As locals, the summer can start to feel like a lot to handle in Traverse City. As appreciated as tourists can be, it’s not all cherries and sunshine, so many times it’s fun to “play tourist” for a little fun and relaxation. One such adventure is a visit to the Secret Garden at the Old Mission Peninsula winery, Brys Estate.
To arrive at this little haven, we drove north on Center Road where we were able to leave the traffic and hecticness of a Traverse City summer behind. On our picturesque journey, we passed vineyards and fruit orchards along with the beautiful views of Grand Traverse Bay. Making the turn on Blue Water Road, we followed signs that encouraged us up a twisting gravel road between a small stand of woods. Here, we were flanked by an old orchard on one side and the glossy leaves of a new vineyard on the other, and then in between – lavender – lots of lavender. Deep purple, light gray, and periwinkle, the colors were true and rich. Immediately, we felt a deep sense of calm.
Katie Brys, one of the owners, greeted us and encouraged us to walk among the purple plants. The air was sweetly perfumed. She explained each of the different varieties that were present. Each variety was planted three years ago on land that was not favorable to grapes. The hope was that the Secret Garden would be an oasis in the midst of the hectic life that many of us live. Handmade wooden signs remind visitors to be still and relax in a garden.
In the charming white-sided gift shop, we were treated to lavender lemonade, lavender shortbread, and blueberry-white chocolate chip cookies. Lavender is known for its calming properties. Katie has incorporated it into pet collars, Christmas ornaments, pillow cases, sachets of all shapes and sizes and other assorted gift items. Each of the sachets are made from recycled fabric.
We were instructed to linger, and we did so gladly. Katie pointed out where the strawberry patch and blueberry bushes are located. Both fruits are soon to be “u-pick” opportunities for visitors. A colorful cutting garden grows next to a herb garden and more lavender in neat rows. This truly felt like a place of peace. Near the gardens were white benches and picnic tables that invited us to slow down. We sat in wicker rockers on the deep porch of the gift shop to enjoy the lemonade and cookies. The sky was bright blue, the birds were chirping, and the scene was restful.
To end the calming experience, we made our purchases and headed home. Soon, we entered the stream of Traverse City tourist traffic, but we weren’t stressed because the car smelled of lavender and the peace of The Secret Garden remained.