I am allergic to the chemicals Parabens and Phthalates that are used in soaps, deodorants, washing powders, make up and shampoo, I can only use natural products. I do not wear make up, never use deodorants and do not shave under my arms or colour my hair.
When I was a child I lived in Chartrist Road, Ely. Cardiff, my next door neighbour was Rosie Bratcher and in her garden were beautiful red roses that looked and felt like velvet to me, the scent was wonderful. The roses climbed over the brick wall that divided our gardens.
At the time my great-grandmother Beatrice Cheeseman had died, she lived in Queens Road, Penarth. She was known as Beattie, she was eccentric and would collect anything. Her house was three stories high, nearly every room was cluttered with what she picked up bought or had taken. I was given old glass bottles that were Beattie’s by my Nan who was Beattie’s daughter.
With Rosie’s permission I was allowed to pick the roses and I would carefully take the petals apart and place them inside the glass bottles, adding water ( Corporation pop it was called back then) then tip the bottle upside down, left to stand for a while. Later I would unscrew the top of the bottle releasing the perfume, the smell filled my senses. The glass bottles mesmerised me and so did the scent from roses.
Today I grow my own roses and they are scented and I look after them as if they were my children. However, Lavender is my favourite and I have a lavender border in my front garden and out the back garden cum yard, called a yarden I have lavender in pots. I prefer English lavender to French lavender, reason being the scent lasts a lot longer and so does the lavender flower, English lavender is very sturdy and needs to be in our four seasons in one day weather.
I have been harvesting lavender for many years and I infuse lavender into tea, use it in the bath, make lavender bags and pot puree. I find working with lavender wonderfully therapeutic. This morning I gathered the dried lavender and rose petals. First I hand-pick the flower, then for the remaining I use a wooden rolling-pin and roll over the whole lavender, the flower is crushed away from the stork. The roses I only pick if they are weather-beaten, either by the hot sun and now the heavy showers. I find this chore a labour of love and so relaxing. I feel I am reaching out to an ancient past, and where my ancestors along with others, used lavender, roses, others flowers and herbs to spread on the floors of their dwelling. I feel the same when I smell wood smoke I am taken back to a past where maybe life was more sensual and simple.
PS I always leave enough lavender and roses for the bees, moths and butterflies.