Tag Archives: garden work

June 2017

Half time: half of the year is over, half of this heap of soil has been sieved and used for the new flower beds

Summer Solstice and St. John’s, 2017

My ritual for the summer solstice took place on Wednesday morning, at 6:24 am, the time of the astronomical beginning of the summer. As the sun rose, opened also the first poppies, as if they had an inner clock set. Together with the singing of birds and buzzing of early bees frequenting the poppy flowers, I greeted the arrival of the hot season. With the smoke of the incense composed for this occasion, I blessed the new herb patches. A common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) that I had already seen a couple of times in the garden, came really close now as if to inspect my doing.

Poppies opening on the morning of the Summer Solstice 2017, bees going wild

I spent the rest of the day planting henbanes and datura into the newly made bed. The following days I harvested different herbs and roots during auspicious hours, and dug up more ground to open up even more space for the herb patches, which by now feels much like a never-ending project. I was often working until dusk, but I would be in magical company…

Incense burnt for the summer solstice, on the morning of the 21st of June 2017

Since the summer solstice there are little fireflies dancing around our garden at dusk. Their literal heyday happens to fall between the summer solstice and Eve of St. John (24th of June), which is why they are also known as “Johanniswürmchen” in German. It is the night, when the males can bee seen “dancing” in the air in search for a female. The male fireflies are now in their last incarnation, during which they only drink water and sustain themselves from reserves gathered during previous chrysalis stages. The females in turn are not able to fly and thus attract the males by emitting light. From this may stem the English name “glow worms”. There are many different light emitting bugs to be found all across the world. But in my location the males of Lamprohiza splendidula are the only males also capable of emitting light. The males of other firefly species in my area do not emit any light. Hence it is 100% the males of Lamprohiza splendidula when seeing fireflies dancing in the air where I live. When the males have spotted a partner they descend vertically unto the female for copulation and die shortly after. I guess that’s what you call “getting laid”! Now, before you accuse me of disturbing them in their most intimate moment; I found them on our basement steps and first did not realize that it was two mating fireflies. I wanted to secure it but also was curious which species it had here and hence took this photo and then relocated the pair to a nearby flower patch. Hoping for a new and larger generation of fireflies to frequent our garden soon!

Johanniswürmchen (Lamprohbeginning of summerza splendidula) bei der Paarung, Juni 2017

The garden month of June

When the moon is waning, early in the morning, at the dawn of the Day of Saturn, encircle with an iron tool three times the black hellebore’s root, dig it up protecting your hands, cut it in two, keep the larger half and put the smaller one back into the soil.

Hellebrous niger root, harvested when the moon is dark, at the dawn of the day of Saturn

When the moon is dark, in the middle of the night of Venus and hour of Saturn, light two beeswax candles, one to the left and one to the right of the Valerian. Carefully remove some parts from the roots, which are spreading into all directions. Save a few cuttings for planting new patches of Valerian and keep the rest for drying.

Valerian root, harvested during dark of the moon, in the middle of the night of Venus/hour of Saturn

I have been growing rue in pots for years, always moving it indoors during the cold season. Now was the first time I planted one outdoors. And it gave a sorry sight after the long winter… All the more excited am I to see this very same rue plant flowering and prospering! This little bumblebee joined me.

Bumblebee on flowering rue plant, June 2017

The annual buzz concerto has returned – bumblebees of all size and couleur are busy frequenting the lush flowers of the white and purple flowering foxgloves. As they enter the flower their buzzing sound is amplified.

Bumblebee entering foxglove flower, June 2017

I recently read somewhere that monkshood and foxglove would not get along beside each other. I cannot confirm this…

Shade garden: foxglove and monkshood growing beside another, June 2017

Every year I am enchanted by the sight of the ghostly white flowers of the Northern wolfsbane (Aconitum lycoctonum). It is the first of the aconites to flower and set seed.

Ever haunting, the ghostly white flowers of Aconitum lycoctonum, June 2017

Perfect match: the flowers of blue monkshood are adopted to the physiognomy of bumblebees, the only insects able to enter the flowers…

Blue Haven: large earth bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) on blue monkshood (Aconitum napellus)

This month came also – finally – some rain showers. Though compared to the rest of Germany and previous years, we really had the lowest amount of rain in a long time. I remember our drenched meadow from previous years, June would always be rainy. Not so this year. There were a few short thunderstorms, and relatively soft rains, with maybe 1 exception. In the face of a near blackened sky I spent one afternoon making the garden save for the announced storm, one could hear rolling thunder in the distance… and in the distance it would stay. Our rain barrels ended up only half filled.

Poppy flower after the rain, June 2017

I had sown black, white and purple poppies as well as a mix of seeds. I was really surprised though about the many different colors and shapes. Basically no flower would be like the other: it’s having purple to red, purple to black, black to red, white, white to purple, filled, simple, fringed and all of these combined!

