Since she was old enough to know a bluebell from a blueberry, Tammy Fender has had a certain reverence for the plant kingdom. Now a world-renowned aesthetician and owner of an eponymous spa in West Palm Beach, she harnesses the power of plants to create holistic, nourishing skin care and treatments based on ancient botanical remedies. Fender talks to PBI about her formulations, travels in search of healing plants, and abiding love of nature.
PBI: You’ve referred to plants as “God’s pharmacy.” Tell me what that means to you.
Fender: Plants are a food source and a medicinal source for us, but I also think they carry this living conscious- ness. The inhalation of a plant’s fragrance has a direct connection to the brain. What it triggers for you, emotionally or mentally, is supportive and healing. Over so many years, I’ve been awed by the potency and elegant efficacy of plants that help
heal the human body, but also help balance the emotions and uplift the spirit.
How has your botanical education evolved?
I have always had a deep love of the plant kingdom and have always felt at home among the plants. Many years ago, when my husband and I moved to an outer island in the Bahamas, he was involved in a project to help build infrastructure. I spent the days studying, but since there weren’t any doctors on the island, I was also able to help out, using the plant remedies I’d been learning about. I’d see that geranium actually can help stop bleeding, and that dill is a good cure for constipation. I brought the practice to life.
Sometimes you travel to source your botanicals. Why is that important?
I was recently at a château in France, and it was beautiful to see the medicinal medieval gardens and meet the monks who still work with the botanicals to make tinctures. There was such a sacredness to caring for those gardens that had been there for centuries, and to keeping the traditions alive.
What have been some of your most exciting botanical discoveries?
One of my favorites is helichrysum. It has such a healing ability. It is said to reabsorb blood into the tissue and to be so reparative to the skin. There is also an extraction process to German chamomile where we’re utilizing a super-critical fluid, meaning the essence or life force. It’s both water- and oil-soluble, and when you use both parts of the plant, you get the deepest nourishment.
You garden and keep bees. How does that connection to nature nourish you?
Through the plants, and sitting with them in the garden, I feel so connected to nature as a whole. Somehow when I’m with the plants, I feel like I’m in my just-right spot, that I’ve found my sacred place and a deeper connection on the planet.