Lauren May, a.k.a. Must Love Herbs, grew up in an Appalachian garden. Her grandfather was an avid gardener with a magical “wooden garden” that held his perennials and led into his acre-wide vegetable garden. “Everything about growing your own food, flowers, and herbs captivated me from a very young age,” she says. Luckily her grandfather is still alive and, though no longer able to garden himself, guides her through her own gardening journey today.

May’s garden is tucked between two mountains in the same Appalachian valley that her family has lived in for more than 120 years. It’s a well-rounded garden, she says, in the sense that there are vegetables, perennials, herbs, and fruits all growing together. This magical space is entirely her own (and her husband’s) but heavily influenced by those who came before her. Her husband works right beside her, digging holes, editing placement, and picking out new and exciting things to grow. “It’s very much a team effort to accomplish a garden in our very rocky soil!” she says.

For her, being there, her hands in the earth, is pure comfort. “If I’ve had a bad day, I tend to lose my worries in the dirt,” she says. “If I’ve had a wonderful day, it feels even more perfect when I finish it by tending to the plants.” She loves to observe the ecosystem in the garden, from the bees to the birds to the worms. “It’s awe-inspiring to know this delicate balance is existing around you and that you’re very much a part of it. It’s very humbling. To me there is nothing more magical than nature.”

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Carolyn Turgeon is the author of five novels, most of them fairy tales, and the editor-in-chief of Faerie Magazine. She also penned The Faerie Handbook (November 2017) and The Mermaid Handbook (May 2018), both from HarperCollins.