Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Enchantment of Flowers

Bring on the Flowers! Tomorrow morning at 5:00 am (the time I get up anyway). I will be up in my flannel p.j.s and hoodie and watching television to see the coverage of the Royal Wedding.
Warning: Sloppy Romanticism Alert!
Actually I am going to be watching for a couple of reasons. Number One. I have always enjoyed learning, studying and reading about the history of Britain’s Royal family…and number two- I want to see the flowers!

Oh I am sure Kate’s dress will be stunning, and it will set the tone and standard for bridal fashion for years. Super. But honestly?  I want to see what sorts of flowers they will be carrying. Will they be the classic bridal round nosegays, big trailing bouquets, little Tussie-Mussies, or elegant soft and romantic, hand tied arrangements? Like the one just above. 

For me, it’s all about the flowers…. Well honestly did you expect anything else? I think part of this comes from my years as a floral designer. Wedding bouquets are fun to make but they are also stressful as hell. Because every stem you place you know the bride is going to flutter and coo over and that her mother will look at hyper-critically for something she does not like.

I recall many an afternoon delivering flowers to a wedding. It’s not always a drop and dash thing either. You pass out the bouquets and typically end up pinning the guys Boutonnières on. The Groom’s mother can usually help out in these situations but more often than not you find yourself surrounded by terrified or hung over groomsman who need help pinning that flower on straight.

Over the years, my family realized that I was the one to go to if there was a problem with any flowers. I am trying to remember the last wedding I attended where I was not pounced upon to fix some horrible (they thought) floral crisis. Which usually involves me looking at the bouquet and pushing stems back in. The biggest one I ever “rescued” was at a cousin’s wedding- seems a slightly inebriated groomsman knocked over one of two large church displays on a stand and the flowers were mashed, and tall gladiolas in the back were broken off and hanging .

Thanks to my husband’s pocket knife I had that all fixed in about 5 minutes flat. I just re-cut the stems, re-inserted them in the oasis foam and moved a few things around. I “fluffed” the arrangement, and when I was done,  it looked better than the other one did.

The Bride’s mother then asked me to “fix” that other arrangement too. So they would match. Well hell…. How I managed not to trash my clothes I’ll never know. So I tackled the other arrangement. The groom was so relived that his bride would not find about his friend’s drunken flower arrangement smashing--- that he kissed me dead on the mouth.

Well okay, weddings bring out lots of heightened emotions. Also before someone is too scandalized or worrying what my husband thought... He was laughing his ass off. At me- as the groom was a cousin of mine. 

So, looking forward to seeing the wedding flowers tomorrow. Wonder if they’ll go sleek and modern or soft, romantic and English country garden? I hope it’s the later. I love soft open roses in multi colors and casual arrangements... But we’ll have to wait and see.
Blessed be, Ellen

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April Showers and Countdown to Beltane

Good Morning,
Well, I have a week to buff up my gardens and get them ready for the Beltane celebration with my coven. There is just one problem. We have had so much rain for the past few weeks, with more rain coming until Thursday, that its going to be a “dash out when the rain stops and work on the gardens- mud fest”. The gardens are waterlogged. Big time. 

I love April Showers… however we have had a series of severe weather problems in my area for the past few weeks. Tons of rain and hail. A couple of days ago we had a tornado rip through the St. Louis area, and trash the airport and destroy many homes all in the area where I grew up.

The last big tornado to hit St. Louis was in 1967. I was just three years old but I remember vividly the sound it made and the fact that my parents had us in the center hallway of the house. My dad pulled the mattress off of the bed and we huddled under it- as we had no basement. That storm blew out all the windows in our house in Bridgeton and took the roof off the house next door. My parents are still surprised that I remember what they said to each other in the middle of the tornado. I was only three, but some things stay with you.

