20 years ago, I built a shingled cottage on a century-old hayfield in Metchosin, at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. We called the farm Ninebark after the physocarpus that still line the creek. My mother planted in the French style; I put in English Country shrubs and perennials for flower sales; my daughter pulled horsetails. Camping trips were funded by sweet pea and dahlia sales. Sheep restored the field, and coops went up. But too soon, I worked full time an hour away in the city and wrote books on weekends. Even 2 acres needs a firm hand, or many, and mine were elsewhere.
I still breed heritage chickens and Dorset sheep. Monoculture will deplete soil and spirit, so I work to sustain pasture while every other corner gets cut flowers with no chemical contamination. (There’s that creek lined with ninebark, remember.) Diversity is a mixed blessing. Cougars, hawks, bindweed, aphids, rabbits, sparrows in the coops. The farm humbles.
This farm has taught me everything, and I owe it everything. Two years ago, flowers answered the question, “How does a woman like me, at my age, honor and protect land like this?”
This year, plant-dyed silk ribbon added to the softness of what happens here. All of the ribbon you see here has been dyed with plants from the farm--such as horsetail, Indian plum, copper beech, walnut--or nearby roadways, where the sheep sorrel and acorns are plentiful.