Honored to have been asked to take part in “ROOT”, the inaugural online exhibition hosted by The Organic Centre & creatively coordinated by artist Sarah Ellen Lundy as part of the pairs ongoing collaborative ‘Project Earth’.
The park and gardens at Schloss Berge (Gelsenkirchen) offer interesting perspectives. Portals formed by trees frame and reveal new scenes. High beechwood hedges flank the way into a labyrinth. Staggered arrangements emphasize distances. The area around the former castle is divided into three sections: the French garden with its geometrical flower borders and allegorical sculptures was created during the late baroque period, whereas the widespread English landscape garden was added during the 18th century. Between the two lies a labyrinth, which encloses a lavishly laid out herb garden with espalier fruit trees and plenty of healing herbs.
Fellow photographer Anna Krajewski guided me through this wonderful park, while walking her English bulldog. Mist veiled the nature and buildings and provided a chill and relaxed atmosphere. And so the three of us enjoyed the cool day, after an eventful Walpurgis night…
The first garden at Schloss Berge was created around 1700, in the South of the former mansion. The garden was arranged in the fashion of the time and following the example of French baroque gardens, which are defined by a central visual axis, oblong separated spaces with geometrical flower borders and paths, accompanied by allegorical sculptures depicting scenes and figures from Greek and Roman myth. The message is that of rationalism: the garden is man-made and at distance to a wild untamed nature. These meticulously arranged gardens were high-maintenance and demanded hundreds or even thousands of caretakers. They represented perfection, but ultimately were too fragile. Soon a new trend, from England took over…
The French garden at Schloss Berge was restored during the 1920ies. During the Nazi regime, part of the buildings were torn down and the central flower bed depicted a swastika. The castle was restored after WWII and again in 2004, now housing a hotel and restaurant. During our visit the flower borders at the entrance showed a not-so-subtle FC Schalke 04 theme in blue and white, whereas the central circular bed now depicts the city coat of arms of Gelsenkirchen.
My main interest though was in the trees and shrubs enclosing the French garden, which appeared almost romantic and created wonderful green-in-green contrasts.
The herb garden is part of the French garden and was also restored during the 1920ies. The oblong garden space is enclosed between beechwood hedges and geometrically arranged around a central fruit tree and low pruned fig. Espalier fruit with mossy stems, boxwood and hop form additional spacers between the paths and herb beds. I counted dozens of different kitchen and healing herbs, almost all of which I also include in my seed boxes. 🙂 I was especially thrilled about the old rue plants, which had developed thick wooden stems. I knew rue (and other herbs such as lavender or mugwort) can do this, but from these one could have made wands! The patch of flowering lily of the valley was lovely too. I overall enjoyed the angles and staggered arrangement of low herb beds, beechwood borders and large individual trees in the distance.
In 1790 the owner of Schloss Berge raised to earldom. The former mansion was enlarged and turned into a castle in the style of early neo-classicism. Along with this the park was also expanded towards the West with an English landscape garden.
Seemingly random arrangements of trees and wild plants create scenic settings. A small bridge crosses a hidden channel, which forms the seamless border between garden and forest area. High trees in deepening green reflect on the dark water’s surface. An opening of fresh green male fern contrasts dark yew trees. Wild flowering arums with spotted leaves peek out of the ground and white hawthorn blossoms announce the beginning of May.
Schloss Berge is surrounded by a number of natural and artificial lakes. Visitors can enjoy themselves in one of the beer gardens, rent a pedal boat or simply enjoy a walk through the adjoining nature.
+ Family / Subfamily: Asteraceae / Asteroideae
+ Tribus: Calenduleae
+ Genus: Calendula
+ Species: Calendula officinalis
+ Names: marigold, pot marigold, Garten-Ringelblume, Bride of the Sun, Goldes, Holigolde, Husbandman’s Dial, Marybud, Ruddes, Ruddles, Spousa Solis, Summer’s Bride, Sonnenwend, Todtenblume
The flowers of pot marigold mirror the sun – their radiant petals shine in bright yellow or orange colors from spring to late autumn. According to folk belief, simply looking at them does strengthen the sight. Their magic is – naturally – of the sun and the element fire. Calendula petals added to the bath water create a magical shield and help winning respect and admiration from other people.
The flowers are also perfect for the game “he/she loves me, he/she loves me not” (originally effeuiller la marguerite in French). Though plucking the flower is said to conjure thunderstorms! The flowers were also used in divining one’s future lover: the flower petals were dried with other summer herbs, then ground and made into a salve with honey and vinegar. Young women would then apply the salve before sleep and call upon St. Lukas to dream of their future love. Simpler yet just as effective: scattering the flowers under your bed, they protect in sleep and give prophetic dreams, not only about future lovers, but also when it comes to revealing a thief, that has robbed you.
