September 29, 2016


My appreciation for Gardenias grew when I planted one in the front yard. I live in Phoenix, Arizona, so the ability of a Gardenia plant to survive in the desert years was pretty miraculous. It grew in the shade and the flowers bloomed into massive explosions of aromatic blossoms.

As a subtropical plant belonging to the coffee family, Gardenias are not the easiest flowers to grow, making their blooms very costly if you purchase them (a small box or bouquet of organic Gardenias is almost $200!). At over $20 per bloom, growing Gardenia plants in your garden is the most cost-effective way to go.

Gardenias typically like environments with high humidity and their dark, rich green leaves like well-drained soil. The flowers are either pure white or pale yellow, growing in singular blossoms or in clusters of flowers + blooming in spring and summer. There are over 100 different Gardenia species, with the most popular cultivated Gardenia native to China, known as Cape Jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides). A large white flower about the size of a garden rose, it is most commonly found growing in the wild (can you imagine?!) in Vietnam, China, Taiwan, India, Japan, Burma. The fruit of this Gardenia species is used for natural yellow dyes, and also in traditional Chinese Medicine to cool the body down during a fever.

Another type of Gardenia that many people love is the one that looks more like a small pinwheel, known as the Tahitian Gardenia (Gardenia Taitensis). Native to Polynesia, these flowers are made into necklaces called a Hei in Tahiti and a Lei in Hawaii. In some Pacific island cultures, a Gardenia flower worn on the right ear means that you’re available; worn on the left ear means that you’re married. In Tahiti, a common perfume oil called, Monoi Tiare Tahiti, is made by infusing the fresh flowers in coconut oil using the enfleurage method (soaking fresh flowers in oil and replacing them out with fresh until the oil extracts enough of the flowers’ natural essential oils).

Gardenia Close Up

If you’ve ever buried your face in a huge Gardenia flower, you know that they are extremely fragrant with a heady, floral aroma similar to the intensity of Jasmine. Like Jasmine, Gardenia flowers are also edible! If you want to make crystallized Gardenia petals for desserts or blend up into the best floral homemade ice cream you’ll ever taste, use the blossoms from plants that you’ve grown, or source them from companies that sell flowers that have not been sprayed with chemicals (regular florists’ gardenias are typically sprayed).

If you love the heady aroma of this precious flower, a true Gardenia essential oil is extremely rare. In over 15 years of working with essential oils, I have only ever seen ONE supplier carry a rare & limited edition of Gardenia essential oil, which cost $3000 for an ounce! So if you see Gardenia fragrances, beware: 99% of the time it’s made from artificial fragrances, which are toxic. {More on that here}. One way to enjoy the real Gardenia flower scent is to infuse the flowers into your own lusciously-scented body oil using organic flowers or flowers from your garden.

Just as the flowers are luminous in the moonlight, Gardenias help us look at our shadow sides, or sides of ourselves that we don’t necessarily want to look at. They are aspects of ourselves that we avoid, because perhaps they are messy, imperfect or painful.

With the Gardenia elixir, parts of ourselves that we either run away from or avoid for some reason, can emerge into our consciousness with Gardenia. We can learn to love these aspects of ourselves, which in some cases transforms them immediately into a powerful strength, rather than a weakness. Oftentimes what we judge as a ‘weakness’ is simply our own aversion to vulnerability; once we are able to fully invite all parts of ourselves to the table, then we can have a very dynamic dinner conversation.


Something I often reminded my clients of was that you couldn’t attain a rich soil for growing things without compost. If you’ve ever seen compost piles, you know that they are stinky, with rotting vegetables, egg shells and slime. However, all of these things enrich the soil.

In order to develop the beauty of authenticity, our own rich soil, it becomes necessary for us to acknowledge and accept ALL parts of ourselves, even the ones we feel are stinky or slimy. Gardenia helps us to see all parts of ourselves as beautiful, worthy and loveable.


{Magnifies} Seeing your “shadow” side in a positive light; transforming your perceived weaknesses into strengths, embracing all aspects of your self as beautiful

{Dissolves} Fear of your “shadow” side; avoidance of your perceived weaknesses; judging as negative particular aspects of your personality

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Love + flower petals,







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