Friday’s storms traveled a very similar route. While at my house we had tornado sirens blaring, thunder, lightning, hail and torrential rain. I checked on all of our adult kids via cell phone, told them to be ready to take cover at their own apartments and watched the clouds roll and circulate past our neighborhood and then move on to the north and the east. I said to my husband. “Oh, damn, that’s nasty. Somebody is going to get hit today.” Then the hail started and we both moved back from the windows and went to the center of our home and waited. Oh and before anyone asks, yes we were prepared to take shelter, and no we do not have a basement.

We lost power at the height of the storms, but it was back on within an hour. The next morning, I went out in the daylight to see if the car or the gardens had sustained any damage-- and other than a few holes in the leaves of the hostas- we came through amazingly well.

So this week I’ll be out in the garden (in the mud) buffing it up as best I can. I look at it this way, the weeds will be easy to pull, and the rain is good for the gardens, but a few of my containers took a beating. I think I’m going to have to drill a few drainage holes in the bottom of that big urn I planted for the formal herb gardens.  I have noticed standing water in that urn and keep having to tip it over a bit to pour the water out. Oh well, that’s what cordless drills are for. I’ll have to make sure I do that while my husband is at work… he gets twitchy about me taking his fancy tools out into the garden. He would not even let me use the air compressor and nail gun when we added onto the privacy fence last year. Sheesh men can be so territorial about their power tools.

Good news? The iris are blooming, the snowball bush’s green flowers are turning to white, and the peonies are very tall. All of my hostas and ferns are lush and my painted ferns are bigger than ever, pretty and purple in the garden. My herbs are all greening back up and spring is here! In a couple of weeks I’ll have roses in my garden again. This is going to be a fun week, while I countdown to Beltane.
Blessed be, Ellen

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sping in Ellen's Gardens of Witchery

Hello! Today the weather is in the 70’s much more typical for April than last week’s near 90 degree temperatures. I spent the first half of my day transplanting ferns and dividing hostas in the perennial gardens. Hooray free plants! The gardens are really starting to fill in now. The hostas are up and the leaves are unfurling. The tulips are blooming away and the hydrangeas are popping more leaves every day.

To my surprise even the Chinese Snowball Bush is setting its blossoms. Even after the crazy temperature swings- first that heat and then we had a week long cool spell. And it did not affect that shrub at all. Here is a picture of the blossoms. They start out small and green but will get much larger and then turn to white and be all round and pretty – hence the name “Snowball bush”. This blooming shrub is in the viburnum family and the botanical name  for this shrub is Viburnum macrocephalum sterile. Because somebody is going to ask. Yes, they are easy to find at nurseries and garden centers.

Here is a picture to the right, of one of my perennial gardens with the tulips blooming and you can see how much the Oakleaf hydrangea has leafed out since the “Garden of Buckets” blog photos I posted a few weeks ago.

 I am so glad that I followed my instincts and only planted pansies and geraniums last week, they like the cool weather. It got down into the 40’s for a while. So anything else would have been in trouble. My pot of culinary herbs is looking great and it was wonderful when I made potato salad  this week to just step on the back porch and snip some fresh dill and parsley.

Here is my faery garden all in bloom and made out of an old birdbath. Aren't those violas sweet in there? I wrote about how to make one of these for yourselves in the Llewellyn Witches’ Datebook a few years ago.

As to my other yet-to-be-planted window boxes and containers.... I am definitely waiting until May to plant the wave petunias in the window boxes and my big pot of Voodoo impatiens for under the rose arbor. Any earlier and they might get zapped by cold temps.

Voodoo Impatiens are a color variety of impatiens that are an intriguing mix of purple and orange and coral. A picture I took of the impatiens turned out so well I use it on my Café Press t-shirts and mugs! There is a link at the top of the page for my Café press store go check it out!

Still, it’s too early to plant those impatiens yet. I'll probably wait until Mother’s day weekend. My three gown kids just take me shopping to the nursery on Mother’s Day- or before, and I buy all my plants for the window boxes and containers. It works out well. They always know what to get me for Mother’s day, and I get to spend time with them and I buy what I want.

