Jonathan van Bilsen
Special to The Standard
When I think of art, my thoughts usually drift to paintings, watercolours, photography, metal sculpture and even jewellery, but I have never associated living flowers with artistry. Sure, I enjoy images of flora when painted or photographed, but in the ground I had never thought of them as being artistic, that is, until I met Mila Haynos-Owen.
Mila makes lovely, artistic things from lavender plants, which she grows in her back yard. Of course, during the months of June, July and August, her garden consists of acres of lavender, all blooming in spectacular hues of mauve and purple. So where does the art come in?
First, I should mention that Mila is a participant in this year's Lake Scugog Studio Tour, which takes place the weekend of April 30 to May 1st. It is Mila's first time in the 16 year old tour, but will probably not be her last. The studio tour features 30 artists who open their homes and studios for two beautiful spring days, where the general public can visit, chat and even purchase some amazing, unique, one of a kind, art pieces.
Let me get back to the lavender art of Mila Haynos-Owen. In order to fully appreciate the talent this woman has in her craft, we must journey into her past, where her artistic skills were first honed. Mila was born in the beautiful hill country of Poland, and immigrated to Canada in her youth. She demanded more out of her life and moved to Germany, where she taught English as a second language, to business people.
Eventually she decided to settle in Canada, and returned to the Toronto area, where she married and began to raise her three children. Taking on the immensely difficult task of homeschooling, she successfully reared her kids in this lifestyle for ten years. City life was not meant for Mila, and the family decided to take up stakes and plant their roots just north of Port Perry, in the lovely community of Seagrave.
Their property, will be open to the public for the studio tour, and along with Mila’s art, you will also be able to see some of the 40 animals, which include ducks, geese and a pot belly pig.
Mila has been working in lavender since 2007, and started her craft as a hobby. Her passion grew and her art became appreciated by more and more people. She takes her art from start to finish, growing the plants, harvesting them, drying them and applying them to various media, all manually. Mila teaches the versatility of lavender to people interested in becoming involved in this unique medium.
"Once I have dried the lavender, I begin to utilize its uniqueness in homemade cosmetics, lip balm, bath salts and so much more," Mila explains. "I have partnered with Savon du Bois, a local soap manufacturer, to create a very versatile and well received product." Lavender, although very popular in English gardens, originates along the Mediterranean shores, and was first used commercially by the French in their perfumes.
Along with cosmetics, Mila creates unique bouquets for weddings and special occasions, as well as satchels of lavender scented flowers for freshening up closets and drawers. "It is so much nicer to inhale fresh lavender than artificial scents," Mila said, smiling as she spoke, and I have to agree; the scent is amazingly pleasant. Mila also creates greeting cards, artwork and crafts, all comprised of lavender. "It is pleasant to grow, and animals do not eat it."
During this year's studio tour, a visit to Mila's lavender farm is a must, if only to experience the uniqueness of her craft. Two guest artists, Anja Kooistra and Lela Filipovski will be joining Mila for a trio of amazing work. To learn more of Mila's art form, visit her website at lavender-blu.com. For a map of the studio tour and complete list of artists, visit scugogstudiotour.ca and enjoy the start of another fantastic Spring season, in and around beautiful Port Perry.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a photographer, columnist and author. Follow his adventures at photosNtravel.com
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Jonathan van Bilsen
Join Jonathan van Bilsen in the Standard as he begins a series of feature articles on prominent residents of North Durham in his new column, The Story Behind The Person.