It’s a Witchy Wednesday post on time – in which I will focus on gardening. I know, it’s January here in the northern hemisphere the ground is cold and frozen. Frigid ground aside, January is when I begin to plan and think about my garden. I have all the time now to evaluate what went well last year and plan better for this year. Anyway, when it’s cold outside doesn’t everyone like to look at flowers and plan for spring?
Gardening isn’t something I do because I enjoy it. I do it because I’m a witch and frankly, growing and using plants is just a witchy thing to do. Even though most of my adult life I’ve lived in city apartments and condos, I have always had a few “unusual” plants (and some not so unusual). One reason I love gardening so much is it keeps me grounded and connected to the natural world. I can make an effort to eat seasonally and go outside for a little bit everyday and all of that – but it’s nothing like knowing when “harvest” season is because your garden is full of vegetables. Another reason I like to garden is more practical: in the end, I save money. I sometimes grow food, but mostly I save money because I grow herbs and my magical plants. Also, most herbs are sold dried, and I grow some to have access to the fresh plant. Not that dried herbs aren’t useful, if you have a successful garden you’ll want to dry some to use throughout the year, but dried herbs aren’t as lovely and aromatic in most cases as their fresh versions. Finally, growing your own magical plants opens up many more possibilities. For instance, you can work a spell by putting a sachet in the bottom of a plant and as the plant grows that energy will also grow and radiate. So by growing your own witches garden you’ll open yourself up to a whole new kind of magic as well as enjoy the fruits of your efforts.
There’s really no such thing as a “traditional” witches garden, throughout times and cultures the magical lore and plants have changed. Many people base their “traditional” witches garden off medieval European folklore and stock it with plants like: henbane, wolfsbane, poppy, mandrake, belladonna, lavender, marigolds, and foxglove. All of these plants are lovely and I have grown most of them at some point or another. However, a classical Greek witches garden would undoubtedly look different. You, assuming you are a witch, are also different and your magical garden should reflect your practice. I have gotten caught up in the “image” of it. I know it’s just cool to be able to say “oh, you see that plan over there? Yeah, that’s Belladonna – also known as Deadly Nightshade.” I get it. As awesome as it that is, unless you are using belladonna regularly it’s not “necessary” to your witches garden now is it? To start with, first make a good list of the herbs you actually use. Start with your favorite or “usual” plants and branch out if you want to.
Once you have a list of plants to choose from you can research your plants and the growing conditions in your home. Now, as a city dweller, I have to admit I feel like for the most part, I have an advantage here. Container gardening (always an option) gives you a lot of flexibility in growing conditions since you get to control light levels (use additional if necessary or move indoors if less), soil conditions, water, temperature, and weather. The major drawback is being “stuck” with the container size. Mandrake for example, likes to dig deep – that can be problematic in a pot. Be sure to decide which plants would be easiest for you to grow in pots or in the ground. Consider micro-evinronments as well, like balconies where wind is often a problem. (Also, urban dwellers don’t forget plant thieving neighbors, I actually had one of those.) Container gardening is great because you can control so much, but my personal experience is you might want to limit your special snowflake plants to a few with the majority being well suited to your natural environment. I lucked out and my mugwort actually survived a year and a half before being done in by a period of extreme heat and drought. It was a surprise because I bought her on a whim but she actually REALLY thrived on my balcony. As a result, there was so much bounty as well as she was such a beautiful low maintenance plant, she was my favorite plant. Not to mention her own peaceful energy on the deck was a nice welcoming presence. If you’re not an experience gardener, these “good fit” plants can really build your confidence and be blessing to you in so many ways. Don’t make it too hard on yourself, pick well suited plants.
I grow what I use magically, in the kitchen, and a few “pretties.” Some of my favorite pretties can also be used and sometimes do pop up in my magic, but I probably wouldn’t have used them if I hadn’t grown them. Kitchen herbs I have grown for at least 10 years now, and I also sometimes use them in magic. The difference between kitchen and magic herbs is quantity. For magic, I need one or two plants at most, only I am using from my garden (unless I have a really great year), but in the kitchen herbs don’t go as far. I usually grown at least three basil plants of sweet basil (for pesto and salads), and two holy basils. Additionally, I let the holy basils go to seed one year because it looked so lovely so… if I don’t plant anything I will always have basil sprouting in the spring! I like to keep a medium sized rosemary bush in a mini-tree form, in the winter I bring it indoors – it looks like a mini Christmas tree and smells wonderful. Aside from those plants what else is in this witches garden?
- Balloon Flower (killed it actually, think the dog peed on it)
- Basil (all kinds)
- Chamomile (Roman)
- Echinacea or Cone Flower (local variety)
- Hens n Chicks, also known in folklore as House Leeks
- Kitchen Sage
- Lavender (English and also hybrids)
- Lettuce (a good salad mix actually has been a huge money saver for me in the past because lettuce is almost always expensive!)
- Morning Glory
- Oregano (on plant is always more than enough for me)
- Roses (for urban dwellers look at climbing varieties with a trellis and dwarf varieties or patio roses).
- Spearmint (Mints are invasive so even if the space is avaliable, it’s good to keep them in a pot or you may find yourself with a mint problem. Also mints have a real issue with bolting, once it bolts and flowers it no longer is great tasting.)
- White Sage
I haven’t made my mind up for this year, but you can expect a lot of those in play. My dream garden would also include aconite, belladonna, wolfsbane, henbane, rowan, elder, hawthorne, blackberrys, borage, rue, comfrey, elfwort, broom, lady’s mantle, and daisies. Oh, also add to that apple trees as a hedge and a walnut tree. I’d need a big yard for all of that but, a girl can dream.