Whether medicinal plants, roses or kitchen spices - Andrea Bregar is enthusiastic about everything that is green and blooming. She is particularly fond of those parts of the plant that are rarely seen: the roots.
Herbs, medicinal plants, aromas - working with plants is one thing above all for Andrea Bregar: "Passion!" She imbibed this passion with her first breaths, because her mother's and grandmother's large farm garden triggered her enthusiasm from childhood on. The garden has grown with it - as has her knowledge of medicinal, culinary and wild herbs and their uses.
One of them is distilling them into essential oils. "These are not only absorbed through the nose, but also through the skin." Made into cold and cough balms, they provide relief. "My kids love the smearing and kneading. I'm a big fan of massages myself, to which I bring my own massage oil that's just right for me."
She passes on her knowledge of production methods, but also of how to recognize the quality of essential oils, in courses and lectures. This has nothing to do with esotericism, but a lot to do with knowledge and experience. This is also appreciated by the participants who come to her in Gossendorf near Feldbach from the surrounding area, but also from all over Austria and Germany.
How to know: Precise selection and careful processingAndrea Bregar has both feet firmly on the ground - and also knows what can be found one floor below, among the flowers, grasses and leaves. She is particularly fascinated by roots. "Each one looks different, each one smells different." Some have always been part of the medicine cabinet: the controversial comfrey, for example, or marshmallow. Less well known, for example, are wild carrot and evening primrose root. Both are used in vegetable cooking.
"Wild carrots are a bit more difficult to harvest than cultivated ones, but taste much more intense. Evening primrose roots should definitely be used before flowering, then they are fleshy and tender, which is why they are also called Schinkwurz," explains Bregar.
Andrea Bregar is fascinated by diversity in every respect. That's one of the reasons she's experimenting with perfume making. "The possibilities here are simply inexhaustible. If you don't take notes, you definitely won't get a blend exactly the same a second time." But Bregar also realizes how limited our perception of scent already is.
"People are already so used to the synthetic smells that they often don't recognize the natural aromas." That's when it takes a slow approach to move from synthetic vanillin back to natural vanilla, which is healthier and more aromatic. Bregar himself prefers - no surprise - earthy, resinous scents. Down-to-earth, yet seductive.
And her passion for herbs and scents is something the next generation will pick up casually. "My oldest son already knows every plant, even the most unusual," she says happily.