The June Garden

Variegated woodland nightshade

I haven’t been posting because I’ve been working on orders and trying to get the garden sorted out, but I hope to remedy that. I got most of the rest of the seedlings potted up this past week, but I still have much to do, including seeding all the bush beans and cukes. Yes, I am behind as usual, although probably not as far behind as I normally am this time of year. No matter how much I plan, the rush of spring always blindsides me. And I have to admit I got a bit discouraged after the hail and gale-force winds followed by unseasonable heat smashed a number of my plants, but since we are forecast to have similar hail and gale-force winds this afternoon, I thought I better take some pictures while my plants were still alive and out there. So here’s a little garden tour.

To the left is my single variegated woodland nightshade plant, which surprisingly made it through last season, when it arrived my garden covered with spider mites. It made one or two berries, but I left them alone. I didn’t have much hope for it making it through the winter, but it did, so now I do not feel insane to hope that this year I can get a few seeds and that those seeds will produce variegated plants. Not sure about that. This might be the kind of thing that has to be propagated vegetatively (by cuttings) to preserve the variegation, but I will find out.

The Scullery Maid has pics of a very hefty clary sage. Mine are retiring in comparison. One thing I love about this plant, though, are the wrinkled leaves, which remind me of the skin on the back of the hand of an elder. I have several clary sages with white bracts I hope to collect seed from–these reseeded from my single white clary sage last year–and then one of the more traditional violet bract types that just decided to grow where it was. For some reason the white variety is known as “Vatican White,” to which I can only reply, “Why?” But what the hey, you cannot keep a great plant down with a silly name. I highly recommend clary sage to any witch or mage who would like to investigate dreaming as a magical and spiritual tool and who would like to use a plant to help in that. Clary sage is a pleasant and non-toxic dream enhancer with none of the exoticism of stuff like diviner’s sage, but it’s a lot easier to grow and to my mind, far more subtle. Tincture the flowering tops in brandy and then try a tablespoon in a small wineglass of warm water before retiring. Interesting.:) Do watch out for it in combination with alcohol, though, as it potentiates alcohol’s more noxious effects greatly. Remember, it predates hops as a beer additive.

The feverfew looks so nice in this, its second year, that I wish I had planted it out front to impress the witch-hating (and maybe world-hating) kook across the street, whom I suspect has been coming over under cover of darkness to pour who-knows-what over my plants. The tiny daisy like flowers are very cheerful, and altogether this is a neat plant with little visible predation by bugs. I grew it to collect the seeds and also just to see it in its full glory in person. It’s a favorite for migraine sufferers and is good for rheumatism and general inflammation. Unlike many herbs, it is usually used fresh. Pulp fresh leaves 1:5 with brandy, macerating for a week for a tincture. Fresh leaves are also good as a poultice on aching muscles.


Not far from the feverfew is the Scandhoovian jostaberry that I just put in this spring. It looks like it’s settling in nicely with its companions, barely visible, a good-sized stand of motherwort, which I found growing back there when I moved in and which I have encouraged in the manner of the people who originally lived here–simply by weeding around them and giving them a more favorable aspect. They have repaid this small attention by greatly expanding their territory and becoming much more healthy. This year I expect to collect seed from them instead of buying in motherwort seed.

Blood-Drop Emlets, not very bloody

One of the most cheerful plants that have grown for me this year is Mimulus luteus ala blood-drop emlets. This is a Chilean flower that became popular in British gardens many years ago. Because I neglected it, it did not reproduce is sufficient quantities to make seed harvest a viable enterprise last year. I left the plants to themselves, and they reseeded like crazy. The flowers, as you can see, do not sport the nice big blood drops, only a tiny spray of blood mist, but they are handsome nevertheless, with nice-sized golden yellow snapdragony sort of  flowers and thick leaves. These very healthy looking plants are favored by bees.

Last but by no means least in the back is the return of the Black Toad, which got mad at me for ripping out all its comrades last year after my unpleasant experience with its berries and with just how obnoxiously it was colonizing the entire back yard.  I started more seeds this spring, but not a one of them germinated. I bought new stock but haven’t had time to plant them. I also didn’t have time to plant the leafy greens in the shade plot. By the time I got around to looking it over again, the Black Toad had decided to put in an appearance there all along the path that I made for myself at the very beginning of the season. I think there is something nicely metaphorical about Black Toad growing along the path of my shade plot, no? I thanked the plant’s spirit for deigning to return after such rude treatment, and I very much look forward to trying once again to work with this plant.

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