October is the month we celebrate Halloween, and it made me think about folklore and superstitions connected to the garden, I did a little research, and this is what I found out.
Halloween was a celebration that originated with the Celts in Ireland and was called Samhain, a name that pre-dates All Hallows’ Eve or Halloween as we call it today. Villagers would light bonfires and there would be a big feast. They believed that on this night, the 31st October the veil between the world of the living and the dead would lift, allowing the spirits to roam freely amongst them.
To ward off the evil spirits the villagers would carve scary faces into turnips, and years later when this celebration was taken to America by travellers, a pumpkin was adopted instead of the turnip and the tradition was born.
Other folklore I read about included a tale about Alchemilla Mollis or Ladies Mantle. Pre-18th Century folk believed that the drops of rain on the leaves of this plant had magical powers, and when these were added to metal would turn it into gold. This practice is called ‘alchemy’, hence how the plant got its Latin name Alchemilla Mollis meaning small alchemist.
Foxgloves have a few stories connected to them. Firstly they are said to be a source of witches’ power. People believed that witches made a balm from the foxglove plant that they mixed with animal fat and rubbed onto themselves and their broomstick to make them fly!
Foxgloves are a favourite plant of the fairy world. Fairies are said to play in the trumpets of these plants and if you see one that has speckles inside its flower this marks where a fairy has been.
It is said to be bad luck to bring a foxglove into the house because these flowers belong to the fairies and, if you pick one it will annoy them and they will take revenge on you!
Another saying that we use regularly, and that is used all over the world is ‘knock on wood’ or ‘touch wood’ and something we say for luck.
This superstition is again linked to the fairies and that if you knock on the bark of a tree trunk it will wake up the fairies that live inside so you can let them know you need their help, and they can grant you good luck. It seems that fairies do not mind if you wake them up, but just don’t pick their foxgloves!
Finally, as gardeners we are a generous lot, and like to share our plants with others. If you give a plant to someone and you do not get a thank you in return, you should not be offended.
Superstition says that if you say thank you for the plant it will not grow for you, but instead you should say thank you for the pot the plant arrived in instead. Perhaps another reason why ‘stealing’ a plant cutting from a garden you visit makes it grow like crazy and infects your guilty conscience?
Autumn is now well and truly with us, and a great time to start thinking about your garden preparations for next year. With ‘staycations’ becoming more and more popular due to the current situation with Covid19, perhaps you have been thinking about how you can improve your own garden ready for next summer, and this is the perfect time to do the ground work pardon the pun!
Whether you garden is large or small, established or new build or if you would like help revamping your garden borders or designing that gorgeous garden you have been dreaming about then get in touch and we can get the ball rolling in the right direction!
Until next time stay safe