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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Garden Witchery Search

Book Review:
Garden Witchery: Magick From The Ground Up

Author: Ellen Dugan
Trade Paperback, 268 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: February 2003
ISBN: 0738703184
Price & More Info: Click Here


This interesting little book by Ellen Dugan is targeted at a rather specific group...Wiccan/Pagan gardeners. So, while it wouldn't necessarily have a Wide appeal, it is an informative, entertaining read within that category. The cover art is very appropriate and restful and at a slim 243 pages it is an easy read. Let's take a look inside, shall we?

Garden Witchery is separated into ten chapters which are then further divided into more specific topics. What is Garden Witchery? Touches on wisewomen in general, medieval gardens, gothic plant, their magical uses and alternatives for those hard to find or no longer recommended plants, as well as a modern look at Garden Witches, house and garden plants. Backyard Magick yields more practical information on topics like the care and placement of trees, learning the needs of your planting area, or discovering your correct planting zone, while tucking in elements like the magical correspondences of trees and the Nine Woods poem like baby's breath in a bouquet. Which segues nicely into the next two chapters.

Flower Magick and Florigraphy and Flower Folklore give those with green fingers plenty of info to thumb through. This is one of the most nicely rounded and intriguing collections of flower lore I've come across to date. Correspondences between flowers or flowering herbs and colors, months, gods/goddesses, floral vocabulary in general (such as the difference in meaning between giving someone a zinnia as opposed to a rose), the art of simpling and an entire section on Tussie-Mussies, miniature hand-held bouquets whose uses and meanings date back to the 16th century. There are plenty of craft suggestions, as well as Craft suggestions (hehe) for those of a Wiccan tendency.

The next chapter, Enchanted Specialty Gardens, gives us planting suggestions for gardens/windowboxes with specific goals like House Warding, Moonlight garden, or a Witch's Shade garden. It also offers garden diagrams, excellent advice on potentially dangerous plants like Morning Glories and Foxglove. I was especially pleased with the general warning to Know what it is that you are choosing to plant. Those of us who love to garden or keep a collection of house plants are often given plants as gifts, and if you receive a green guest that is unknown to's always wise to make it your business to find out as much as you can about them. Especially if you have small children (even as visitors) or pets. I can't tell you how many Grandmothers have Morning Glories in their yards, never suspecting that if their grandchild decided to have a bit of a graze on these little could kill them. "Know your plants" is extremely sound advice, whether or not you are a Pagan.

Moon Gardening, Magick, and Astrological Timing, for me this was a particularly intriguing chapter. Basically, this chapter covers the ancient practice of planting specific crops during certain phases of the moon. The second quarter of the moon, for example, is an excellent time to plant things like tomatoes, peppers, corn and squash. There are, of course, several suggestions and a recipe or two for Esbats (Wiccan moon celebrations) as well as a section on Moon Goddesses and Planetary correspondences.

While I immensely enjoyed this particular chapter, it also harbors my only real complaint with this work. For those interested in finding out when the next day influenced by Cancer is so you can transplant that delicate leafy'll have to turn to either a current almanac or Llewellyn's annual Moon Sign Book. A minor complaint perhaps, and I do understand that including That much dry information in a work like this would have completely destroyed it's charm. I just prefer to have all my info in one reference whenever possible....and had to resign myself to purchasing yet another book if I was truly interested in pursuing this aspect of Garden Witchery.

Faery Magick was quite possibly the most entertaining and delightful section of this work for me. The info covered here is, somewhat obviously, all pertaining to gardening with the Good Folk in mind. Plants that are pleasing to our Wee Cousins, magical times and places as well as spell suggestion, while having their place, weren't Nearly as entertaining to me as Ellen Dugan's personal accounts of Faery mischiefs. I had to stop long enough to wipe away tears of laughter at least twice. More laughter is always a good thing to me.

Garden Witch Crafts is pretty self-explanatory and fairly basic. Dugan covers charm bags, dream pillows, sachets, bath salts, wreaths, and At-a-Glance magical correspondence lists. The only craft suggestion here that I found to be somewhat new and interesting was the Tussie-Mussie in a Teacup. I'm always interested in new craft suggestions for items from my garden, and especially those with a Pagan hue to them.

I can't say I was especially impressed with this selection, but it was more than adequate for novices to these specific crafts. On a personal note, I'll be planting birdhouse gourds in my garden this year and am greatly looking forward to seeing how well this plant yields for my own crafting ideas. It seems a potentially versatile enough plant that I thought it at least worth mentioning here. Besides, my feathered friends tell me that more gardeners should be friendly enough to offer a little plausible nesting space....they enjoy a nice sunflower or broom corn too.

Sabbat Celebrations for Families, is most definitely Wiccan oriented, but does give some lovely and very complete suggestions for ceremony and decoration for the typical Pagan holidays. Again, the real appeal here is all the personal experiences that Dugan shares with her readers. I found her generosity and openness on being a Pagan (especially a Pagan parent, in a predominantly non-Pagan family and rather prejudiced world in general) throughout this book to be very inspiring and thought provoking. Certainly of appeal to anyone out there in a similar situation, and given in a free and nurturing manner that simply encourages one to blossom.

And finally Garden Magick from the Ground Up. Dugan gently wraps things up with a musing look at Nature being the ultimate Sacred Space. She encourages her readers to set up our own space, to branch out and root around for more information if we are so inclined. Blessings for your garden, casting a Circle of Trees, and a simple guideline for writing your own herbal charms are all pressed lovingly between these pages. The final section of this book is a space to begin your own gardening journal...a Book of Green Shadows, if you will.

Right from the cover page, this book reaches out to a Green Gardener's imagination and creativity with a quote from Alfred Austin, "Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are." One can't help but pause and ponder on that thought, wondering just how much your garden may have inadvertently revealed about your inner self. Beautiful snippets of poetry, and gardening or magick related quotes are scattered like sweet violets through the lush but practical lawn of this book. Odd bits of Lore, Legend, and Myth are cultivated side by side with practical advice and a cornucopia of collected Wiccan influenced ceremonies, plant specific spells, general Pagan anecdotes and crafts... pun intended.

While not a vital addition to even a Garden Witch's library, I found Garden Witchery to be sweetly fulfilling and an extremely relaxing read with benefits for both the non-Wiccan, newcomer and adept alike. I can certainly think of no better book to share with you this Spring. I'll leave you with this final thought...

"In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful. " ~Abram L. Urban

Reviewed by Quinn

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