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Article ID: 13225
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: April 5th. 2009
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Here, in USDA zone 6, PA, the crocuses, tulips and daffodils have shown their leaves, if not their flowers, for the last two weeks. The earth is astir once more after the dormancy of winter, teasing the imagination into green daydreams of overflowing flower boxes, new plants becoming robust winners and last year’s herbs becoming stronger and lusher than ever. It is the ideal culmination of success for a botanical magistra
Every spell and incantation takes preparation, patience and a realistic assessment of probable outcome. Till the ground or create a raised bed. Pot or not to pot. Plant seeds or buy ready to plant seedlings. Numerous empty clay and plastic “cauldrons” bubble forth into imaginary, elongated dialog balloons entreating to be the showcase containers of future, flowering brugmansias, petunias and tomatoes.
Anyone claiming to be a practitioner of the occult arts should cultivate at least ONE herbaceous plant on their windowsill, doorstep or desk at work. Our Pagan – country dweller – ancestors would be dismayed at our current generations’ farming naďveté. Their lives, literally, depended on the fruits of their labors. In addition to food, healers needed such plants as comfrey, peppermint, valerian and belladonna to staunch blood, alleviate nausea, sedate and reduce pain.
Onions drew boils to a head as well as flavored soups and stews. Dandelion leaves were, and are, a spring tonic useful in teas and salad greens. The flowers still make an excellent wine. Artistic Druids are a natural choice for utilizing fruit and nut trees for their beauty as well as for besom, divining rod and wand making materials.
To dish the dirt on dirt, the best potting soil comes in dainty, manageable and hernia producing sized bags at most popular home and garden centers. Get the ones with fertilizer embedded, time release formulas. It will give your botanical children the best of pre-natal care and hope to those who claim, “I can’t get anything to grow” as they disregard the fungus reproducing on a decaying matrix in their polar garden, a.k.a. refrigerator.
Boast your witchy talents and grow a diabolical assortment of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. In centuries past, these were considered the foods of the Devil. Today, it makes a luscious, Luciferian casserole by adding shredded cheese and an herbed, breadcrumb topping. Yesteryear’s tomatoes, called love apples, were thought poisonous. Their rank smelling leaves, common to numerous nightshades, enhanced the evil reputation. Solanum flowers are often very small, hang in clusters and bear fruit from the center. These similarities were accurately noted among the peppers and eggplants as well. They were logically avoided until brave sorceresses and their underfed, intimidated apprentices enlightened the food eating public by ingesting forbidden fruits and magically surviving.
For the culinary, cauldron challenged, botanical children of the night alluringly intoxicate the atmosphere after the sun goes down. Brugmansias, petunias and daturas, especially the white flowered varieties, are excellent specimens for the lunar garden. Silvery, green leaved mugwort and wormwood of the genus Artemisia emit a spooky effect. Place a mercury colored gazing ball among them. It’s a stunning full moon scenario.
Use gloves when handling nightshades. Brave macho types have no immunity from severe irritation. Barehanded pepper juice accidentally rubbed against the eyes will bring immediate pain and prove the phrase “hotter than hell”. Depending on preference and budget, gloves can be simple cotton, unecological throw-aways or thick no nonsense serious styles with a rubberized surface on the palm side. Colors range from blah to day-glow.
Hats are optional unless a health problem makes it absolutely necessary. PLEASE, don’t wear tall, pointy chapeaus, whether black with a three-inch brim or parti-colored with bell balls attached. It’s been a long time since the days of being drawn and quartered or burned at the stake. Let’s keep it that way.
Herbs are best for new gardeners, children, work-a-holics and the permanently lazy. Once planted, chives will continue to grow and multiply for years in spite of complete neglect. Mints should be potted to avoid becoming invasive. Pizza lovers must have oregano. Great with tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Basil, an annual, became a popular yuppie herb. It grows easily from seed. If you have thyme on your hands, plants a large pot with various types. It’s an all-purpose seasoning and a good tonic tea. Lemon verbena is a wonderful summer chilled drink, room freshener and the best citric smelling herb available. Use borage flowers in ice cubes. Their unique blue blooms look fascinating in a clear beverage.
Rose petals and nasturtium flowers are edible as long as they are not sprayed with an insecticide labeled sporting a skull and crossbones on the container. Use them in salads or in vanilla ice cream desserts. For a natural sweetener, try stevia. It will grow into a three foot annual and each leaf can be used as a spoonful of sugar. No calories. No unpleasant chemicals.
Rosemary is another herb staple than can also be shaped as topiary. Its sprigs are edible, best with lamb, smell great as incense and the twigs freshen a room when burned in the fireplace. In slightly warmer climates – southeast England in particular—it makes a great hedge. According to the last authoress Adele Grenier Simmons, “a dry rosemary is a dead rosemary.” True. Keep it constantly moist, but not soggy.
Parsley, the underrated hero of the garden, is best remembered in potato salads, soups, stews and the pretty garnish on many a restaurant plate. Don’t ignore it. It is a natural breath freshener and the often discarded sprig should be eaten in its entirety at the end of a meal. No candy coated, plastic boxed confection has the magical properties of this humble herb. It is a vitamin-enriched mouthful of pleasant scented refreshment in the truest sense of the word.
Find your favorite plants by visiting a well-stocked garden center. Don’t be afraid of bruising the leaves and sniffing the fragrance. Buy what appeals to you. If a special magical working calls for a certain herb, obtain and use the freshest. The best achieves the best! If the plant can’t be placed in the ground, buy the best, fanciest, most emotionally pleasing container you can afford. These are your botanical babies. Show them off to their best advantage. Be proud of them. These true earthlings bring profound rewards.
Think outside the flowerbox.
Plant the chant.
Location: Hamburg, Pennsylvania
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