Tonight I’m going to sit quietly in my gardens and watch the full moon rise. No coven get-together this month. So I am going to enjoy a solitary celebration.

I have two more chapters to go to finish book number 13 and its bouncing right along. Actually both of those last chapters are half way finished. So its going to be fun to work on them.  I should have the book done by early May and take the rest of the month to polish it and shine it up.

Then I’ll ship it off to my editor at Llewellyn, Elysia. Once she has it safely in her hands, I’ll announce what the topic and working title of the book is. Release date for book number 13?
Summer 2012.

Happy full moon and blessed be!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Good Days Work in the Gardens of Witchery!


Flowering Crab Apple
Well believe it or not its almost 90 degrees here today. That’s pretty warm for April in Missouri. I got up at 5:30 went for a jog and a walk. As I walked home I discovered that my forsythia is still blooming and the flowering crab looks enchanting.
After my walk, I ate breakfast and went to go plant shopping with the hubs. We came home, changed clothes again and busted our ass in the yard all day. He cut the grass and put down some weed and feed. While he did that I had plenty too keep me busy. To begin, I planted a container full of wonderfully fragrant violas by the front door. Nabbed a pretty hanging basket full of hot purpley-pink trailing petunias. Hung those on the hook by the front door. The punch of color makes me smile.

Next I planted a big container of cooking/ magickal herbs for the sunny back patio. I call it the Kitchen Witch Pot. It has in it, basil, dill, parsley, thyme and rosemary. (Yes indeed they all have magickal applications as well as being culinary herbs.)

Then planted up 2 big hanging baskets. Hot pink geraniums and blue lobelia and trailing vinca vines.  I save and re-use the hanging basket pots every year. I also planted a few more pots of parsley in the vegetable section of the garden and put in another rosemary plant down in the formal herb garden. I transplanted some purple coneflowers, trimmed back my roses and pruned them into healthier shapes. Staked the peonies which grew about 6 inches since yesterday. I use old tomato cages for that. It works great. As the peonies grow taller you train them inside the rings, and it holds them up when they bloom in May.

Formal Herb Garden June 2010

Then I considered the autumn clematis that was looking horrible and smothering the curved arbor with lots of dead foliage, at the front of the formal herb gardens. So I whacked that back- hard. Here is a picture (to the right), of that arbor in question from last June.
I know that sounds harsh cutting back that autumn clematis- but no worries-- it grows like a weed. Its tough and the severe pruning will be good for it.
After that I pulled all the dead foliage down and re tied the new climbing shoots, and raked, swept, hauled, planted, weeded, watered, tilled all over the yard and basically worked my behind off out there.

So you may be wondering…. What’s with the marathon gardening session? Well, I do this for FUN!
No seriously. I do.
Clearly I need to seek professional help.
Preferably at the nearest garden center.
Now I have another list of the things I need… and a list of the things (perennials and annuals) I still want to plant out there.

Here is a picture of me with one of the new urns I planted today. This will fill in beautifully in a few weeks. And be the centerpiece to the formal herb garden. I look pretty glamorous, eh?  Hey gardening is not for wimps! If I was worried about sweat and dirt I wouldn’t be a gardening enthusiast!

So I’m wore out, got a little sun, and had a great workout. I do wish it was a bit cooler but it should cool off by tomorrow. My tulips, forsythias and lilacs are all blooming, the Korean Spice viburnum smell fantastic, and I still have 2 more beds to go through and about 6 more window boxes and containers to plant.
But I’ll get to those eventually. It only gives me time to plot.

The gardens will all be beautiful by Beltane. Which is right on schedule as the Coven is coming over to celebrate Beltane Day in my gardens this year. What will my theme be? Garden Magick!

I hope you get out in your own yard and plant something soon! Create your own little secret garden or a garden of witchery. Go ahead, put some of nature's magick back into your earth religion!

