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Schnee von gestern

24 Jan

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I took the photos yesterday, fascinated by the contrasts and white spaces that function as a visual divider in the compositions of the images. Some people are afraid of empty spaces. In visual art, horror vacui (from Latin “fear of empty space”), also kenophobia, (from Greek “fear of the empty”), is the filling of the entire surface of a space or an artwork with detail. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_vacui)

I am thankful for any gap, any empty space. The white of the snow has a calming, purifying effect on me. Sadly it’s already gone. Literal snows of yesteryear.

Mandrake Family

11 Apr

Family
These three were once conjoined as a single root. Sadly after the winter I noticed the tissue at the top had become soft and started rotting away. I decided to dig them out and safe what was left. They’ve been drying for 3 weeks now and thus far looking good, still almost as fleshy as on the photo.

Mandragora officinarum plantlets

Small mandrake plants from a German seller, arrived today. I quickly unpacked and watered them. They currently reside in our veranda, where they have evening sun, and seem to be doing well thus far. The leaves keep growing. I will wait with repotting until they withdraw their foliage.

Mandragora Flowering

26 Feb

Mandrake Flowering

Vernal mandrake shooting forth plenty of flowers, in fact surpassing all previous years. It’s an utterly delightful sight! But still too early for bees or other pollinators. I may have to jump in…

This is my last of the vernal variant, all the others are autumn mandrakes, which flower in autumn and resort to an underground existence after christmas, usually showing no sign of life until the next fall. Even though I saw one of them is sprouting anew… I wonder if that one manages at last to actually flower at a time when the temps and light conditions are suitable.

Me and the mandrakes… an endless story to be continued.

Another photo of the plant in its current state of glory… those fresh leaves that look like salad (but are really very poisonous thanks to a variety of alkaloids) may soon extend to half a meter length.

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Btw. I’m working on Regina Amandrakina prints…

Sunny December Morning

15 Dec

I was told this was going to be a beautiful day. It was so nice to be up early, enjoying a cup of coffee and seeing the flowers and shrubs in the front yard lit up and warmed by the sun.

Christmas Rose

14 Nov

“Then he who is about to dig out the plant turns to the East and prays that it may be accounted lawful for him to do this and that the gods may grant him permission.” – Pliny the Elder

Folklore: East is where the sun rises and considered to be the place in heaven where the good spirits dwell. According to Christian tradition the dead are buried facing East, which is the direction from which Jesus is believed to arrive on the day of the resurrection in order to take them with him into the kingdom of heaven. But already before the Christian custom pagans would bury their dead so they would face the rising sun.

“One part hellebore with as much artemisia placed beneath a diamond gives animosity and audacity, guards the members [of the wearer] and makes victorious over what you wish.” – Hermes Trismegistus, 15 Fixed Stars 15 Herbs 15 Stones and 15 Figures

According to Hermes Trismegistus black hellebore is attributed to the fixed star Algol, together with the diamond. Agrippa connects the plant further to Mars and places it also under the rule of Saturn:

“Hellebore is dedicated to Mars and the Head of Algol.” – Agrippa

In ritual, hellebore may be burnt for consecrating Saturnian talismans and conjuring spirits of Mars. Christwurzel is also a key herb in Faustian rites of exorcism and coercion, along with garlic and sulfur:

“Carry with you Aaronis and also Hellebore, so that he [the demon] cannot delve into you or possess you.” – Dr. Faust, Magia Naturalis et Innaturalis

The name Christmas Rose comes from its auspicious time of flower or from the Christian legend that it sprouted from a young girl’s tears fallen on the snow, when she was sad that she had no present for the Christ child in Bethlehem. Another legend tells of the goddess Freya, who rescued an abandoned child during a deadly cold winter night by transforming it into a hellebore flower. Hellebore is also a symbol of innocence. It was considered holy and believed to ward off evil spirits, help heal the black death and safe pigs from swine flu if a helleborus flower was placed on the animal’s ears.

