Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The War Over Fairydom

On some of the islands off the coast of Maine, a war is raging. And it has been going on for quite some time. Decades in fact.

It is a clash between the Fairies or rather Fairy Sympathizers and the 'real world' Witches. For you see, the Witches believe that the Fairy Sympathizers are destroying the fragile eco-system of the islands to create little homes, little worlds for the Fairies. Bark and small branches may be stripped from a tree or moss may be moved to create the Worlds the Fairy Sympathizers envision in their minds.

Should enough of this occur, then the disaster of which the Witches foretell would come to pass. But the building of these Fairy Gardens, these Fairy Worlds, is kept to a minimum (and local building codes obeyed) and pose no real threat to the local forests.

In fact the moss which is so often used to create these little Fairy Worlds thrives on traffic - animal, human or other-worldly - to spread it. It can take hold anywhere there is a bald spot beneath the pine canopy. This particular kind of moss is Leucobryum glaucum or more commonly known as Pincushion Moss.

Pincushion Moss, on close examination, appears to have tiny little stems and even tinier leaves. It can commonly be found in pine forests and will give the appearance of being dead if conditions become too dry. But will quickly become green with the addition of moisture.

The magick Moss holds over Humans is universal and seems to have no age boundaries. So take heed on your next trip into the Woods! You may fall under a spell and find yourself wanting to create a small realm for the Fae Folk.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Glorious Moonflowers


Moonflowers are one of my favorites for the "Haunted Garden".

Blooming during the night, its large white blooms seem to illuminate the garden... beckoning you to come closer. They are splendid for enjoying evening relaxation. Planted near a deck or porch, its heavenly fragrance
permeates the air, adding to its appealing beauty. Relatively easy to grow depending on location. I plant mine in the ground growing on a trellis,
below the deck we have that is about 10 feet off the ground and in pots.
To get them started on the deck I attach strings to the railing to the ground below and they begin their climb to the top. They grow about 15' feet. For the best effect plant multiple seeds about 2" apart in a row in the location you want them to grow. By October ours are usually wrapped around the railing and we add orange lights right before they begin traveling across the railing for a splendid display by Halloween!

We begin by soaking our seeds over night in a damp paper towel to help with the germination. The seeds are best planted in warm soil so depending on where you live they are ready to plant from April to May. I've already started mine as we live in Zone 9 in the Ozarks so spring has arrived. If we have another frost I will keep them covered to protect the new seedlings. We accent our Moonflowers with orange Marigolds and Impatients.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Winter Aconite

Eranthis(Winter Aconite) is a member of the buttercup family. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Mine just showed up I didn't plant them. They are the first blooms I have here. I welcome them and the deer leave them alone! According to Greek myth Winter Aconite was thought of as the saliva of Cerberus. Cerberus is the three-headed dog that guards the underworld. He made a trip upstairs and where his saliva hit the ground up sprang Winter Aconite.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

American Mandrake

What self-respecting HAUNTED GARDEN wouldn't have MANDRAKE in it??

Here in the WildWoods, there are huge patches of American Mandrake. It is also known by the names Mayapple, Devil's Apple, or Indian Apple. It is a perennial native herb which grows in the moist, rich soils of woods, thickets, and pastures in Eastern North America - southern Maine to Florida and as far west as Texas and Minnesota. American Mandrake prefers deep shade and spreads by a creeping rhizome. It can be cultivated by sowing seeds in Autumn or transplanting seedlings in the Spring. 

The May Apple grows to a height of 18 inches with a stem that resembles an umbrella. The large, white blooms grow right in between the leaves and will appear in April to May. The fruit ripens in early summer and will be crab-apple size. 
American Mandrake is also known as the Witch's Umbrella and was thought to be employed by them as a poison. Which is not far from the truth as the roots of this plant are quite toxic!! I have not 'yanked' any of these plants from the ground to see if their screams are ear piercing or would render a person insane - like it's English Cousin.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sources For Boots & Sunglasses

I've gotten several inquiries as to where I found the skeleton & roses rainboots, and the coffin sunglasses.

I originally found the boots in another catalog, but now both items are available from The Pyramid Collection catalog.

I haven't received any sort of compensation or benefits from mentioning this company (although it would be nice! lol)

How Eye-Catching!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some boots that are perfect for Haunting Gardeners to wear while interacting with the botanical friends.

In the continued effort to keep all Haunting Gardeners looking their absolutely fetchingly best, I have once again found something that is a must for not only protecting those precious eyes while in the gardens, under the hot sun, but is superlatively perfect for touring poison gardens, or even to wear while having their picture taken in front of the poison garden gate.

Just think of how your beautiful eyes would look behind these transparent coffin shaped glasses,complete with embellishment!

Not to mention how beautiful the world will look through those rose colored lenses!

Enjoy your day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Let's Go On Some Field Trips!

Does everyone have their passports up to date? It is time for a field trip! And where do Haunting Gardeners go to learn more about the plants that are perfect for spooky gardens?

Why to England, and more specifically, the Alnwick Poison Garden, in Northumberland. Click on the link to see their site, and watch a short video!

This garden, which has been described as Gothic and Frightful, grows plants, as their guides will tell up upon entering for the tour, don't ingest, touch, or even smell them. They even have Mandrakes growing! (I wonder if Hogwarts supplied them with their specimens)

What a wonderful garden this would be to explore!

Too far to travel right now?  Well, how about Urbana, Illinois, at the University of Illinois?

They have over 90 species of toxic natives, landscaping and house plant species growing for your learning pleasure.

You live in the East? Then how about a visit to the Cornell Plantations Poison Plant Garden?  They have nearly 100 species that are in some way toxic to humans and animals.

All of these places would be fun and fascinating to visit, and to learn. And while we may embrace the spooky here, we also want everyone to be responsible gardeners. If you have children, or even neighorhood children that could easily get into your garden, or pets, you need to be a safe and savvy gardener.

We will be delving into herbals periodically, both those that were used safely, and, ahem, those that were not.  We are not endorsing that anyone plant these, but are sharing what we know to broaden everyone's knowledge of the plant world.  As as we learn more, we will find out just how powerful the plant world is!

And in the meantime, if anyone has a question about a plant, you can leave it in the comments, and one of us will either already know the answer, or will find it for you!

I'm off to pack my bags for dear old England! (In my dreams)

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Mazes are quite often a component in Horror movies (remember the Hedge Maze in Stephen King's The Shining ?) and are often associated with Castles and Medieval Europe. A fair amount of patience (and a good chuck of land) would be needed if a person wanted to construct a hedge Maze similar to those of days of yore.

Mazes have been around since the Middle Ages, if not longer. Many legends attribute the Minotaur of Greek mythology to living in a Maze while other accounts say it was a Labyrinth. (remember, Labyrinths have one path to the center while a Maze may have many paths, some of which are dead ends, leading to the center).

The Mazes of Medieval Europe were quite often constructed in gardens using hedges as the walls. As time passed, the Mazes became more difficult. These early Mazes are what is called, Simply-Connected Mazes. They are created from one continuous wall to the center. A person can solve the Maze by keeping one hand on this wall and heading toward the center, with numerous detours along the way, of course.

In the early 19th century, Maze design became more difficult. The center goal of the Maze was isolated by a wall of barriers, physically unconnected to the rest of the Maze. A person could not solve it by the 'hand-on' method. These Multiply-Connected Mazes can be developed into very intricate designs with very few dead-ends.

The next evolution of the Maze was the Three-Dimensional Maze. Most Mazes may appear to have three dimensions but in reality they have only two. The third dimension was added by including bridges and underpasses to the design. These types of Mazes have been around since the 19th century but have only become popular in the last 30 years. Many of the Corn Mazes that can be found around the country in the Autumn are three-dimensional Mazes.

The Conditional Movement Maze has also become a reality in the last 30 years. The next move of the participant is dictated by rules or instructions that pertain to the current position of the participant. These Mazes are quite intellectually challenging. (Kinda reminds me of a Freeway Mousetrap!)

And the latest in the evolution of the Maze is the Interactive Maze, quite often found at Amusement Parks. In these, the Maze will respond to the actions of the participants using motion sensors, timed barriers, and other mechanisms that provide a difficult journey to the goal.

To read more on Mazes, click here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Black Hollyhock

For Christmas a gardener friend of mine gave me Black Hollyhock seeds. Does she know me well or what? :)

I have planted Hollyhocks before, but never this black (actually dark purple) version before. That being the case I did a little research on them before I started the seeds for the garden.

The "Nigra" variant of Alcea rosea is as nearly black as any flower gets. It is an heirloom variety which Thomas Jefferson grew. The species is native to the Mediterranean region, & has been gardened throughout Europe since at least 1500. The black form was described in 1629 by John Parkinson as, "Of darke red like black blood."

It is an easily self-seeding biennial or short lived perennial which will live two to five years. It grows swiftly to an enormous height. The main plant is only a foot & a half, but the gigantic flower spikes are "small" at five feet, & frequently eight or ten feet tall!

The individual maroon-black flowers all over these spikes are two or three inches across. It blooms from May or June; deadheading extends bloom to summer's end.The flowers make excellent bouquets & are liked by butterflies, bees, & hummingbirds.

Toward autumn the basal foliage begins to look spotted & poor, hence is usually regarded as a back-border plant not only because of its extreme height, but because it is not "specimen worthy" as a center of attention, though splendid for ongoing bloom in the background.

It's other fault is the flower-weighted spikes are apt to fall over in hard weather so will either need staking or preferably to grow against a fence or barn wall. It should be cut to the ground early autumn when the final blooms go to seed.

Black Hollyhock requires a dryish light or poor soil in full sun area to do well, & where it will be low-maintenance. To get them started, seeds should be sewn in the summer. Rosettes of big hairy leaves will develop by autumn then die back before winter. It will bloom the following summer. And how it will bloom!

Sounds like the perfect plant for my yard. The soil in my area is not great, mostly clay, which requires me to bring in lots of mulch and compost every year to keep the soil health. Any plant that likes "poor soil" is welcome in my garden!

I will put the seeds in the garden shed until next month when I will start them in pots. Looking forward to this added contrasting color in my garden this summer.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I am going to make my own

one day, but if I came across a pile of money hiding under a rock somewhere, I would definitely buy a garden folly from Redwood Stone. They have several Gothic garden follies that would be perfect for the yard.

Would this folly not be perfect as part of a yard haunt? I would put a ghost effect in the window..either FCG or video effect....I wonder if I can convince husband to let me put this in the Halloween budget :D

I love the layout and how it looks like they have several different type of vines growning on it. As expensive as it is, it is the only way I am going to get something like this, as that there does not seem to be many ruined abbeys, churches or castles in my area :D

Cheek out their line of garden art pieces....they are a bit spendy but cool! I don't even want to know what the shipping from the UK would cost :D

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Labyrinth

Labyrinths have been around for hundreds of years. It is an ancient symbol which relates to wholeness. They were used as a meditation tool as well as part of the spiritual process for many cultures throughout the world.

The most famous Labyrinth is the Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth near Paris, France. It was constructed in the early 13th century and is quite complex, measuring over 40 ft. in diameter. It is known that Labyrinths located in the French Cathedrals were the scene of Easter dances which were carried out by the clergy.

But Labyrinths are not unique to the European culture. They are an important theme in the culture of the Native Americans located in the Southwest portion of the United States. The "Man in the Maze" motif can be seen in the pottery, basketry, silverwork and petroglyphs of this region.

Anyone can create a Labyrinth in their yard or garden. It can be as simple as cutting the pattern into an over-grown lawn with your weedeater, or outlining the pattern with rocks, painting on concrete, or even installing plantings around the walkways. For more info on how to create a Labyrinth, click here.

**Special note** Labyrinths should not be confused with Mazes (we'll have more on Mazes at a later date). Labyrinths have only one pathway to the center while a Maze will have choices in the pathway, many of which are dead ends. To read more on Labyrinths, click here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Our Newest Haunting Gardener!

Becca, The Frog Queen, Jeanne and I would like to welcome Sherry Byrum into our Haunted Gardens to help us create the majikal place where wild things grow, flowers bloom extra long, with fanciful colors, and scary or spriteful follies lurk just beneath the cover of grasses, or hidden behind sheltered branches.

Sherry has her own garden blog, listed on the sidebar, and as you can tell, she has both the experience and the space to create some wonderful Haunted Gardens!

We hope that you all will welcome Sherry here as well. We're very excited to see what delights she will share with us! (but no pressure Sherry!) :-)


I am so excited Suzie asked me to join! I am really looking forward to participating in this blog!! Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my love for Halloween and gardening!

A Bright New Flower!

AT&T are putting in lines for television, which for some reason is disrupting our DSL service, so I'm even further behind in catching up than I was before!

So this VERY thoughtful and sweet gift from Sherry at Byrum Art is a couple of days late in sprouting, but no less the beautiful! 

