Start unknown. Finish unforgettable.

After 3 months on the road, 11 countries, 1000’s wonderful people and learning a million new things my Global Garden journey has come to an end.

Or maybe that’s just another word for a new beginning.When I started this journey, people asked me what my expectations were for the trip. My reply, was that honestly, I only had one. And that was to grow. A lot.

It’s the things I found unimaginable, that have now become unforgettable.

Sydney/Australia – Beeing the solution

In Sydney, I met with the incredible Alyson from Bee Ecology and together we made a bee hotel – a safe zone to welcome native bees into any backyard, balcony or farm. As we worked Alyson taught me about the importance of pollinators.

If pollinators disappear, we will all get stung.

Pollination is vital to plants, to pollinators, to humans. Without it plants can’t reproduce. If we don’t give bees a safe home in a biodiverse environment, they can’t give one back to us.

The lessons Alyson taught me was something I was able to share around the world, teaching influences in Brazil and the Czech Republic and you guys on this blog about how to build their own and create a biodiverse garden that they will love.

I loved that by even doing something so small, we can all have a big impact.

Havelock North/New Zealand – Sisters reunited

I said the moment I was announced that I was the winner that I would love to pack all the other 15 finalists in my bag and bring them with me. Turns out I could, which I discovered in New Zealand when I was met by my Global Garden sister Simone Anderson.

Catching up with New Zealand’s Global Garden finalist Simone Anderson

Along the journey I was reunited with nearly all of my Global Garden sisters and one of my all-time favourite things of this experience was being about to share this journey with them. Together we discovered the Weleda world – the plants, the processes and enjoyed the pampering of the products themselves.

My Global Garden sisters Tatiana, Mia and Nici smelling the essential oils

I was a winner too, because being welcomed into new countries and places by locals who love it – my sisters and Weleda employees alike is an experience that turned me from a tourist to a traveler.

Córdoba/Argentina – The people behind the plants

My favourite place in any country is in nature itself, so going to where things grow is always an unforgettable experience for me.

Walking the Villa Berna medicinal gardens with Jorge

Being invited to visit Jorge Gusto, and so many of the Weleda gardeners was unforgettable. You could feel the positive energy of Jorge’s 3.5 hectares of biodynamic gardens, 1280 meters above sea level in the quartz filled mountains of Córdoba. 70 types of medical plants grow there, not in perfect little rows like you would expect from a commercial ‘garden’ but where nature planned them to be.

Fond farewells with Villa Berna manager Jorge

Sao Paulo/Brazil – Ethics in action

Visiting the favela of Monte Azule is an experience that will stay with me forever. Seeing the power of community working together to build a community from nothing into a thriving place of opportunity was truly inspiring.

A new mother and baby at Casa Angela in San Paulo Brazil.

I’m not just talking about bricks and mortar… they did that too. But the more important thing that they have built is a community with opportunity – natural birthing clinics, woodwork centers, medical centers, libraries, recycling plants, gardens and nature reserves, kindergartens, schools, workshops and even a discount clothing store make sure that all its inhabitants can overcome the odds.

My take out was that when we unite, we can achieve anything.

Maastricht/Holland – Bending the circle of life back into shape

Seeing new born nature at work with Natuurmonumenten – Holland’s largest nature conservation organization is now imprinted in my mind’s eye.

Looking at before. Imagining the after.

I was lucky enough to join Hanne and José, two of 400 Natuurmonumenten forresters to visit the nature reserves in Pietersberg, Maastricht. Here, Weleda and Natuurmonumenten, are working together to restore nature in a soon to be defunct limestone quarry. Together we stood overlooking the perfect ‘before and after scenario’ of new born nature at work.

From quarry to nature reserve

Seeing where we have been to where we can go so clearly in front of my eyes was a moment that I will never forget. The resilience of nature and its natural optimism was exhilarating to watch.

I couldn’t help but make my own quiet promise to do what I can to help nature restore itself and make this circle of life be a little less wonky.

Stockholm/Sweden – Lagom is a Swedish word for ‘just the right amount’

Sweden was a very stabilizing time for me on this journey. When I was with the Weleda Sweden team, hiking through the forest to BBQ by a pristine lake that we had to ourselves I really felt connected to the Swedish art of living a healthy balanced life.

Hiking in Tyresta National Park

I was halfway through my trip and I remember feeling like I was the Goldilocks of Global Garden – I finally feel like I’ve found my ‘just right’ – my balance. Sweden has been teaching me a lot this week about the importance of equality. And equilibrium.

Goetheanum /Switzerland – The world epi-center of Anthroposophy

I had been learning so much on the journey about the body and the mind, plants and the processes but my time at the Goetheanum really gave the spirit a good workout.

