As Mother Nature is beginning to stir I am thinking about planting seeds and looking at any re-designing that is needed for our garden. If you don’t have any plan or are looking at creating your own garden this year, I would like to share an excerpt from my latest book Kitchen Witchcraft: Garden Magic in the hope that it might help…
Garden Magic: In the beginning
You may already have a garden in place or at least the basics or you may be starting from scratch. Your first plan of action is to assess it. What type of soil do you have? This will affect the sort of plants you can grow in the ground. What direction does it face, and do you have shady or sunny spots? Plants have requirements, not everything likes full sun and not everything will survive under the shade of a tree or in a windy spot. Take a look around and work out what spaces you have and what conditions they provide for your plants.
What temperature zone do you live in? Some plants won’t like the cold and some won’t survive if a frost hits. What is your average rainfall? Not all plants like soggy feet. If you get stuck your local nursery/garden centre will be able to advise you.
What access do you need to your garden? Don’t block the gates or pathways with flower beds.
What views do you have? Don’t block out pretty landscapes, borrow them. If your neighbour has tall trees or hedges use these as a frame or backdrop for your garden. However, if your garden backs onto a commercial warehouse or ugly building you might want to think about plants that will grow upwards to hide it.
Think about how much time you have to tend to the garden. If your time is limited, you may not want to fill it with annuals or vegetables that need a lot of attention. Perennials and shrubs would be better for you.
Don’t forget to check the height and spread that a plant is supposed to grow to. And don’t always trust the information. We planted a photinia shrub many years ago. The details said it would only grow to a maximum of 6 feet. We didn’t prune it much and eventually it reached the height of about 25 feet.
If you want space to sit in the garden, work in room for chairs and even a small table.
Be careful when digging, you don’t want to hit gas or water pipes with your shovel.
If you have the space, you may also want to work in room for a small ritual circle or fire pit. Even a small garden may have a little room for an outdoor altar or shrine.
Plan it all out on paper first, cut out clippings from magazines of plants or designs that you like and research for ideas on the internet or in the library. Visit local open gardens, even large stately home gardens can be an inspiration for the smaller garden.
If you have the room for a compost bin it is worthwhile. We have one the size of a trash can/dustbin and all the vegetable peelings, egg shells and old newspapers get chucked in. There is a whole complicated science around compost and ideally in a large garden you would have two or three compost heaps that you rotate, turn and move regularly. In reality most of us only have room for a single small one, but it still works effectively it just takes a bit longer.
Flow of magic in a garden spaceWhen I was talking about this book one of my lovely friends suggested I write about the ‘flow of magic in a garden space’, so I will. Have you been in some gardens that immediately feel magical? Or a garden that makes you feel relaxed and peaceful as soon as you step through the gate? That is when the flow of magic has been created perfectly. Occasionally it happens by accident but usually it is the result of lots of careful planning and hard work.
The style of your garden will reflect you and your personality and will probably evolve and change over time. Getting the balance in a garden can be tricky and often involves moving things around until if feels right.
Think about the atmosphere you want in your garden. If you would like it to be peaceful then you may want to keep to a colour palette of cool blues, whites and pinks. A big ole orange flower bed in your face doesn’t perhaps convey calm and serenity. But bright colours might suit you better, trust your intuition and what works for you.
Design will also be a key factor. Even in my own small garden we still try to create some ‘secret’ areas and paths that invite you to walk down them. I like a garden to draw you in so that you have to investigate to find things, but go with what works for you.
You will know whether you have the flow of magic right or not and if you don’t keep tweaking until you do.
Kitchen Witchcraft: Garden Magic by Rachel Patterson
Available from all good stockists.
Publication 30th November 2018
It doesn’t matter if you only have a window sill with a pot plant on it, a small city terrace, a playing field or several acres, you can always work with the magic in your garden. I think the kitchen extends into the garden anyway so a Kitchen Witch will often be found pottering around in amongst the plants.
Kitchen Witchcraft: Garden Magic is the second in a series of books which delves into the world of the Kitchen Witch. Each book breaks down the whys and wherefores of the subject and includes practical guides and exercises.