Where it all Began
I've always been a bit of a hopeless Romantic...
My favourite books and stories - the Gothic novels, the Victorian mysteries, old legends and folklore, and sprawling epic fantasies - were always the ones in which the heroes understood their irreplaceable connection to Nature.
In the 19th century, Romantic writers railed against the perceived dangers of the Industrial Revolution: individual craftspeople were made obsolete by mass production; wild places were being plundered for resources on a never-before-seen scale; and people were feeling more and more fascination with the latest technology, and less and less awe for the natural environment. It is unsettling how much these themes still resonate today, perhaps more so than ever. I wonder what these writers would have to say about how we're going now, in the 21st century?
Anyway, my love for stories is where everything started. Straight after leaving high school, I enrolled in a Fine Arts (Creative and Professional Writing) degree, from which I graduated with Distinction. I enjoyed it so much that I went back and did an Honours degree, and there, I graduated with First Class. I loved that so much that I went back and started on my PhD... and that is where I had to take pause.
It occurred to me, mid-way through the program, that I was no longer being creative. I had reached a significant turning point in my life, but it had gone completely unnoticed. I had gone to university to study art, but I was no longer an artist. I had instead been turned into an academic. I admire academics, of course, and I admire academia - and reading books for a living sounds like my definition of heaven. Yet, I couldn't read a book without analysing it. I couldn't write without thinking about how what I was producing needed to reflect the Poststructural paradigm I was working within. It was stifling, it was miserable, and I needed a change. Dropping out of the PhD program was the right decision for me, but it was nevertheless the most challenging time of my life.
While this was going on, I moved to a new apartment that had a small garden. I didn't know too much about gardening, so, as I always tend to do, I nerded out and read up on it. Organic gardening, which eschews synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, leapt out at me right away. Before long, I had a bunch of happy little herbs and flowers, and a fierce new love and obsession.
I knew then that whatever I wanted the next stage of my life to be, I wanted these beautiful plants to be an integral part of it. What followed was the joy of being out in nature, and of being creative, working with my hands, rather than with my nose buried in a book (though I still do a lot of that, too!). I had always loved natural perfumes, and had worn them all through my life. What would it take to make one, I wondered? What else can I do with flowers and herbs? And how can I do it respectfully, sharing the joy of these natural gifts, but doing no harm in the process?
I began the project that became Dragon Grove Fragrances in 2019, experimenting with different botanicals and techniques, and always learning more through practical experience. I chose the name "Dragon Grove" to acknowledge my love of fantasy literature in particular. When we smell a beautiful flower, our eyes snap shut as the scent transports us, and we escape, briefly, to another world. The "Dragon Grove" is my ideal for my creations: an experience of another place, far from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, where Nature resides and thrives.
I truly hope that you enjoy my products as much as I enjoyed making them. And thank you, so much, for joining me on this journey as I learn more and more, develop further as an artist, and create new things. I have received so much support, praise and encouragement from you, my valued customers, and it really means the world to me.
- Tyler Bartlett