If you do not believe in the conjuring of thunderstorms, then you may plug the flower at noon, when the sun is highest in the sky, and it will strengthen and comfort the heart.
Peasants too, held marigold in high esteem, since they helped to predict the daily weather: if the flowers open early between 6-7 am, it would be a sunny day ahead; but if they stayed closed beyond 7 am the day would be rainy. The genus name Calendula hints at this: it is modern Latin diminutive of calendae, meaning “little calendar”, “little clock” or possibly “little weather-glass”.
Garlands of marigolds strung on the doorposts stop evil from entering the house. Carried in the pocket, marigold helps justice to smile favorably upon you while in court.
Finally, in the past understanding the language of the birds must have been pivotal, and so it was thought, that if a girl touched the flowers with bare feet, she would be granted that skill.
Medicinal and culinary uses: Marigold is cultivated mainly in Germany and the Netherlands. The flowers are plucked manually or with machines and then dried. Flowers destined to be used as a decorative coloring agent, are dried at 80°C. The petals, fresh or dried, are added to tea and other food. Cheese and butter are colored with marigold. It can also be added to rice during cooking. While marigold itself does not taste like much, it enhances the taste of other food, similar to salt and can be added to pretty much any dish. Since marigold has been used to adulterate saffron, it is also known as “poor man’s saffron”.
In natural medicine, dried marigold flowers are used in various ways, i.e. as a tea, oil, salve, tincture or watery extract:
- internally – against stomach ulcers and pre-menstrual tension syndrom, or as an antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic and anthelmintic
- externally – for treating skin inflammations, contusions, boils and exanthema and promoting wound healing
According to the Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products, the medicinal effects of calendula are not proven, or better said, sufficient surveys are lacking. If you are allergic to other plants in the daisy family, you may avoid marigold.
Pot marigold in the garden: marigold is such an easy plant, with so many good traits, that it could almost be considered a sin, to not grow it! It grows basically anywhere and in any soil, but if you want a strong marigold, full of flowers then plant it – of course – where it gets all of the sun! A clayey soil seems to be favorable as well. Too much nitrogen fertilizer impairs flowering, likewise does a lack of potassium and phosphor. Elin Unnes suggests to do like Annemarta Borgen: in a bucket blend the seeds with peat dust and water and then simply throw it wherever you want marigold to grow.
While I adore the flowers of pot marigold, the real treat for me are the seeds. Not only, because they are so differently shaped, but because they seem to resemble little dragons or fossilized animal bones. And yes, the strange claws from the outside of the faded flower up to the small curled up things in the center are in fact all seeds! The German name Ringelblume means “ringed flower” and is derived from the curled shape of the seeds. Now, after a year of blooming there are plenty of them and they ensure a new and profuse generation of marigold plants – typical for annuals! If on the other hand, you mind your pot marigold multiplying exponentially, dead-heading is a thing.
Pot marigold seeds are rich in oils. Do you know about any uses for them?
Propagation by seed: An easy plant that readily self-seeds! Sow from April – August. Sow 0,5 cm deep and cover loosely with soil. The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks at temperatures around 20°C. Calendula thrives in sun to half shade. The soil should be fresh, humus rich or clayey and well drained. Plant 25 cm apart. The annual plant gets 50 cm tall, with bright orange or yellow flowers. Some garden varieties have extra large and filled flowers. Pot marigold has a long duration of flowering. The petals can be added to salads. The seeds are rich in oils. Calendula has a positive effect on the soil and can be planted as a companion in any cottage, ornamental or kitchen garden.
Addendum: the origin of pot marigold is unknown. Some say it once came to Europe from Egypt and then was carried on with colonists to the New World. Or it once escaped from gardens and then was naturalized all around the world.
Not to be confused with the French or Mexican marigolds in the tagetes family!
Links and further reading:
When you find out an author you admire follows your blog, then quickly order their freshly translated book in German, only to receive an email from said author shortly after, that they would like to send you a free copy!!! Thanks @thesecretgardener 💚
On to another garden-crazy year!
Because hellebore… they come in all shapes and colors and have a growing fan base worldwide. Just use the hashtag #orientalhellebore on Instagram and you will see what I mean. Above is a selection of my own hellebore collection, including variants of oriental hellebore as well as a self-seeded stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus). The latter is proof that my seeds for these are indeed viable, it just took a whole 4 years . Hellebore flowers are bee-loved by pollinators and provide an early nectar source. So they do not only look nice but also serve an important purpose in the garden.
