Basket in hand she slowly walks down the cobbled pathway of her witches garden. Her bare feet make not a sound as she wends her way through herbs and flowers. Humming a happy tune, she looks right and then left, studying the plants that line the path. Adjusting her broad-brimmed hat she peers down at a lush green Mugwort plant. Reaching into her basket she pulls out a sharp, white handled knife. Skillfully, she makes several cuts to the plant stems and then places the cuttings into her basket. Bowing her head towards the Mugwort, she thanks it for its sacrifice. She pulls an offering of fertilizer out of the voluminous pocket of her garden apron. Sprinkling it around the plant she bows again in thanks. Smiling, she turns and continues down the path, scanning her charges to see who else may be ready for harvest.
This is a glimpse of the iconic Witches Garden, a garden that seems a dream to the majority of us. However, a witches garden doesn’t need to be located on a huge plot of land or even in a country setting. Your garden can be on a balcony in the city, a patio in an urban area, or in raised beds in your suburban back yard.
Planning Your Witches Garden
In this the first installment of The Witches Garden, we will discuss how to plan and create your own magickal oasis no matter where that may be. To begin, let’s discuss the types of plants you may wish to include. Please note: When in doubt about a plant and its ability to grow in your area, check with your professionals at your local garden center.
In order to decide what I would like to add into my witches garden I think of the herbs and flowers that I use most in my magick. For me these include:
Next, I will make a list of culinary herbs that double as magickal herbs as well. My favorites are:
Already we have quite an extensive list going. If you have limited space you may have to pare your list down to accommodate the planting area.
Next, check to make sure that a) the plant will grow in your area; b) if the plant will grow best in containers and/or in the ground and; c) how much sun each plant requires during the day (Full sun, part sun/part shade, full shade). You will have to spend some time watching your intended garden plot to see when the sun hits each area. Full sun plants require 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Part sun/part shade plants will need 3 to 6 hours of sun. Full shade plants will require less than 3 hours of sun per day. Plan accordingly!
Once you have determined which plants will grow in your area, the proper amount of sun required, and how they need to be planted, we can move on to the next step. Here, we determine whether or not we are going to purchase our plants ready to transplant or if we will start them from seed.
Giving Your Witches Garden a Good Start
Making the decision to begin your garden with transplants or seeds depends on a few factors: 1) Cost- Plants at the nursery tend to be more expensive than starting plants from seeds; 2) Some plants like Tarragon, cannot be started from seeds. A quick Google search can show you how best to start your plants, and; 3) The amount of time you are willing to invest in starting your garden – Starting from seeds takes considerably more time.
Personally, I like to use a combination. I tend to start with purchased plants for my tomatoes and other veggies because I tend to have better luck than I do starting them from seed. Most of my herbs and flowers are all started from seeds, bought from my favorite on-line vendors.
I would suggest using organic seeds and plants, especially if you are going to be harvesting them for food or medicinal purposes. While I prefer that my magickal plants be organic as well, they are not always easy to find. Rule of thumb – if you are ingesting it, keep it organic. Otherwise standard plants or seeds will work.
Making Your Witches Garden a Success
Our planning is nearly complete. All that remains is laying out our Witches Garden. Take a few minutes to sketch out the area that you have available (you don’t need to be an artist to do this – Goddess knows I’m not). Take notes as to the amount of sun in the area and whether or not the plants are going into the ground or containers. Jot down the square footage (see here for instructions on how to determine this measurement), for either the in-ground or container area. Once you know how much space is available you will have an idea of how many plants you can grow and/or how many containers (pots, raised beds), you can place in your new garden area.
Careful planning of your garden may seem like an awful lot of effort, but the time you take now will determine how successful of a start all of your plants will have. As in all of Witchcraft and magick, prep is key! Take the time to get things organized and started right and I believe, green thumb or no, you will have a successful garden that you can take pride in. Happy Planning!
Next Week: The Witches Garden: Part Two – Planting