Blessed be, Ellen

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Witch goes to Washington and Upcoming Radio Interviews!

This past weekend I was in Washington DC, for an author event. I had been invited back to Turn the Page Books to sign my new book Practical Protection Magick. The book signing event was a multi-author one so in addition to myself there were two children’s books authors, plus romance writers Erin McCarthy, Carolyn Turgeon and Nora Roberts. It was fun to be back at Turn the Page. Its such a great bookstore and Boonsboro, Maryland is a picture postcard pretty little town.

So I arrived on Friday and was picked up at the airport by Joyce and her husband Jim Taber. Joyce creates the enchanting jewelry designs based on Nora’s books that are for sale at Turn the Page Books. The Tabers were a lot of fun we laughed so much--and they took me all around downtown DC on Friday. Here is a picture of me standing in front of the White House.

Of course I was much more interested in the white magnolias. As we approached the fence I said, “Wow. Its smaller than I thought it would…. Wait, are those white magnolias?” and I dashed over for a closer look which made the security guys and police officers stationed there laugh out loud. Yeah, yeah… I was much more impressed with the blooming trees than the White House. You can see one of them just starting to bloom in the picture above.

So yeah, saw the cherry blossoms blooming- pretty. Saw Washington Monument and noticed right away that it has two different colors of stones. I was impressed by the Lincoln Memorial. Did you know that statue of  Abe was supposedly based on the idea of the old temple of Zeus?

No kidding. The temple of Zeus held a massive ivory or gold statue of him seated on a throne. It was one of the ancient wonders of the world. Anyway the modern statue of Abraham Lincoln is amazing. No matter what or should I say who it was inspired by. Here I am (on the right in the purple coat by old Abe.) It was cool to see it in person.

The Tabers and I also popped into the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Saw the Hope Diamond, checked out the gem and mineral exhibit- wicked cool. I took tons of pictures of the gems and crystals.... and of course the dinosaur bones.

Hit the hotel Friday night and crashed. Got up early on Saturday and drove into Maryland with the Tabers to the bookstore for the signing.
Met up with my friend and fellow author, Jeanne Adams for a cup of tea at a nifty pastry shop called Icing in Boonsboro before the author event.  

 Here we are acting goofy and mugging with each other’s newest books. Also, Jeanne just signed her first contract with Llewellyn for non fiction! So she's a soon to be Llewellyn author--as well as already being an award winning fiction writer! Actually her newest suspense book was the "Red Hot Read" in Cosmospolitan Magazine this April! Check it out!

Then to the Turn the Page Bookstore author event. I was seated next to Nora and her son Jason, who helps out with the signing.  It was a smoothly run, and wonderfully fun event. This is the second time I’ve been there to sign with Nora, and other authors, and its been a great experience both times. I met lots of great fans on Saturday who stood in line to get line tickets, and then waited for hours again. Here is a picture below of Me, Jason and Nora signing away at the event.

To my delight, I was asked to come back to Turn the Page when my next book comes out- next year. So when I find out the release date for book number 13, I’ll contact the store manager Janeen, and we’ll see what we can set up.

Now I’m home and still trying to catch up on things that piled up at an alarming rate while I was gone. Yesterday I booked two radio interviews and a Pod-cast interview for my friend Christopher Penczak’s “Voices of the Temple Series”. I think I’m doing the pod cast thing maybe this week. Note to self: double check date and time with Adam. 

Oh and also booked an interview on the Hex Education show for May 25th. That’s always a fun show to do.
Plus I have another blogtalk radio interview on Friday April 8. Para X Radio. It’s the “Spirited History Internet/ Radio Show”. The hosts are very nice ladies and I’m looking forward to being back on. Here is the link to that one so you can listen in on Friday, APRIL 8TH .  The show is on at 7:00pm EST.

That’s it from here… I think. Blessed be,