I spent the last two weeks of March in our garden in Dresden, preparing for this year’s gardening season. Every day (when weather permitted) I set for myself and fulfilled small goals, which included:
- removing the winter covering from the flower beds
- removing dead plants and faded plant parts
- preparing the flower beds, removing weeds
- pruning the roses
- preparing new planting pots
- turning the compost and straining the lower half
- planting out black hollyhocks sown in 2018
- sowing various herbs and flowers in the bed
- sowing various herbs and flowers indoors for planting in June
Earlier in March I had already sown the following:
The camellia in Pillnitz is around 230 years old and is considered the oldest camellia north of the Alps. It is almost 9 m high and 11 m in diameter. From February to April it is covered in carmine red flowers. During the cold season, the tree, which was planted at this place by court gardener Terscheck in 1801, is protected by a large glass house with stairs. During this time visitors can enter and view the tree from two levels.
In the mid 19th century Dresden became a European hot spot for the culture and breeding of camellias, and exported them to Russia as well as Italy and Spain. The camellia was viewed as a status symbol among European aristocrats, and Russians in particular, had a high demand for camellia flowers, which were exported in thousands to St. Petersburg and Moscow.
With growing popularity among Westerners, and contrary to its Far Eastern symbolism, the meaning of the camellia flower changed. Thanks to popular literature, most prominently La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas from 1848, as well as real life personae, such as the “Wiener Cameliendame”, a dancer named Fanny Elßler, the camellia became erotizised!
On the other hand the longevity of the flowers, and particularly white camellia flowers, became associated with death and mourning and were woven into funeral wreaths.
The seeds of all known (about 200) camellia seeds yield a valuable oil, which smoothes the hair and juvenates the skin. The oil is rich in linolenic acid, and is also used in cooking and reduces cholesterine. Samurai rubbed camellia oil unto their sword blades to protect them from rust. The oil is also used as a natural surface finish for wood, as lube in watches and precision engineering and more.
Camellia wood is hard and durable and was used in the manufacture of weapons, different tools as well as kokeshi dolls. Up to the Edo period, a camellia rod was used in Buddhist ceremony to punish and drive out malign spirits. The wood also yielded a spark-free and, hence sought after charcoal.
Camellias are highly resistant against diseases and may contain different antibacterial and fungicidal agents.
Besides, the first Westerner to portrait a camellia flower was likely a Saxon gardener by the name George Meister. His book “Der Orientalisch-Indianische Kunst- und Lust-Gärtner” was published in 1692 in Dresden. In it he describes both the camellia as well as its crop plant, Camellia sinensis var. sinensis – the tea shrub!
The camellia in Pillnitz is around 230 years old, almost 9 m high and 11 m in diameter. From February to April it is covered in carmin red flowers. During the cold season, the tree, which was planted in 1801 by court gardener Terscheck, is
protected by a large glass house with stairs. During this time visitors can enter and view the tree from two levels.
In the mid 19th century Dresden became a European hot spot for the culture and breeding of camellias, and exported them to Russia as well as Italy and Spain. The camelia was viewed as a status symbol among European aristocrats, and Russians in particular, had a high demand for camellia flowers, which were exported in thousands to St. Petersburg and Moscow.
With growing popularity among Westerners, and contrary to its Far Eastern symbolism, the meaning of the flower changed. Thanks to popular literature, most…
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In the past botanists such as Nicholas Culpeper associated plants with the planets, fixed stars and zodiac signs. The attributions were based on an intense study of a plant’s features, which included treats such as a thorny or prickly appearance, the scent emitted by the flowers or the entire plant, the plant’s life cycle, colors, metals contained in a plant, medicinal and other uses and of course plenty of folklore. Today plants are classified scientifically based on their genome, but their planetary lore is preserved and continues to evolve in the books of authors such as Stephen Skinner, Paul Huson, Scott Cunningham, Harold Roth and so on.
I find it fun and inspiring to continue this tradition and to explore its own inner logic. Hence I am listing here examples of plants, that I am working with, many of which are also part of my seed boxes.
