I’ve been working on a seriously chill, romantic, 1920’s vibe in my garden this year. It is starting to come together.
My garden is offering up the dreamiest bouquets right now.
Below: Foxgloves, lupines, lavender, and mint.
I fell in love with lupines many years ago when I discovered Barbara Cooney’s classic Miss Rumphius.
This sweet tale of Alice Rumphius who planted lupines to make the world a more beautiful place made me long to plant them myself.
So, this year, I did.
As some of you know, Geist inspired me to plant a witch’s garden this year (poison and herbs).
Tending it and watching it emerge has proven one of the sweetest parts of 2019.
My Oriental Poppies spent the week unfolding their velvety goodness:
So we could share in this gorgeousness:
Pansies fade and leave behind these little seed wonders:
My Spotted Lilies burst their seeds to make sure the garden is packed with them next year.
The chamomile blossoms coat just about every nook and cranny of the herb garden, which means time for a bit of a harvest:
Tea mixing is something of an art that I started working with earlier this year. My herb gardens are, for the most part, planted with tea mixtures in mind.
This is my first tea of the season – Iranian rose and apple mint, dried yesterday and mixed this morning.
I just brewed the first cup. Absolutely romantic and soothing, like a gentle breeze whisking all cares away.
Rose and mint have a long magickal and folkloric history:
Pliny describes peppermint as a common head wreath, table decoration, and flavoring agent for wines and sauces at Greek and Roman feasts. There is evidence of peppermint cultivation by the Egyptians, and it is mentioned in 13th-century Icelandic pharmacopoeias, although it did not come into general medical use until the 18th-century in England. Mint was a popular medieval flavoring for whiskey in Scotland.
Uses: (thanks to Witchipedia for this great info)
Mint corresponds to the element Air and the planet Venus. It is a strengthening herb that aids us in psychic and verbal communication and adds strength to our words. Because mint is so often used in sweets iconic to the midwinter season, it can be used in any Winter Solstice celebration as a food additive or fragrances.
Mint was used in ancient Greek funerary rites to mask the scent of decaying bodies and was tied to Hades in myth. Thus, it is an appropriate herb to use in ritual related to the dead and the underworld.
The Key of Solomon the King recommends combining mint with vervain, fennel, lavender, sage, valerian, garden-basil, rosemary, and hyssop tied in a bundle for use as an aspergillum to sprinkle holy water while the Grimorium Verum suggests using mint, marjoram, and rosemary bundled for the same purpose.
Drunk as a tea, mint adds strength to our words, increasing the success of all oratory, including, prayers, spells, speeches and presentations, vows of love, legal arguments- or any arguments, political debates, business negotiations, and performances.
Mint is a powerful herb that can be used to increase personal strength and build up the fortitude needed to overcome difficulties and restrictions placed upon you whether through magical or mundane means. Thus, it is an excellent addition to uncrossing mixtures as well as working for courage and strength to prepare for upcoming challenges in the workplace and in relationships. It can be for breaking streaks of bad luck of all sorts and jinxes, whether self-inflicted or otherwise and it can be carried to protect from falling victim to streaks of bad luck or trickery from other people by keeping the mind alert to those “red flags” that tell us that a person or situation might be trouble down the road and helping to give us the strength to walk away before things get too bad.
Mint can be used as a floor wash or grown in and around the house to keep away trouble and troublesome people. After a disruption in the household, such as a family argument or break up, this floor wash can help return the home to calm and harmonious energy and encourage normal and fruitful communication.
Carry mint in your shoe or your pocket to prevent bad luck and other obstacles from interfering with your goals and success. Keep some in your wallet to keep your money flowing smoothly.
Combine mint with High John the Conqueror root and calamus to increase your fortitude when you’re getting ready to address whatever situation is getting in the way of your success. (Whether it be curses, crossed conditions, petty people, legal issues or red tape.)
Mint can be added to psychic-enhancing tea, incense, and fragrance oils. Placing mint under your pillow is said to encourage prophetic dreams.
Roses have been cultivated for over 5,000 years. There are 150 natural named species worldwide and thousands more cultivars. The Chinese were the first to cultivate roses and begin hybridizing them.
In the Iliad, Homer mentions that Hector‘s body was anointed with rose oil after he was killed by Achilles. The Greek poet Anacreonsays that the foam that dripped from the body of Aphrodite when she emerged from the sea turned into white roses, later, when she is mourning over the body of her lover Adonis, her tears turn a white rose red. Roses are also associated with Eros, another Greek love God. Sappho called the rose the Queen of the Flowers.
Roses were also important to the Romans. Large public rose gardens were established by the nobility. Both Horace and Pliny wrote advice on the proper growing of roses. They were used as for medicine, fragrance and as confetti at celebrations. In Roman mythology, roses are associated with Flora, Bacchus, Vertumnus, Hymen, Venus and Cupid. Roman brides and grooms were crowned with roses and they were scattered at the feet of the victorious.
In Christian folklore, the red rose has symbolized the blood and suffering of Christ, the five petals representing his five wounds. Roses have also been used to represent Mary and the purity and motherhood associated with her.
In Muslim folklore, one of Muhammed’s wives was accused of adultery. He gave her a bouquet of red roses and told her to throw them into a pool. They turned yellow, indicating her guilt. Another story says that the first rose came a drop of sweat from Muhammed’s brow.
In Jewish folklore, a man once accused a woman of a crime in retribution for refusing his advances. She was to be burned at the stake. Miraculously, the fire does not kill her, but killed him. From his ashes red roses grow, symbolizing his treachery. From the ashes at her feet grow white roses, symbolizing her innocence.
In England, if a petal falls as a rose is being cut, bad luck is sure to follow!
In Italy, only rosebuds, or partially closed roses may be given as gifts. To give a fully open rose to another marks them for death!
Rosewater is a protective agent worn on clothes.
Rose petals can be added to charms against the evil eye.
White roses worn at weddings will bring happiness and security to the couple.
Roses are used traditionally in love spells. It is great in incense and potpourri. Thorns can be used to mark wax figures.
Rosehips can be carried for general good luck or strung like beads for luck in love.
Rose hips can also be used as offerings to encourage friendly spirits to take up residence.
I tend to, much like an actor, take on the interests and oddities of the characters I write about while I’m in the midst of crafting them.
When I started writing Geist, magickal herbalism entered and I dug deep into the study of witchy herbs. Learning about the fantastical properties of hellebore, heather, lilies, foxglove, and more proved fascinating and I became pretty much obsessed with the need to grow a poison garden as well as an edible garden this year.
Since we live in one-thousand square feet in Vancouver, that garden required some major containers. My upstairs neighbour graciously offered two of her unused wooden raised beds and I got to work.
The evolution of that space (and my previously almost non-existent gardening skills) proves more magickal every day.
I’ve come to know hellebore as the most magnificent of species:
I’ve fallen in love with herb bouquets:
Found little gifts from the fae left after Beltane:
Already taken in my first mint harvest:
Met some new friends:
And fallen in love with my back deck again:
After my reminiscing with the spirea in the neighbour’s yard, I went home and tried to write.
Some days, nothing comes out. That is generally a sign that I need to rest the active brain and let the passive brain take over.
My husband is a big fan of passive-brain creativity and, I have to admit, my biggest writing breakthroughs usually come when I have removed myself from the computer and stuck my hands in the dirt.
So, that’s what I did today.
An afternoon later, I popped back into the writer’s studio and made solid progress.
And, a bonus tour of the garden on my back porch: