Archive for June, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Midsomer Magick

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) Achillea millefolium Sempervivum tectorum

Above from left to right: St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), chief among the magical herbs of midsummer; yarrow (Achillea millefolium), used apotropaically and in love divination; houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum) kept lightning from the roof.

Then doth the iouyful feast of John the Baptist take his turne,
When bonfires great with loftie flame, in every towne doe burne:
And yong men round about with maides, doe daunce in every streete,
With garlandes wrought of Motherwort, or else with Vervaine sweete
And many other flowres faire, with Violets in their hands,
Whereas they all doe fondly thinke, that whosoever standes,
And thorow the flowres beholds the flame, his eyes shall feel no paine.

The Popish Kingdom or Reigne of Antichrist written in Latin Verse by Thos. Naogeorgus and Englyshed by Barnaby Googe, 1570

Naogeorgus (Thomas Kirchmeyer), a Protestant pastor and polemicist, goes on to describe fully the paganistic rites proper to midsummer’s eve in sixteenth-century Catholic Germany: leaping through bonfires, casting herbs and flowers into the flames, solemnly invoking that all ills be consumed in the conflagration until the circle of the year comes round again, and rolling flaming wheels down mountainsides in imitation of the sun, in the hope that all mischief, harm, and danger is likewise thrown down to hell. Read more »

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Garden Photography

alchemilla_mollis datura_seed_pods fiddleheads

Above, from left to right: lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) in Cuxa Cloister; downy thornapple (Datura metel) in Bonnefont Garden; fiddleheads of the royal fern (Osmunda regalis) in Trie Cloister. All photographs by the author, Barbara Bell.

There is a garden tool that may not be in your shed, but it’s one that I use frequently: a camera. It’s handy to take photos of plant labels when I visit botanical gardens, and it helps me keep a visual record of the plants and planting combinations that pique my interest. Read more »

Friday, June 5, 2009

Making Hay

June page from the <em>Belles Heures</em> June Activity: The Reaper The Zodiacal Sign of Cancer

Above, from left to right: Calendar page for June from The Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, 1405–1408/1409. Pol, Jean, and Herman de Limbourg (Franco-Netherlandish, active in France, by 1399–1416). French; Made in Paris. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1954 (54.1.1); detail of the activity for the month; detail of the zodiacal symbol Cancer. See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

‘Tis all enforced, the fountain and the grot,
While the sweet fields do lie forgot . . .

—Andrew Marvell, “The Mower, Against Gardens”

Read more »