Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Celebrating Samhain("sow-wan") the Celtic Origin of Modern Halloween

The Bittersweet End of the Season-but the Celtic New Year Begins! I love Fall, and frankly- I'm ready to put the garden to bed for the Winter. I always use lots of elements from Hiddenfield farm in my work at Bergamot &Ivy, and Autumn is no exception! Wonderful lime green Hedgeapples are a fragrant pleasure now, and they a reputed to repel spiders and other home invading insects. University tests show a natural repellent is present in the strange fruit, so maybe those wives's tales are right! Our native Bittersweet is so pretty now, I've used much of it this season, always special. Remember to never plant the invasive Asian takes over habitat, and shatters as well, our Celastris scandens is more brilliant and the preferred variety for florists. When planting this excellent vine, always plant one male to every three to five females for good pollination. The foliage turns a bright gold as well! I have a big Halloween party to create for one of my favorite clients. The two biggest Pumpkins of the season will be transformed for the Friday night event!

I'm not into wearing costumes anymore, but I love this time of the year! To the ancient Celts(I'm Scots Irish) This is the night where the Vail is thinnest between the two worlds. The spirits of the dearly departed are welcomed back to this earth by lighting candles in the windows and placing food and drink at an empty place for the spirits to enjoy. It's not really a scary time, more of a celebration like the day of the dead in Mexico...very similar motivations and celebrations. In the Celtic language it is Samhain ("sow-wan"), and it is also the start of the New Year-we ask our ancestors to join us in ushering out the old year, and bringing in the New! Incidentally, before The Irish came to the New world and adopted pumpkins for vegetable lanterns (Pumpkins are native to the Americas) We used Turnips hollowed out to hold a coal and a bit of fire to light the hearth for a New Year.I hope everyone has a wonderful time this weekend!!!
Pumpkin Man, by Native American painter Hoke Malsells-1951 (East coast)
The Biggest Pumpkin of the Season-and the Smallest, Getting ready for the Holiday
A John Hulsey painting of the entrance several years ago....on a sunnier day!
Late fall Entrance Gate
Maiden Grass Plumes
Brilliant Kousa Dogwood foliage
American Bittersweet, Celastris scandens at the water's edge
Hedgeapples or Osage Oranges or Bois D' the Mulberry family
19th century Japanese bronze crab and Hedgeapples(Maclura pomifera)
Beautiful Fresh Eggs
These mimulus come from tropical America, but we have native species that are charming as well. Jeff and I were hiking at the Maroon Bells by Aspen Colorado, and found a special light yellow one growing at the base of waterfalls along the trail. The flowers were smaller, but it was great to see the plants flourishing in their perfect environment.

Jeff and I went to a wedding of close family friends of Jeff's in Dubuque Iowa...a beautiful area of the country! I had no idea that it was on the Mississippi river, hilly and lush. His family has farms outside of the area, and we had a blast with family and friends for the weekend. I guess I thought it would look basically like Western Kansas, kinda flat and uneventful. Well, it was like a grant wood painting, patchwork beauty. His Ma, Bev, happens to be a master quilter-I think she's probably good at what ever she wants to do, and that's a great many things! We went to a spectacular park overlooking the grand river and it's locks, called Eagle Point Park. Yes, they have Bald Eagles there, and a incredibly well designed park system with dinning pavilions, walks, GORGEOUS native Oaks and sugar Maples....even a hundred plus year old Koi pond, really neat. Well I'll tell you my frustration...I forgot my camera! Couldn't have been a worse time to do such a lame thing, but that's why there are no pics of said attractions. I brought back a grove worth of acorns...planted them in pots in the greenhouse only to go out the next day to find that the mice dug up all but four out of twenty or so! I was so mad!!! Every Fall I have a mice invasion out there!
This past week went by so fast, I was actually in five states one day! My friend Jeff came back from Colorado, bringing with him two replacement hens to keep my poor pullet company. I've already had fresh eggs from the new gals, and everybody seems happy as can be. Jeff always brings the best gifts; first off, the hens! then a load of fresh eggs from his birds, as well as a beautiful Autumn toned Mimulus from his greenhouse.I've had this type before-"Monkey Magic",appropriately enough! I love these...they come in wonderful colors and patterns, you never know what you'll get!


  1. What a wonderful post, with exquisite photos, as well!

  2. Thanks Tim, have a great weekend! B

  3. Hedgeapples or Osage Oranges or Bois D' the Mulberry family

    i've never seen them before...!

  4. Mo, they are very common in the center of the U.S.A. Sharp thorns made them a natural fence for Native Americans and settlers alike, also a wind break during the "dust bowl" of the 1930's

  5. That full of knowledge! Ha! Thanks Brian!