For a long time on my website, I included the origin story of Sweet Gale Gardens. It went something like this:
For 5 generations my mother’s family had a home by the sea. It was named Bayberry Knoll and it was built by my Great Aunt Tuyu. This was the first place I learned to love and respect nature.
We had to sell this home and it broke our hearts. Searching for meaning, I wanted to know more about the bayberry plant, or Myrica pensylvanica. It is a small, native shrub that can be found on the east coast where we had our home. Bayberry also has a cousin, Myrica gale, or Sweet Gale. It can be found in the places my family originated from, the UK and Ireland, including my father's side: the Gales. It is also native to my new home, Ontario.
It is sweet symmetry: that my Aunt Tuyu would name her beloved home Bayberry Knoll and generations later my mother would marry a sweet Gale.
I named my little flower farm business after Sweet Gale to honour the place myself and my family called home and the deep love of a place and its surrounding ecology that was rooted in my heart. And to remember the family that had gone before me and who also loved a life of having their hands in the soil.
But when I wrote this story, I already knew my own origin story was changing. I had gone in a different direction with my career, choosing the precarious path of farming and a life outdoors. I had immigrated to another country and was learning to call it home. I met new people who filled me with new perspectives. The little flower farm grew and other people, beyond myself, saw themselves in it. It felt like a tremendous honour and responsibility that others would read my words, see my flowers, visit the farm and want to be a part of it.
So it changes. Yes, I am Jessica Gale of the Sweet Gale. But this story, this flowery landscape isn’t just about me anymore. I couldn’t be more pleased or excited.
In the next post, I want to introduce you to some of the dear souls that make this whole thing work. Later in the summer, I hope to feature some of their words, images, and perspectives.
What it is becoming, the future ethos of Sweet Gale Gardens is still unfurling. But like a good farmer, I can be patient, I know it will yield something beautiful.
Signing off now, Jessica