Good Garden Air: A Visit to Willow Oak Herb Farm

Rather than try to put together all the metrics needed to determine a “National Happiness Quotient” to replace Gross Domestic Product, why not just have a GPC—Gardens Per Capita?

Gardens are just the sort of things humans need for happiness, though you can really only know this by spending time in one and knowing how you feel before, during and after.

When Maria Price-Nowakowski, who, with her family, owns and manages Willow Oak Herb Farm in Severn, Md., visited Victoria, British Columbia, a couple years ago, she was struck by the number of gardens and sheer presence of flowers and how much calmer and happier the people who lived there were. That experience and frequent visitors to Willow Oak confirm the need for green spaces that offer a diversity of plants in a variety of settings. It’s easy enough to drive by Willow Oak and literally have a passing curiosity about what’s there, but if you’ve never been, it’s important to go. Your sanity will thank you and your own personal happiness index will spike.

Willow Oak offers several types of theme gardens, including medicinal, culinary, cutting, scent, and raised-bed vegetable that gives visitors a sense of what they might do in their own yards.

Maria enjoys talking about some of the plants in each one, pointing out different species of roses—all heavenly scented, even if subtle—along with the vitex, the valerian, and the shrubby neem plant whose home is in the medicinal garden.

“The gardens are for teaching and people to heal from,” she says. “I don’t think people realize how good plants are.”

For the full article about Willow Oak Herb Farm, click here.

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