The name hellebore is composed of the Greek word ellein = to injure and bora = food, whilst the Latin adjective niger = black, may refer to the color of the plant’s root, which is almost black when dried. The German name Nieswurz refers to its use in sneezing powders. In medieval medicine it was a cure against demonic possession. The plant has a long tradition in healing madness and epilepsy (also called the ‘divine disease’ if a person was possessed by a demon): Ovid writes in his Metamorphoses of the three daughters of king of Argos, who had been driven mad by Dionysos and were screaming and running naked all across town, being cured by the healer Melampus of Pylos with a drink of hellebore solved in milk. Hence the herb was also known by the name Melampodium. Alexander the Great on the other hand is said to have died of an overdose of medication containing hellebore. During the Siege of Kirrha 585 BC, the Greek were said to have poisoned the city’s water supply with hellebore and waited until the enemy was too weak to be able to defend it any longer due to the diarrhea caused by the plant’s poison.

Pliny the Elder mentions the existence of an opposite to the Black Hellebore (Helleborus niger), with the ‘White Hellebore’ or ‘False Helleborin’ (the plant referred to is probably Veratrum album).

More of Meißen: The Cloister

13 Nov

Cloister, belonging to the Dome of Meißen; there hardly gets any sunlight into the yard, which is covered in ivy and fern. Strange figurines carved into sandstone watch from the side. It’s a beautiful mysterious place.

Seeds from Malta

13 Sep

In the mail today:
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Seeds from my favorite Datura variant! Thank you maltaseeds27!

Beloved Green

3 Sep

Some impressions from our garden as summer is coming to an end… it was raining a lot as of late and temperatures have been dropping below 10°C at night. I am busy almost every day, collecting herbs, seeds and flowers for different purposes. My room is thus looking like an extension of our garden… full of herbs hung up or laid out for drying.

Back in Green

23 Apr

Spent all day in the garden, weeding, cleaning and preparing containers, pricking and repotting and doing this year’s first herb harvest! Due to the mild winter and early spring the green are exploding and everything seems to be one month ahead. Our cherry tree has already flowered, the apple tree is in full bloom as well as the lilac. The meadow is white with daisies and cuckoo flowers and the sweet woodruff is already flowering. The new additions to the garden planted last year are blossoming. But there are also some ‘wild’ additions, such as the common lungwort, which I spotted growing wild now on our meadow and which has been known as a medicinal herb for centuries. Below are some recent impressions of the Green and our garden. You see what has become of the seedlings I had posted a few weeks ago…


Above: the bed in half-shade, which we dug out and manured with fresh compost soil last year – before weed had taken over the whole place, so we removed about half a meter soil, strained it and laid foil around everything. Now it’s filled with plants for study and pleasure. I start to worry though it may soon be too packed!

Below: a bed left wild and overgrowing; forget-me-not and hyacinths have found a new place there admidst ground elder unconquered. All attempts to weed it out were futile. Therefore I learned it has also some benific qualities and now would actually be a good time for harvesting and using it fresh in cooking… Besides the sweet woodruff has been expanding not only there but this year it also started taking over the raised bed! As you can see it is overflowing and it was high time to clear it and do a first herb harvest. Lets see what to do with all the woodruff and wormwood! Well, the latter I already know what to use it for… There is also our lilac tree blooming by the compost, spreading its sweet scent.

And there is also the lungwort, which I look forward to study more…

Hellebores

14 Mar

sometimes these flowers are in my dreams

and the world is inside of a hellebore

my vision is that of a bug and these plants occur like giants

I observe the juices pulse inside of stems and leaves

I see every vein

I see flowers opening and unfolding

I love all their colors and shapes

just like the bees feed on them at a time

when other resources are yet scarce

sometimes in dream I hear them

move and unfurl

not so little froglings

so-called roses in the snow

stigmata the tips of serpent tongues

roots the dread head of Medusa

in my hand

eyes are

beneath are

diamonds