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The Witch's Garden

Updated on September 19, 2015

The Witches Garden

In the witch's garden,

The gate is open wide.

"Come inside," says the witch,

'Dears, come inside."

"No flowers in my garden,

Nothing minty, nothing chivey."

"Come inside, come inside,

See my lovely poison ivy."

By Lilian Moore (1909-2004)

Photo: Verbena Rudbeckia and her Monster plants

How Poisonous is that Ivy?

"Leaves of three, let it be."

It is absolutely true that poison ivy ALWAYS grows with "leaves of three".

The poison comes from the oil urushiol,. This causes an allergic reaction that produces a rash. The oil is in all parts of the plant - the leaves, vines, and roots.

What's a Witch?

Here's one definition: Women thought to have evil magic powers. They are popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat, and flying on a broomstick

Poirot: Halloween Party Music (2010) - "Secret Garden" - Also known as "Magic Garden"

With the dubious help of the grisly old village witch and the wildly speculative mystery writer Ariadne Oliver, Poirot investigates old sins and discovers connections between a years-old stabbing and the creation of a Quarry garden.

©Pat Benedict...woopitydooart
©Pat Benedict...woopitydooart

Witches' Plants

Curious Children and Adults

October is the time for witches, goblins and interesting looking plants and fruit. While some of autumn's most attractive plants are great for cooking and seasonal decorations, others are poisonous and truly belong in a witches garden. It's almost as if they scheme with witches to cry out "Touch Me!" and "Taste Me."

Everything looks good to average toddlers and preschoolers, and sometimes festive-looking leaves and fruit attract even older children and adults. There is a bit of squirrel in each of us and unsuspecting adults gather unknowns in hopes that what looks good will taste good. The best defense against poisoning from plants is knowledge and good practice.

Children are drawn to brightly-colored fruit more than leaves. However, if they are use to seeing adults working in a the garden munching on bits if herbs or walking through wooded areas nibbling on tasty twigs of black or sweet birch (Betula lenta) , they may be tempted to experiment on their own.

Photo: Verbena Rudbeckia and Poisonous Plants


Beware White Fruit

Words of warning from the Arnold Arboretum (Boston, MA) plant folks: Avoid any fruit that is white. It's bound to be poisonous. Examples: poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), Doll's-eyes / White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda), and mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens).

Poem 'The Rose' from the book "The Temple" (1633) - George Herbert (1593 - 1633)

Rose from an Herbal
Rose from an Herbal

"What is fairer than a rose?

What is sweeter? Yet, it purgeth."

The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes by John Gerarde [or Gerard], (Norton and Whittaker: London, 1633), p.1263, lists the medicinal properties of roses.

What's with Roses and Purgeth?

One of the "Vertues" of the Rose was it could be used as a purge. This is something to drink that flushes unhealthy toxins from the system. Could there be "death by roses?" Could a little bit much of a rose distillation be definitely too much for an unsuspecting victim?

Know your poisonous plants!

Which of the following is not a poisonous plant?

See results

Witches and Their Images - Fact or Fiction

Witch images have been with humans since antiquity. All images change along the way. Images of witches continue to change. Do they still need black cats to maintain an image? Do they still need to be surrounded by evil or poisonous plants?

How do you imagine witches?

See results

'The Winter's Tale' William Shakespeare

"Here's flowers for you;

Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;

The marigold, that goes to bed wi' the sun

And with him rises weeping: these are flowers

Of middle summer, and I think they are given

To men of middle age."

Amazon Books on Poisonous Plants - Familiar Plants. Some Good, Some Nasty. Learn to Know the Difference.

Plants have always been thought to be powerful. Now, we know that they contain nasty chemicals that can injure both humans and animals. Witches know their plants by extensive and careful study.

Illustration of Hyssopus officinalis
Illustration of Hyssopus officinalis

COTTON MATHER (1663-1728) Puritan, Congregational Minister and Author - Excerpt from the "Angel of Bethesda"

Before the Age of Enlightenment texts like The Angel of Bethesda explained many illnesses in a spiritual context, attributing illnesses to demonic and divine sources. The use of repentance and traditional folk medicine were treatments for mental illness. Afflicted individuals were blamed for their own sickness This was the age of witches in both the New World as well as the Old One.

"The Vertues of every Plant call for thy praises to the Glorious God who has made the Plant and taught us the Vertues of it. And if thou are a Plant of Righteousness thou wilt study to be one, upon the Accounts, of greater Vertues than any that are to found, from the Cedar that is in Lebanon even unto the Hyssop that springs out of the wall..." Cotton Mather

Botanomancy is...

the practice of divination using herbs. An ancient method of magic practiced by witches; they would burn plants and trees and read the message in the ashes.

Hyssop officinalis - the hyssop herb

Salvia officinalis - official or culinary sage

Sage (Salvia officinalis) from Koehler's Medicinal Plants (1887)
Sage (Salvia officinalis) from Koehler's Medicinal Plants (1887)

Invitation to a Heavenly Feast - Meditation #62 - Edward Taylor (1642-1729) - American Puritan poet and minister of the Westfield, MA Congregational Church

"I'll surely come, Lord fit me for this feast:

Give me my Sage and my Savory; me dub

with Goldenrod, and with Saint Johns wort good.

