She Dazzled Me With Science . . .

Lady Bug on Sage Leaf in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Lady Bug on Sage Leaf in Greenhouse (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

. . . and her many ecological practices and love of all things natural.  Victoria Taft embodies the growing national movement to raise awareness about healthy choices and sustainability.  In other words, she not only “talks the talk” she “walks the walk”.  For as long as I’ve known her, she has been a passionate advocate for respecting mother earth, while trying to minimize our negative impact upon her.  And her mission doesn’t stop with growing plants, herbs and vegetables; she also heats with locally harvested wood and carpets her home with recyclable materials.

Victoria Taft's Greenhouse in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Victoria Taft’s Greenhouse packed to the rafters with healthy inventory (Photo: Kathy Diemer)

I went to visit Victoria, owner of Victoria Taft’s Garden in Sherman, CT (www.victoriataftsgarden.com), over the weekend and walking through her two balmy greenhouses was like walking in paradise.  Plants everywhere were cavorting and displaying their blossoms, all vying for my attention. You could tell that her plants, herbs and vegetables weren’t just dropped off and watered; there was much more to it than that.  Victoria is a grower, not just a plant retailer, and therein lies the difference. Some garden centers have plants brought in and they are maintained until sold.  Not so with Victoria; she grows her plants from infancy, using seed, cuttings or plugs.  The entire time a plant is under her care, it will be pampered, coddled and tended to so that it will grow to be an incredibly healthy, happy plant.  She thinks in terms of how she would like to be treated, saying “I want my plants to feel good.” Does this sound a little more like someone raising a child?  Indeed, that is how she looks upon her little green ones, as if they were her children.  Yes, plants are living, breathing organisms that require care and will thrive under the tutelage of a loving, responsible parent.  Victoria maintains this connection with her plants from birth, and considers careful monitoring and attention to be part of her investment into the overall wellbeing of her vegetative clan.

Rows & Rows of Colorful Sun Patiens in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Rows & Rows of Colorful SunPatiens (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

This is an incredibly knowledgeable gal who knows her herbs inside out (a few sprigs of lovage could be added to any stew), understands what makes the best salsa tomato, and is an absolute whiz when it comes to the science of growing and using organic products whenever possible.  She admits to using limited commercial fertilizers on a few plants (such as petunias) because she hasn’t quite found the right organic formulation yet.  I say yet, because Victoria continues to experiment and is quite determined to transition to 100% organic in the near future, promising to share her discoveries so that others can follow in her footsteps.  As for the rest of the gang, she makes her own compost tea cocktail (ingredients vary depending upon her plants needs, but one of them is sea kelp) and no plant is grown without the aid of beneficial organisms called mycorrhizae.  When she started to discuss the science of mycorrhizae, my eyeballs started to cross at the very technical aspects and benefits.  In a nutshell, mycorrhizae can be introduced to the soil in liquid or powder form.  For existing plants it can be mixed with water and applied during watering, with container or in-ground plants you amend the soil with it before planting.  Mycorrhizae are fungi that attach to the root system and extend the root hairs.  “It’s like a supportive community effort,” Victoria said, adding ” Mycorrhizae works with the plant to help it thrive through difficult situations, such as drought and stress.”

Petunia & Centaurea in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Petunia & Centaurea Make a Lovely Pair (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Alas, life wasn’t always green for Victoria.  Although she spent many years working in her mother’s flower shop, even earning a degree in ornamental horticulture, she was concerned about making a living in the horticulture industry.  In her search for a new career, she was interviewed and hired at a financial planning firm, but never worked a day.  After going through the hiring process, she realized that the banking industry wasn’t for her. “I couldn’t do it.  I felt like the job would steal my soul.” Instead, Victoria ran back to the welcoming arms of the horticultural world and chose to study herbal medicine, something she felt would enrich her life and ultimately benefit the world.  Soon after, she met a handsome, energetic healer/massage therapist who later became her husband.

Victoria Taft Tending to a Petunia in A Garden For All By Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Victoria Taft Tending to a Petunia (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

And so the fairytale continues with a beautiful, blue eyed matriarch that tends to her plants (and rescues unwanted, unloved specimens whenever possible), her beloved husband, Rodney, and incredibly witty son, Joseph, all working together as advocates for living consciously.  Ultimately, they are rich beyond their wildest dreams; not with silver and gold, or yachts and fancy cars, but with the wonderful life and healthy environment they’ve created for themselves in their own peaceable kingdom.

To all of the nurturing, responsible caretakers of our precious Mother Earth:  I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.  Always remember that what you do makes a difference~

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Comments

  1. What a Lovely story for Mom’s Day!!!! Hope to see you @ Mom’s for Mother’s Day! Love. Patty

  2. Oh, how I love this woman whom I’ve never met, except through you Kathy ~ her awareness that a job in the banking industry would steal her soul ~ she clearly has found her path. Happy Mother’s Day! Beautifully written.

    • I was actually at Victoria’s greenhouse today teaching a container design class, and potting up plants for customers. A lovely way to spend a rainy day. And, yes, she is following the road less traveled, not to riches but to self fulfillment. Thank you Dina, my friend and follower, for sharing your comments. Have a wonderful mother’s day! XO~

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