Tag Archives: spring flowers

Officially Spring Now

The buffet is opened: Today came to visit the first bees! Still a bit slow and clumsy from the cold, but so nice to see them back in our garden!

Earlier this week, I went to my old childhood playground and gathered willow catkins. My mom dug out these old painted wooden Easter eggs and little beetles. In 2 weeks I will be moving. It is hard for me to imagine, but something in me is determined to discover and live in a new place.

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Winter Returned

Today winter returned once more. The temps went below zero again, but this time the cold was accompanied by snowfall, covering the garden in white. A field fare (Turdus pilaris) – first time for me to see this bird – spends the late winter here, thriving on rose hips and left over fruits. Snowdrops are living up to their name and a spiderweb swaying in the wind, portentously catches snowflakes… the time for winter’s magic isn’t over just yet.

2018

March 07, 2018

After several weeks of drought and freezing cold, low “Wiebke” first brought rain and then snow, which lasted for a day and brought much needed precipitation. Within a few hours the white blanket was gone again and spring took over the next day. Winter slumber is definitely over! Alas, most early flowering plants had already blossomed at the end of an unusually warm January, and where then surprised by the Siberian cold that lasted throughout the month of February. In the end I ran around the garden with a watering can, carrying and pouring gallons of water from the rain barrel in our basement. Meanwhile we missed to empty the second rain barrel left outdoors and of course it burst when the water in it froze completely. To do: buy new rain barrel!

Now, there is still a bit of work to do with preparing the garden. And god, I am going to miss this view…

March 09, 2018

Meanwhile, I have been dedicating time almost every day to processing last year’s herb harvest, sorting seeds and also began filling the next seed boxes! As of yet, I am done with about 1/3 of the contents. This year I am not doing it all at once, but little by little, working on the boxes parallel with other creations.

I plan to finish processing and packing up all the remaining herbs, seeds and wood until the end of the month. Hence my quietude here. I will be back with news and updates later in April. So long, I am already wishing you a blessed spring equinox and much joy with your own gardening endeavors!

Below some pics from my winter:

And the first flowers:

March 2017

Spring is here

Since some years, just before Lenten, I am spending a little fortune on oriental hellebores.¬†This year it had to be – among others – a filled purple-black variant. It is not as black as I had hoped, but still a lovely sight and very Gothic. The bees love it too, along with¬†crocuses and other early spring flowers. Out of a heap of soil left out on the meadow from last year‚Äôs construction work grow little snowdrops. Looks like this one will have to stay. I am thinking ‘herb spiral’…

Sowing Season

I have sown a couple of new plants, among others different species of henbane. I bought the seeds from a french seller on eBay, who shipped them at near speed of light and included  gift seeds of Datura discolor. I have sown them beginning of March, without priming. The Hyoscyamus niger var. agrestis seeds germinated within a week. The seeds for the rare Egyptian henbane (Hyoscyamus muticus) germinated after 2 weeks, as can be seen in the following pictures. I am really satisfied with the results.

The first round was sown on the 4th of March. I prepared another tray two weeks later, with dream herb, sinicuichi and primed moon vine. Further I primed seeds of mandrake, morning glory, white henbane and datura, which were sown 25th of March.

Thus far only the Ipmoea alba germinated (it did so within 3 days after priming with 100% germination rate). But no sign of the daturas yet or the other herbs.

Now here are also the results from my 2016 winter solstice sowing:

The wormwood was the first that germinated, but now is going slow. The second photo shows what I hope to be a comfrey seedling. I would love to have it in the garden. Comfrey is easier to propagate via cuttings, but you know seed ->¬†genetic diversity… The third photo is of different henbane seedlings. It will show which of the¬†henbanes are annuals and which are biennials. I had sown a lot more but nothing happening thus far.

The garden awakens

From seed to root, from flower to fruit¬†‚Äď impressions of the plants in the garden, which is just getting started…

The greater celandine has sown out itself in a circle and now forms an auspicious ‚Äėfairy ring‚Äô. I am not sure yet, what to do with all of it. Tincture the entire circle? For the moment it just looks fancy.

The aconites return ‚Äď thankfully. I had lost half of them last year due to root rot. (Partly my mistake.) I was wondering though, why other plants grown in that corner would fade as well. I had grown wormwood there earlier. Wormwood emits substances into the soil that keep other plants from growing in its proximity. Could it be that these are still in the soil and effecting other herbs?¬†On the other hand it had a lot of rain and the ground was sopping. Aconite likes a moist ground but this may have been just too much.

The deadly nightshade now appears in places where I can’t remember to have planted it. Nice coincidence: on the above picture a single thin thread of spider web is attached to the plant, which is named after the Greek Atropos. (Atropos was one of the three fates and in charge of severing the thread of life.)

Last year I planted a small Aconitum hemsleyanum, which I had grown from seed and kept in the pot for too long. It was on the brink (pot left outdoors during ceaseless rain).

Far from tender is the masterwort. In the raised bed it found the perfect spot, ready to conquer all. I don’t mind, its root is a powerful magical and medicinal agent.

