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The Crones Garden

Planting Magical Gardens

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By: Patricia Monaghan
 
Tender shoots, sleeping seeds,
Gentle Devas,
Watch over this garden,
Make it fertile, make it green,
Make it bloom.

All gardens are magical--and all gardeners are magicians. With the wizardry of earth and seed, the gardener transforms the world into a place of beauty, power, and healing. This year, acknowledge the connection between gardening and magic deliberately by creating a sacred space dedicated to your craft. Perhaps it will be a small space filled with significant plants and symbols--one to admire from your window--or it might be a larger space, big enough for meditations, invocations, and general witching work. Your garden might be dedicated to a deva or divinity; it might recall an ancient ritual or myth in its selection and placement of plants. Your dreams and traditions will tell you how to build your own Witches' garden. Here are a few ideas to inspire you.

A Witches' Pentacle Garden

The pentacle, the witch's symbol, makes a simple shape for a garden of mixed perennial and annual flowers. To construct such a garden, find a sunny spot of any size and dig out a circular bed. Within it, "draw" a pentacle by stringing twine among five posts, set equally distant around the circle. This will create a central pentagon. Fill it with plants whose names express your craft: "Diana"; the "daylillies" named "Merry Witch" and "Wicked Witch", "Witch's Thimble" and "Moon Witch"; and "Magic Lilies", whose flowers bolt surprisingly directly from the ground, to bloom with extravagant fragrance.

Plant the arms of your starry pentacle with light-green chamomile around a filling of darker-green mint; then place round clumps of Dianthus "Essex Witch" at each point of the star. Surround this whole design with a circle of green parsley, and densely plant dainty sweet alyssum as the pentacle's background. Your pentacle is now ready to shine back at the night's stars--and at you.

A Two-Headed Flower Dragon

Dragons in the garden? Why not? As symbols of the element of water, dragons should be welcome among your flowers. Try constructing a garden in the shape of a two-headed dragon, called an amphisbaena. Use a hose to outline a circle. Making a opening in the circle, create an inner circle offset from the first, forming snaky "dragon heads" at the entry. Then build a scaly back at the thickest part of the circle, with two trellises planted with "Magic Dragon" roses and separated by several feet. Opposite, make eyes with dwarf Japanese holly called "Green Dragon"; surround them with the ground-covering liriope called "Silver Dragon", which will form a soft hair to offset the dragon's eyes.

A band of perennial creeper "Dragon's Blood" sedum forms the belly of your dragon. Behind it and before the trellises, establish drifts of "False Dragonhead". Finally, on the outer edges of the garden, plant the scaly surge called "Jade Dragon". Between the trellises, place a bench, then add porcelain pots with dragon designs at its sides. Your garden will never thirst with such a protector guarding it.

The Artemisia Glade

The common garden plant artemisia is said to have so delighted the wildwood goddess Artemis that she named it after herself. In her honor, establish a little glade of her favorite flower. Find a narrow area with good Sun, then fill it with drifts of the silver-leafed plants. Given Artemis' penchant for wilderness, be sure to avoid regimented rows!

Begin by establishing focal points with tall "Artemisia lactiflora" (white mugwort). Then add sculptural accents with fragrant "Artemisia California montara" (California sagebrush), a gracefully cascading mounding shrub that will grow to two feet tall. Opposite, place "Artemis fiffolia", a small native shrub with airy, feathery foliage. Finally, fill in the remaining sections near the pathways with Artemisias "Silver Mound" and "Canescens", both smallish perennials which, once established, create attractive mounds of silvery gray, feathery foliage.

Artemisias, once established, thrive and expand. You may find gardener friends with older Artemisia beds which they are willing to divide. You might substitute some of the above suggestions with gift plants of similar heights and shapes. You can't really mismatch Artemisias; the family demands similar culture and location, and the varieties of related foliage will be invariably pleasing.

Other Ideas

There are endless ideas for gardens based in myth and magic. Try a red garden for Mars, or a white one for the Moon. Build a zodiac garden with herbs for each planet. Divide the yard according to the wheel of the year, and create plantings for each festival. Place sculptures and symbols among the plants. Your garden is a magical place already. Let yourself make it even more so!

All information was taken from Llewellyn's Witches' Calendar April 1998.