What a day brightner this award is! Just the colors make you want to burst out in song. Maybe that's the way the birds feel when they see the sun, and the temps start rising. 

And the meaning is sure humbling. It is awarded to people whose positive attitude and creativity inspire others. Wow! That's pretty heady! But I already know that I'm here with some of the most innovative and cheerful people that you'd ever be so fortunate to meet!

Now, I'm supposed to list some people to pass it along to, but I'd rather make a large bouquet from this one gorgeous flower. So please, if you don't already have this bright spot on your blog, gather the seeds from this one now, and plant it. It will make smiles grow!

So on behalf of Becca, Jeanne, The Frog Queen and myself, we thank you with all of our collective hearts, Sherry!  You are a pretty fantastic flower in the garden of life, yourself!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Would A Haunted Garden Be

Without Bloodroot?  Sanguinaria Canadensis, or what is commonly known as Bloodroot, or Bloodwort, or Red Puccoon Root, is a native springtime bloom that loves the mottled sun of canopy trees, when they are just beginning to leaf out.

It is native to the eastern portion of N. America, from up in Canada, down into Florida, but I'm finding various sub-species in catalogs selling the rhizomes, and from native plant nurseries selling potted plants, that are adaptable to a variety of micro-climates. Please do not every remove these from the wild. It is not only unethical, but the plant is likely to not survive.

Bloodroot is a perennial, meaning that it returns each year. Each delicate little plant produces a charming white flower with large petals, and a sunny yellow fluffy looking center. They can begin blooming as early as March in the warmer climates, and are usually through with their show by the end of May, going completely dormant by late Summer.

They spread by rhizomes, and can create large colonies over a span of a few years. It is a delight to find these blooms coming up through leaf litter when the days are hinting of Spring. They also produce long green seed pods, with black to reddish seeds inside, that insects covet.

You can find them growing in a multitude of habitats, from moist to dry woods, or along streams, and bordering ponds. They do prefer the ancient layered, littered floor of a woodland, or enhanced garden bed, rather than a stark, cleared piece of ground.

Bloodroot got it's name because of the deep orange to red sap that is stored in the stem and down into the rhizome. It is wise to wear garden gloves when handling this plant, because the sap is toxic to a human's skin.  It produces the toxin sanguinarine, which when coming in contact with skin cells, may destroy tissue, and lead to the formation of open sores, or large scabs.

I still see ads for Bloodroot paste as an alternative treatment of some kinds of skin cancers, but it is extremely dangerous to use, and can wind up serious disfiguring of the skin, while not curing anything.  And what is even scarier, is that for a time, just a few years ago, certain manufacturer's were using sanguinarine in their toothpastes and mouth rinses, which can cause leukoplatia, known as oral lesions.  If you have any concerns over the products that you use, I would suggest googling for more information.

Back on the plus side, it was used by the Native People as a dye, producing a wonder earthy red color. Also, the bees and other beneficial pollinators love it. It is one of their first food sources of the growing season.

So please don't let the ideas of unscrupulous people keep you from growing this delightful little bloom. I've personally had bloodroot for years, and it remains one of the favorites in my Spring garden. I'm sure that you would enjoy growing it too!

A Wonderland

Ok, I'll admit, I'm thoroughly wrapped up in anticipation over the new Alice In Wonderland movie that is coming out this weekend.  From the stills and previews that I've gotten to see (in 3D no less!), it is going to be a major creative eye candy feast for me, and I'll probably have to see it more than once so that I can concentrate on all of the details that go into the sets, costumes, and props.

I've already posted some movie stills on my other blogs, and found one that is rather appropriate for this one too.  Not haunted maybe, and definitely not spooky, but we are also including enchanting, and this one definitely fits that category.

Aren't these awesome blooms?

The Perfect Gardening Boots!

We've been home for a few days now, and I'm still trying to get caught up on everything, including a stack of mail. 

I was ready to toss a pile of junk mail, when one catalog fell open. Whenever that happens I take that as a sign that I NEED to see something on the open pages.

These are what I first laid my eyes upon.

THE perfect boots for rainy weather and working in my Haunted Garden!  What? You doubt the usefulness of the higher heels for the garden? Why, they're perfect! Snakes can slither right through without worry of being stepped on!

And when they finally wear out, I can snuggle them together, open ends under a low evergreen shrub, to let the toads have a nice little shelter, and the Skellies & Roses can R.I.P.