Closing this round, the lovely lovage is working its way through the ground elder. Lovage does not like competition. I will have to help here¬†‚Äď which means, it¬†will be another year trying to dig up and decimate the obnoxious ¬†ground elder.

New Seed Boxes

This month I also got to work on the next row of wooden seed boxes (numbers 31-36). I received such a wonderful feedback last time and more emails. I have been working on them non-stop for the past weeks and they are near completion. Emails will be sent out to those that reserved one and then it’s first come first serve… Meanwhile here are¬†the last four sold and shipped earlier in March:

Useful

Herbs to sow in March:¬†agrimony, bittersweet nightshade, chamomile, columbine, evening primrose, henbane, mandrake, monkshood, poppy, thorn-apple (pre-culture), tobacco, viper’s bugloss, wood betony

Herbs to sow in April: agrimony, black cumin, borage, caraway, catnip, chervil, clary sage, columbine, elecampagne, enchanter’s nightshade, evening primrose, fennel, henbane, lemon balm, lovage, mandrake, marigold, marshmallow, moon vine, morning glory, motherwort, mugwort, poison hemlock, poppy, purple coneflower, rosemary, rue, sage, tobacco, tansy, thyme, valerian, wood betony, wormwood, yarrow

Links: plantacasa (Hellebores), Odysseé Naturelle (seeds)

 

Columbines

These lovely columbines have sown out themselves in our front yard and I’m now giving away seeds for each:

From upper left to lower right: Aquilegia “Bordeaux Barlow” with filled flowers, Aquilegia vulgaris with white-pink , pink and blue¬†“petticoat” shaped flowers. The petticoat probably comes from cross-pollination with¬†common columbines.¬†The flower heads have a compact, tighter form than those of common columbine. I love them all and am happy for the bees and wind to have brought them here.

Pricing for seeds: 2 Euro per bag with 50 seeds and 3 Euro for a mixed bag with 200 seeds from all four. Shipping in Germany is 0,70 Euro and 1,50 Euro for shipping worldwide.

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 ‚Äúblack flower‚ÄĚ 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.

Snowdrops and Snowflakes

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snowflakes blooming at the meteorological beginning of spring

Two early flowering plants in the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), the common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) opens its flowers just a few weeks earlier than the spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum). Both carry white, bell-shaped flower heads, sporting a green or a yellow spot on each sepal. Both do also contain poisonous alkaloids, that are a natural self-defense against pests and animals. The same alkaloids are also found in plants of the Narcissus genus.

The flowers of the spring snowflake typically appear after the snow melts, usually in late February and beginning of March. They¬†are shaped like a cup, which gave them the name¬†M√§rzenbecher in German, literally meaning “March goblets”. The Latin name Leucojum consists of the Greek word leucos for “white” (a bright,¬†shiny white) and ion for “violet”. The flowers emit a sweet fragrance. The epithet vernum comes from the Latin word¬†for¬†“spring”. Other names are snowbell, dewdrop and St. Agnes flower.

The flowers of the snowdrop open in early February, often as early as Candlemass. They are more tender and when still closed, resemble a tear drop or look like a popular type of earring, ¬†called Schneetropfen in German. The¬†English flower name¬†snowdrop is thought to be a direct translation. The name Galanthus derives from the Greek words gala for “milk” and anthos for “flower”, whereas the Latin epithet¬†nivalis¬†means “of the snow” or “snow-covered”.

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snowdrops found in a sink, at the edge of a small forest

For some reason the snowdrop features more prominently in folklore and is now¬†the flower associated with February, Candlemas cleansing rituals and¬†the virgin¬†Mary.¬†I have blogged about this earlier. Interestingly, it seems to be¬†missing in medieval scripture and early Christian paintings. Therefore,¬†the snowflake is to be found on a¬†painting of¬†the¬†Paradise Garden from the early 15th century. Here it is placed¬†next¬†to¬†the infant Jesus and below the hem¬†of Mary’s blue dress:

Paradiesgärtlein, ca. 1410-20,  unknown artist, Städel Museum, Frankfurt a. M.

I found this painting thanks to the Met Museum’s garden blog and include it here, as it features many interesting flowers… Another fragrant, white flowering plant portrayed there is the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). It is a distant relative of the former and flowers much later, in May. Though¬†named after the¬†biblical “lily of the valleys”, it is uncertain which plant is originally¬†referred to in the Song of Songs.

The spring snowflake is found spreading across¬†river valleys and forest glades, taking advantage of the early spring sun and blooming when the trees are still leafless. I remember the sight of¬†snowflake-covered meadows in the Polenztal, Saxon Switzerland: shiny¬†white flower-cups and droplets from melting snow, reflecting¬†the light of the spring sun; in the distance¬†the sound of the bickering brook…

It is not surprising, the white flowers of early flowering plants would become symbols of purity and holiness. But there are also darker aspects connected to each of them, some of which I’m currently researching in context with a new incense formula. More about this later…

References:

Springs Snowflakes, by ferrebeekeeper + Snowdrop and Snowflake , at metmuseum.org +