The Art of Darkness

Unhallowed Ground

December 19th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Calla LiliesI’ve been meaning to do the occasional post about goth gardening for a while now but keep getting distracted by shiny objects. I’m finally ready, so let’s all ignore the fact that I’m talking about gardening in the dead of winter. (Readers in the Southern Hemisphere, this one’s for you.)

Despite the very real danger of winding up with a tan, gardening is a rewarding hobby and offers an excellent opportunity to extend your personality to the outside of your home. With a little effort, anything from a proper Victorian front garden to a Goreyesque my-yard-eats-the-occasional-passerby vibe can be achieved.

Incidentally, even if you don’t have a yard you can still indulge in a little gardening: Many plants are perfectly happy living in pots. I particularly like using strawberry jars for container gardening, putting a different plant in each pocket. HGTV has instructions for planting and caring for a strawberry-jar garden, if you aren’t sure how to proceed. If you have absolutely no access to the outside, you can grow plants in a sunny window or in a terrarium. Here’s a short primer on setting up a simple terrarium.

If you’re new to gardening (or if you have a black thumb), herbs are a good choice for a starter garden. They tend to be fairly hardy and resistant to drought and disease, plus you can use them for cooking or crafts. They’re also lovely landscaping plants if you have the room: They come in a variety of colors, so it’s possible to put together, say, an all-silver herb planting.

You can grow a selection of herbs for culinary use (rosemary, sage, basil, dill, mint, tarragon, parsley, chives, thyme), for herbal teas (peppermint, lemon verbena, chamomile, lemon balm, spearmint, lemongrass, sweet woodruff), beauty products (lavender, mugwort, wormwood, tea roses, marigolds), or natural dyes (alkanet, bloodroot, clematis, coreopsis, lady’s bedstraw, yarrow).

It’s also easy to grow an abundance of herbs for projects like wreaths or sachets, it’s much much cheaper than purchasing the same quantity of material, and the quality is almost always better, to boot.

You can go also darker. Before Shadowboy came along I had a poison garden featuring henbane, monkshood, deadly nightshade, wolfsbane, belladonna, and many others (Richters Herbs carries an extensive selection). These plants tend to like shady, damp conditions, so my little garden was a perfect fit for an area where sun-loving plants wouldn’t grow. (Obviously, if you have small children or pets that are likely to eat stuff at random, a similar garden would be a Very Bad Idea.)

If herbs aren’t really your thing, consider a theme garden. As the name suggests, these are gardens devoted to a particular subject (one popular choice is a selection of plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s works). You can choose any theme that strikes your fancy: Traditional witches’ plants, plants with “blood” in their name (bloodroot, bleeding heart, blood lily), or plants reputed to attract fairies (bluebells, forget-me-not, jasmine, white lotus).

There’s no reason why “spooky” should stay inside the house. Slather on the sunblock, grab a trowel, and let your darker side out to play.

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