Red corn poppy and fading purple opium poppy after a short rain shower, June 2017

By surprise, these red corn poppies appeared in the patch were I had sown various poppy variants, which were sown in rows and accurately labeled, hehe. These must have been part of the seed mix gifted by one seller. I sure don’t mind…

The first poppies to flower here were the red corn poppies, June 2017

The bees, bumblebees and other pollinators are frequenting the poppies every day, as also new flowers open daily. The foxgloves, Northern wolfsbane and henbane are nearly done flowering. So are the shrubs, except for roses. Lavender has yet to start. So the poppies, rue etc. are a welcome food source.

“All mine you have to be…”, bee on poppy flower, summer solstice, June 2017

Hover flies mimicry the look of other, more dangerous insects to confuse predators. It seems to work also when in competition for newly opened flowers, such as this lovely dark colored poppy.

Hover fly on dark poppy flower, Summer Solstice 2017

Remember the bee approaching a poppy flower above? Here is the same flower, now frequented by a large earth bumblebee. Despite its size it would not dare to access before the bee had left.

Bumblebee on poppy flower, photographed on the morning of the summer solstice 2017

So much for them poppies. 10 days later and with the month ending, the last poppies are done flowering. In a few days from here the pods and seeds will be ripe for harvest. I will need them for my necrosophic incense of Qalmana as well as new qliphotic blends.

Preceding the summer solstice, I went to gather herbs for midsummer: mullein, viper’s bugloss, mugwort and yellow chamomile make up a lovely bouquet.

Midsummer Bouquet, June 2017

These and a number of other herbs associated with the summer time are also part of my summer solstice incense:

Incense blend for the summer solstice, June 2017

Last but not least, seeds sown this month: Hypericum perforatum var. ‘Tauberthal’ and some remaining Artemisia absinthium, scattered loosely into the bed.  St. John’s Wort sown on St. John’s Eve. 😉

And now for a coffee break… Enjoy your summer!

Garden Work Coffee Break, June 2017
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Beltane

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Beltane 2016

recreation, renewal, creative inspiration, changes

The sun is here and that means work! The garden and green house needed cleaning up, I have been weeding out and harvesting the first herbs. Here is my Beltane spent in the garden…

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The garden this evening. Say hello to my friends: mandrake, monkshood and foxglove.
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The year’s first herb harvest: lemon balm, fresher than fresh and very aromatic!
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More poisonous friends: the northern wolfsbane, monkshood and belladonna are growing fast now. Belladonna caught a virus (you see the leaves start rolling), but adopts quickly.
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It’s having more space for the monkshood and it likes it.
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And now for a nightmare: any gardener with that plant in their yard will sooner or later despair. It’s thanks to the Romans that it now grows in abundance just about anywhere it finds favorable conditions. Mowing the lawn is one way to prevent it from taking over. Therefore it grows in the shadiest corner and loves hedges, where it’s especially tricky to remove. Today I did just that: weeding out the ground elder from the hedges that surround my little poison bed. I removed quite a few long roots, which was an arduous task. I know I didn’t catch all of them and it’s going to come back. But not as strong as before. And having repeated this a couple of times it will eventually be gone for good. At least in that spot.
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The new babies arrived this week!
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Old and new mandrake plants. Moved from the basement to the green house and need to recover a bit. They didn’t like the winter indoors. The only reason I don’t want to plant them to the ground are snails, which eat the leaves as if it was salad.
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Lilac is going to flower soon!
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Slate black Hellebore: There shall be seeds!
Queen of the night
Queen of the night tulips are almost black. The flowers are a very dark matte purple and they are perfect for a “black flower” theme garden.
Tulips, Roses
Tulips and roses in our front yard… I need to find free time to sort through this maze of tulip and hyacinth bulbs!
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Old planting pots left outdoors, things start happening…
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Just in time for may day: lily of the valley has started showing up! I planted these end of February.
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Our apple-tree just started flowering. As past year I will again collect a bunch for my Qalmana incense and a new, Beltane dream inspired blend…
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April in the garden: for a few days our meadow is abloom with cuckoo flowers
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The white blossoms of our old cherry tree
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Flowers of almond, cherry and Cardamine pratensis
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Feeding the compost!
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It’s also the time when the ferns unfurl their fronds…
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Useful wild herbs: wood avens (Geum urbanum) and greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), both herbs with healing properties and both yellow flowering. These established themselves and I let them grow, giving the ground a break, so it can return to balance after it was full packed with various nightshades in the past years.
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And yet another wild herb in the garden, also with yellow flowers: lesser celandine (Ficaria verna). The herb is poisonous (as it’s a member in the buttercup family), but the young leaves were once consumed to prevent scurvy, as they are rich in vitamin C. Though recently this has been suggested for Cochlearia officinalis.