(planetary rulers ordered according to the Chaldean sequence, photos by myself)
Aconite + Asafoetida + Belladonna + Bistort + Bittersweet Nightshade (also Mercury) + Black Nightshade + Bluebell + Comfrey + Columbine (also Venus) + Cypress + Dodder + Foxglove (also Venus) + Fumitory + Hellebore + Hemp + Henbane + Ivy + Lady’s slipper orchid + Mandrake (also Mercury) + Mullein + Poison Hemlock + Poplar + Scullcap + Solomon’s Seal + Spurge (also Mars) + Yew
Characteristics: borders, hexing & binding, banishing, addressing “elders”, death spells; poisonous plants, plants that thrive in shade or along borders or on poor ground, plants with unpleasant odors; plants that effect the excretory system, cooling plants, plants that effect the bones and aging processes, anticarcinogenic plants
Agrimony + Anise + Avens + Borage + Cinquefoil + Dandelion + Fig + Honeysuckle + Houseleek + Hyssop + Linden + Liverwort + Lungwort + Meadowsweet + Sage + Thyme + Valerian + Walnut + Wood Betony
Characteristics: generosity, religiousness, law and authority, purification; large plants, nutritious plants, plants that effect the liver, digestive system and blood vessels, appetizing plants
Asafoetida + Basil + Blackthorn + Bloodroot + Bryony + Broom + Cactus + Carrot + Chili Pepper + Coriander + Dragon tree + Garlic + Gentian + Gorse + Hawthorn + High John the Conqueror + Holly + Houndstongue + Leek + Maguey + Masterwort + Mustard + Nettle + Onion + Oregano + Pennyroyal + Pepper + Pine + Radish + Rue + Snapdragon + Spurge + Sweet Woodruff + Thistle + Thornapple + Toadflax + Tobacco + Wormwood + Yucca
Characteristics: protection, attack and revenge, domination, vigor, vitality; plants with thorns and prickly surfaces that may be irritating to the skin, herbs and roots with a strong spicy aroma, warming plants, plants that strengthen the immune system, plants that effect the muscles and tendons, plants that enhance sex drive and potency, blood-purifying plants
Angelica (also Venus) + Ash + Calamus + Carnation + Cedar + Celandine + Centaury + Cinnamon + Cowslip + Eyebright + Goldenseal + Heliotrope + Hibiscus + Hops + Juniper + Laurel + Lemon + Lovage + Marigold + Marshmallow (also Venus) + Mistletoe + Oak + Olibanum + Olive + Orange + Palm + Peony + Rosemary (also Mercury) + Rowan + Rue (also Mars) + Saffron + St. John’s Wort + Sunflower + Tagetes + Viper’s Bugloss + Yauthli
Characteristics: centering, wealth, general protection; plants effecting the heart and circulatory system, tonics, warming and calming plants, antidepressant plants, plants that effect the spine, plants that ease symptoms arising from photo-toxic reactions, skin protectants, plants that effect eye sight; flowers that resemble the sun in shape and color, plants with a citrus- or orange-like scent
Almond + Birch + Catnip + Cherry + Cornflower + Columbine (also Saturn) + Cowslip + Crocus + Elder + Feverfew + Foxglove (also Saturn) + Geranium + Goldenrod + Heather + Iris + Lady’s Mantle + Larkspur + Lemon Balm (also Moon) + Lilac + Marshmallow + Myrtle + Plantain + Pansy + Rose + Self-heal + Tansy + Vanilla + Vervain + Violet + Yarrow
Characteristics: love and money spells, protection from martial spells, harmony, balancing; aphrodisiacs, plants effecting the kidneys and urinary system, astringent plants, plants that have effects on the genital tract, plants that aid wound healing and skin lesions, plants with large flowers and velvety leaves, plants with overwhelmingly sweet scents
Bittersweet (also Saturn) + Caraway + Chervil + Clary Sage (also Moon) + Clover + Dill + Elecampane + Fennel + Fern + Lavender + Lemongrass + Lily of the Valley + Mandrake (also Saturn) + Marjoram + Mint + Parsley + Pimpernel + Summer Savory
Characteristics: knowledge, travel, communication, divination, psychopomps, trickery; plants effecting the nervous (nervine) and respiratory system, plants with feathery leaves, herbs with intense but short lasting scents, inconspicuous herbs, multicolored herbs, plants with umbels
Aloe + Cabbage + Chamomile + Clary Sage + Evening Primrose + Field Penny-Cress + Honesty (Lunaria) + Jasmine + Lemon Balm (also Venus) + Lettuce + Lily + Loosestrife + Mallow + Mugwort + Passion Flower + Poppy + Willow
Characteristics: dreams, clairvoyance; plants that are calming, relaxing and cooling, plants that aid sleep, narcotic and anodyne plants, plants that effect the hormone and lymphatic system, plants with a high water content, flowers with a mild sweet or camphorous scent, plants with flowers that open at night
(to be continued)
-> You know of a other useful websites or books related to the topic of plant astrology? Please add it in the comments below! 🙂