The first Goetheanum was burnt down on the evening of January 1, 1923. This building was intended to be intended to be built in Munich, Germany but was met with considerable resistance.

The Goetheanum was created by Rudolph Steiner between 1913 and 1920 in Dornach, Switzerland – the birthplace to Anthroposophy. It was created as an active meeting place and performance center for spiritually committed people.

Meeting with Paul McKay, President of the Weleda Board of Directors and member of the executive board of the Anthroposophical Society for the last 22 years made me really think about the power of awakening our potential.

I really started to question…

  • What is our relationship with ourselves?
  • Who am I?
  • What is my relationship to the world?
  • Why am I here?
  • Is there more connection between heaven and earth?
  • What is my purpose?
  • And do I have the courage to live it and step into that adventure?

The spiritual self-growth I have had on the journey blows my mind. I feel like I have grown more in three months than in the previous 36 years. What I have loved learning is that when we start to open up, the world starts to open up. It’s the law of attraction. And that’s an adventure.

Paris/France – Beauty in the most beautiful city in the world.

I don’t think there is a better city in the world for indulgence than Paris. My Global Garden sisters – Lea (finalist from France) and Bea (finalist from Spain) joined me for a spa session at ‘Espace’ – Weleda’s first show room in Europe.

We were treated to 90-mintues of pure bliss. Whilst I wish I could indulge like this everyday reality has different ideas. But what I have learnt about skincare is that I need to make more time for my regime – not hours though! Just a few minutes morning and night to massage my face with the products it needs. I tend to slap things on an off I go but I’m not doing the products or my skin justice. This is a change I have already made and I’ve really notice the difference.

Debriefing after our treatments

Ilkestone/UK – We should all be entitled to clean beauty.

I will never forget my time with Weleda UK Managing Director Jayn Sterland, number 1 of the ‘The Who’s Who of Natural Beauty’ who shared her mission for ‘Honest beauty’ with me.

I couldn’t agree more with Jayn’s definitition of beauty – that it comes from within, and comes from being really, really authentic. From knowing who you are and for loving that person for who they really are. Then beauty radiates out, but it always comes from the center.

We sat in the show garden of Weleda whilst talking about Jayn’s mission for cleaning up the beauty industry, giving consumers the tools they need to question what they are putting on their skin, eliminating green washing and getting the industry to be socially responsible for what they put on the shelf.

As my knowledge grew on this journey, I can’t believe what products are allowed on the shelves… my buying habits have changed dramatically. I now know, it’s not about having lots of products, it’s about investing in the best and consciously choosing what we believe is ethically and physically best for us… just because it’s on the shelf doesn’t mean it’s safe. We have to do our homework for ourselves.

Prague/Czech Republic – All good things should be left to grow wild and free.

An unforgettable life lesson for me came from wild cultivating birch forests in South Bohemia.

Wild collecting natural Birch in South Bohemia, Czech Republic

I learnt that all good things should be left to grow wild and free. That we need to live in harmony with nature. To always put back more than we take so that what we enjoy now, can be enjoyed tomorrow. Life on this planet is a partnership… we need to work in harmony with nature not against it because we need it a hell of a lot more than it needs us.

Milan/Italy – Feeding the mind, body and spirit in Italy.

Healthy living starts on the inside. And I don’t think there is a better place on the planet than Italy to teach us how to feed our mind, body and soul.

Italian art, music, design, fashion and food are part of day to day life here and the very culture itself revolves around beauty, love, passion and sensuality — all the good things that feed our body, mind and the soul.

Italians don’t just value quality ingredients, they value quality of life.

Overlooking the Weleda Sea Buckthorn gardens of San Mario

I’ve learnt we all have to really think about what are those quality ingredients that we truly value, that we need for the recipe of our lives.

The biggest lesson I have learnt…

The one thing that will stay with me long after this journey has ended is that we can make our own reality. And it can be our fantasy.

“This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and do it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your own life happy.’ Susan Polis Schutz.

I have been living my fantasy for the last three months but it doesn’t stop here.

I thought I would be nervous at this stage… with ‘reality’ about to hit after a ‘trip of a lifetime’. But right now, as I’m writing my final blog my head is in the clouds bursting with new ideas, flowing as easily as the Tuscan wine. It’s time for slowing down, basking in the Italian sun, drinking wine and working out what direction to put my feet to next.

So cheers, thanks so much for joining me on this quest for discovery.

I hope you have learnt just as much as I have. I hope you come on the next journey with me.
Follow along at @micro_adventurist

1 Comment

  1. Marthe says

    Great article, Lauren. Cheers to you too!
    Question: that first picture, is that the ‘Viale dei Cipressi’ in Bolgheri (Italy), by any chance…?

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