N2. The Leonie Cornelius & L'OCCITANE Wellness Garden

Leonie Cornelius is an award winning garden designer, based in Sligo (Ireland), writer and founder of design company waė. Leonie’s work focuses on creating a strong connection between wild nature and each other through lasting and wildly beautiful designs and collaborations to make life more joyful every day.

Leonie Cornelius & L’OCCITANE have partnered up this Spring to bring you a series of gardening tips inspired by Provence and Leonie’s favourite L’OCCITANE products. Enjoy! 



All photos by: Colin Gillen

Inspiration

How are you? Right now more than ever we need to take some time to look after ourselves and each other and refill our emotional tanks by connecting with nature. 

Gardens are a wonderful way of regaining emotional strength and feeling hopeful for the future and the idea of creating a wellness garden in our own space is something I’ve been asked about more and more as a designer. 

Lavender - The French 'Blue Gold'

There are few plants for the garden that are as instantly recognisable as lavender. There are so many great things about these evergreen shrubs from its delicious scent and hence its benefits in the aroma and beauty trade to its uses in the culinary world, as well as its medicinal properties. First of all it is a beautiful and stylish plant that comes in many varieties meaning that there is really a Lavender for almost every garden style and design. It also flowers for absolutely ages! 
 
There are more reasons to grow this plant than just its pretty appearance however. Lavender, who’s name comes from from lavanda - meaning to wash, is a fascinating plant with a long history of medicinal uses. Within your own home you can use lavender to aid sleep and it is a great plant for Lavender Perfumed Sachet's which can be used to deter moths in drawers. 

Leonie's Lavender Top Picks

LAVENDER FOAMING BATH

"I think if I absolutely had to choose, this is my all time favourite L’Occitane product. It’s incredibly true and simple in fragrance and has become a staple in my bath ritual. Close your eyes and you could be on the fragrant hills of Haute-Provence."

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LAVENDER HAND CREAM

"I use a lot of this! I often dig in the soil without gloves as touching soil and inhaling the scent is said to be very beneficial to our bodies. This also means my hands end up feeling a bit rough at times and this hand cream is my favourite. So rich and nourishing and perfect for gardeners."

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PDO LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL

"I add a little lavender oil onto my hands and inhale it every night before I go to sleep and this is my favourite. It is sourced from the Lavandula Angustifolia plant and carries the P.D.O. (Protected Designation of Origin) label - a guarantee of quality and traceability."

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Discover Our Lavender Collection

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Create your own L’Occitane inspired Wellness Garden

Can you smell the lavender yet? Ok, let’s get ready to plan your very own L’Occitane wellness garden. The idea is to create that special place that draws you out and brings you daily joy. Here’s some ideas for creating a Provençal style wellness garden right here.

TIP 1: Find your favourite spot

Starting your journey to a wellness garden is not only easy, it’s a joy. It starts with you exploring and finding the perfect space for your wellness escape. The key here is make it a place where you want to be. Find a spot in your garden where there is direct sun and one which is sheltered from strong winds. A little magical corner just for you where you can go to get way from it all, watch your flowers grow and make some space for your own wellness.

Maybe plan to have a space where you can sit and relax and drink it all in. A comfortable bench, a hammock, a hanging pod chair or if you have space a simple gazebo can all be elements which draw you to your space. Find something which makes you want to go to your L’Occitane inspired wellness space and find a way to make it a reality. Even for super small spaces, think balconies or small patios, there’s a chair or a bench you can add which makes you want to sit out to enjoy your new plants.

TIP 2: Create your lavender focus

So many plants work well for a wellness garden but a an anchor there’s nothing like the lavender. When considering these shrubs from a design angle they work wonderfully interplanted within a border but they also look fantastic lining edges of pathways or patios where their delicious scent can be enjoyed as one passes them. It also looks great as an accent plant and is  wonderful choice for containers and window boxes for patios and the smaller garden.

One of my favourites to grow is the Lavandula Angustifolia which is the also known as ‘fine lavender’ and is the one which goes into the amazing L’Occitane Lavender products. The scent is amazingly strong and just brushing your hands across it releases that scent of summer. Two more options are Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’ and Lavandula stoechas which is also known as French Lavender or butterfly lavender.

TIP 3: Now add some more medicinals


Now that you’ve create a truly Provençal feel with the Lavender why not add some more wellness inspired plants? Great starting points are the amazing herbs such as oregano, thyme, sage, peppermint, lemon balm and rosemary (see image) which all have potent medicinal properties and are wonderful additions to the wellness garden. Adding incredible foliage scent and many beautiful flowers, a bonus is that many also become staples in your kitchen and can go into food, teas and even find a place in your bathing rituals.


I also love the Artemisia Vulgaris -mugwort plant which helps with both the physical and emotional symptoms of menstrual problems and can be very balancing. Within the ornamental medicinal garden it’s a super structural plant for the back of the border as it tall and has striking textured foliage with narrow ball shaped flowers in a silvery green (see image). 

TIP 4: Add some blooms


Now you can add some more flowering plants to bring your scheme to life. The late summer and early Autumn blooming Echinacea purpurea flower is one well known to many for its medicinal properties and is a stunning flower for the garden. The two year old flowers can be harvested for an immune system boosting tea (see image). 


Interestingly, many plants found in our ornamental gardens which have stunning blooms also contain calming compounds which help anxiety and nerves. While St.Johns wort and Valerian are pretty and easy to grow options, none are quite as striking as the gorgeous passionflower, a climber which can be found in many protected and warm urban gardens (see image). 


Last but not least, the stunning perennial Solidago virgaurea- goldenrod (see image). is a super plant for pollinators and blooms late in the seasons, bringing great colour to the garden. It is often used in wild naturalistic schemes and has the added benefit of having strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties as a medicinal plant. It also brings some L’Occitane yellow to the scheme which is the perfect contrast to the blue of the lavender.

TIP 5: Don’t forget to nourish your body

So now we’ve looked medicinal plants for the wellness garden but looking after ourselves from a food nourishment is also important. Why not add some blueberries for a gorgeous treat in late Summer and a stunning foliage visual in Autumn. How gorgeous too is the dark berry teamed with the light purple grey Lavender?

Growing little alpine strawberries alongside the lavender is another wonderful pop of colour and is such a treat when you’re sitting out in Summer.

If you have the space I would recommend adding a flowering tree which has berries. My favourite is the hawthorn which has medicinal properties, is loved by wildlife and goes with your wellness scheme perfectly- the white flowers teamed with lilac lavender- dreamy! And the bonus?  You can make healthy edible hawthorn leather from the berries!


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