos ... waiting for my first tea cake to arrive.

instagram tea grid

I pulled out some teaware I'd inherited when Mom died. Dad had bought her a set from Japan that we'd grown up using on special occasions. I got it ready to use every day and added to my collection. Tea pets. Strainers. Gaiwans. Cannisters. Tiny Tea Pots. Tea Seeds.

During the Winter of 2021, I drank tea, sketched jewelry ideas and posted regularly to a new instagram account.

tea and jewelry

Soon it was Spring 2021 and seedlings were well underway and my roof deck was reloaded with more new pots and additional soil was delivered along with plants I purchased from local nurseries. I still grew some and shared them with my followers. And I continued to learn more and more about jewelry-making.

tea and gardening

It was a lot of work. It kept me busy and happy. Boxes of plantlets arrived on my doorstep in mid-May and I began the process of carrying them out and back in at night ... acclimatizing them and by mid-June all were planted in pots on the roofdeck. Car access had been cut back at the allotment and so more and more plants found homes on the roofdeck. By July 2021, plants were in place and I finally found time to inventory the jewelry-making materials that had been lined up along the staircase. I reintegrated the tools from BeadFX and home with those from Daniels.

tea and jewelry sketchbook ideas

In August, I set aside time to pour through my designs and began to make the first pieces of my collection. I'd been taking classes and learning how to set up a small business. I'd been blogging for quite awhile and tweeting using the avatar @gardenbre and now with jewelry-making pushing its way, more and more into my life, I was having a bit of an identity crises.

gardening and jewelry and tea


By September 2021, I set to completing my first pieces and knew it was time to figure out even more about the business side of things.

I was moving on.
You know how they say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Well - that happened!
Fall 2021

About mid-October, I saw an ad on Instagram for digitalmainstreet.com and filled in a form and shortly thereafter, began working with Melissa on this shopify store.

November and December was set aside for branding, photographing the work and getting product pics and descriptions loaded and sorted. I often look back on the day I fell in love with making jewelry and have to laugh at the decision I made to create a little store where I could flog my wares and continue to make more and more pieces.

That is all ... for now. Here it is, Spring again. 2022 and I've been growing dwarf tomatoes under lights since last October and just began planting seeds again. It's not quite warm enough yet to plant seeds outdoors on the roof yet. I've read it's supposed to be a soggy Summer. At first that threw me but then I began problem-solving to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I'll talk about that in another post.






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