Friday, September 13, 2013

Garden Path

Welcome to Tara MacWhirter's beautiful five acre homestead located just outside  the town of Vankleek Hill, Ontario. It is here that Tara began Garden Path Homemade Soaps and lives with her husband and two teenage sons.

When I heard that my cousin Tara and her family bought a new home several years ago I was really excited for them. The property was a few minutes drive from her parents farm where she grew up and it was an area that she had always wanted to return to. It's previous owners were avid gardeners, and although Tara and her husband enjoyed gardening, they knew that maintaining this property would be a challenge to take on.

Over the years the gardens took well to their new owners and when Tara's hobby of soap making became a business, she began adding more plants and flowers. Many are used in the soaps such as calendula, chamomile and hopefully by next summer the newly planted lavender will be thriving.

Along with many perennials, the property also has a small apple orchard with seven varieties of trees. There are always more apples than the family can use so I brought some home and made an apple crisp.

Giant sunflowers are a dramatic feature in the garden and every year they thrive here lining the length of one of the barns.

There are so many picturesque spots on this property, a dream for a photography enthusiast like myself. This is the pond at the back of the land, there is a little foot bridge across it and a bench under the willow tree to take everything in.

Aside from the beautiful gardens, the family also has four bee hives. Tara's in-laws kept bees for many years and now her boys have been enjoying carrying on the tradition.

Many creatures call this home, but the monarch butterfly plays a special role. They are raised here and released, the property has been designated a monarch waystation by monarchwatch. This is why Garden Path Handmade Soaps uses this as their logo.

Tara has dozens of varieties of soaps from sweet grass to vanilla, and there are several bars for specific skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. There are even soaps that use local products such as Beau's All Natural Beer and the Vankleek Hill Vineyard.

Not only are there handmade soaps, there are also other products such as laundry soap, bug sprays, facial cleansers and more! Fans of Garden Path can now purchase their favorite products at the new retail shop on the property, which had been dream of Tara's for several years. I think it's pretty obvious that huge smiles run in the family.