I worked on the foliage base for the dressing last night, using Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort). I used this partly because the shrub it came from needed pruning and partly because St John’s Wort offers gentle support for anxiety and depression.
When I came back early this morning, parts of it were starting to droop. My initial reaction was to replace these, effectively starting again. As I thought about it, I realised that today in particular it was more important to leave them just as they were. For me, they represent our collective fatigue right now – and that even when we feel tired, imperfect, less than we ‘ought’ to be, we remain valuable as part of a connecting and inspirational whole.
Instead I put in some additional foliage and then the flowers. I chose these with the aim of sharing as much of the feeling of spring and its sense of renewal within the garden as possible. There is a choice when you do this as to whether to pick for longevity or simply to capture the moment. For me, flowers from the garden are always for the latter. It celebrates their wilder, ephemeral nature. Also, even more importantly, it connects us to that age-old spiritual acceptance that all is impermanent. Whether we experience things as good or bad, we know they will all pass. The well dressing may only last for 24 hours but we will value it for what it brings, this wheel of the year that we share will turn and we will begin again.
Dressing the well for our companions and visitors is a privilege and a joy. At an uncertain time, it has helped ground and comfort me. Thank you for always reminding me that all that matters is that we take care of one another.
Penny is a member of the Chalice Well gardening team and creator and host of the Floral Bar at our Healing Weekend in August.