Root up my Henbain, Fainbain, Divells bit,

My Dragons, Chokewort, Grasswort, Ragwort, vice

And set my knot with Honeysuckle, stick

Rich Herb-a-Grace and Grains of Paradise,

Angelica, yea Sharons Rose the best

And Herba Trinitatis in my breast."

What's in a Name?

"herba trinitatis" is the herbalists' name for Viola tricolor (heartsease,wild pansy)

Source

Witches Chant - Shakespeare's McBeth

By Daniel Gardner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Daniel Gardner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Some witches like those described in Shakespeare's McBeth preferred to use reptiles, amphibians, and parts of small mammals rather than plants in their potions.

"Double, double, toil and trouble,

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of finny snake.

In the cauldron boil and bake.

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog.

Adder's fork and blind worm's sting,

Lizards leg and owlets wing.

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a devil's broth now bubble.

Double, double, toil and trouble,

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Cool it with baboons' blood,

When the charm is firm and good."

A Cauldron is...

sometimes called a caldron and is a large metal pot (kettle) for cooking and/or boiling over an open fire, with a large mouth and frequently with an arc-shaped hanger.

Healing Herbs

The garden is the poor man's apothecary ~ German Proverb

The Mud Maid in The Lost Gardens of Heligan

The Mud Maid, mud sculpture by Sue Hill and Pete Hill in The Lost Gardens of Heligan, a  Victorian style botanical garden in the U.K.
The Mud Maid, mud sculpture by Sue Hill and Pete Hill in The Lost Gardens of Heligan, a Victorian style botanical garden in the U.K. | Source

Witches and Your Thoughts

What did you think about this hub page? Did it make you think differently about witches? Would you like to know more about witches?

Witches and their Gardens

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    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      Elsie, Thanks for checking it out!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Very interesting witches garden. Especially with halloween approaching.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @ecogranny: Thank you for your visit and also for liking what is one of my favorite topics - plant lore.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I enjoyed it, especially the plant lore.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 4 years ago from New York City

      I never gave witches that much thought, but this lens fleshes them out in a nice, spooky way.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @smine27: Hi again! Thanks for stopping by my witch lens...there is more to witches than meets first impression. Thanks for reading and for you're always welcome comments.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Great lens with interesting tidbits of information littered throughout. I enjoyed reading this.:)

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @TheFabMarketer: Thanks for stopping and for leaving your gracious comments I hope the books will be a real help to you.

    • TheFabMarketer profile image

      TheFabMarketer 4 years ago

      Thanks for the list of books. I've wanted to work on my garden and make it look pretty. Although the weather is getting cooler, I'll be prepared for next year with an arsenal of good ideas.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @anonymous: Thanks for stopping by and for leaving your gracious comment!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very interesting nice lens

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      jpmny999 4 years ago

      I loved reading this lens.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @kristalulabelle: Thanks so much for visiting and your comments! I'll have to get busy and do more lenses about herbs.

    • kristalulabelle profile image

      Kristen 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      I loved reading all about witches and herbs! Great job, I enjoyed the read!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      What a wonderful and unique witch's lens. Blessed!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      What a wonderful and unique witch's lens. Blessed!

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 5 years ago

      Enjoyed strolling through your witch's garden. I didn't know the "rule" about white fruit. Quite a few cool tidbits presented in an interesting way.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @newbizmau: Again, thanks for stopping by, participating and for your Squid blessing...all very much appreciated.

    • newbizmau profile image

      Maurice Glaude 5 years ago from Mobile, AL

      So glad I stopped by your lens. Truly a pleasure to read.

      -Blessed by a SquidAngel

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 5 years ago

      Love the poems.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Very interesting read, indeed - thanks for sharing!

    • perrybenard profile image

      perrybenard 6 years ago

      very interesting info your lenses are always a " treat "

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 6 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      Thank you for stopping by :+) Yes, it is interesting and amazing how the mind of a witch works. Cercis

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      Interesting this witch's garden.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 6 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @anonymous: My pleasure :+) You can take he teacher out of the classroom, but can't take the classroom away from the teacher. Cercis

    • Art-Aspirations profile image

      Art-Aspirations 6 years ago

      What a clever twist on the Halloween theme!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I had forgotten that poison ivy isn't just in the leaf but in the plant and root. Enjoyed the education.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 6 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Art-Aspirations: HI! Thanks for visiting and "liking" this topic. Cercis

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 6 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Virginia Allain: Yes, this would make a great theme garden or gardens. And a lot of fun to plan them, and maybe plant them. Maybe next autumn! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I like gardens with a theme. This would be a unique one to plant and develop.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 6 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @KimGiancaterino: Thanks for stopping by :+) This is my most favorite season of the year.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens ... I am looking forward to the fall.

    • wolfie10 profile image

      wolfie10 6 years ago

      i did enjoy your lens. interesting way of presenting it. good luck with it

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