By Ellen Dugan
Garden Witchery brings fun back into the garden chores. Ellen Dugan, Master Gardener and witch has written a manual to delight anyone. Dugan writes as if she were speaking to you while wandering though her own garden. This book is extremely practical and fun to read. The stories and wisdom on her own gardening experiences sprinkled throughout the book help to illustrate and remind the reader that gardening is a process and mistakes happen. There aren’t many pictures in the book but it does contain some decorative illustrations and charts. As a new homeowner with a yard waiting to be sculpted, Garden Witchery got me excited about planting and making my gardens magickal.
The book opens with gardening basics. While she lives down south, Dugan presents her gardening wisdom as generically as possible. This section includes a copy of the US Hardiness Zones chart that explains how to pick the best plants according to the weather. Some might find such practicality odd to include in a pagan-themed book. But Dugan points out that gardening and planting is fun and very magickal. She shows readers how to plan their garden, select plants and which ones to avoid. Plants, flowers, herbs and trees are discussed equally in the book. She explains that a magickal garden doesn’t need to include exotic and expensive flowers, or flowers that aren’t native to the area. Instead she invites the reader to look outside and within their local area to see what it has to offer their magickal gardens.
She includes a chapter devoted to different types of gardens that focus magickal energy into different intentions. Shade gardens, cottage gardens, moon gardens, faerie gardens and more. Dugan makes each garden magickal by listing a “witches dozen” listing of plants one can add to their garden. She also gives spell and ritual suggestions for each garden. The plants in Garden Witchery are chosen for their “witchyness” as well as their ease to plant, locate and grow. Like the circle of life, Dugan teaches that with garden magick, everything is interconnected.
Dugan starts imbedding her magickal knowledge by sharing her ideas on planting correspondences tables. She believes that the seasons, time of day and the day you choose to plant something affects the plants, their blooms, and the magick you can draw from them. Then she relates all those correspondences back to the lists of plants and trees the book contains. The spells, rituals, simples and other crafty examples all draw from the plants she includes in the book. The book includes an entire chapter written about the art of florigraphy (the meaning of flowers) and flower lore. Then she ties the magick back into a whole garden by giving the reader ideas on how to construct their own Garden Book of Shadows and spells.
The book ends with a garden journal for the reader to record his or her own thoughts. However, I found that it’s not the end of what the book has to teach. After having read this book I found that I became more knowledgeable and aware of the soil my yard has. I also know more about what plants I do currently own and can get to incorporate into my spells and rituals. Garden Witchery helped me see the value and fun in planting and keeping gardens.