Happy Friday the 13th!
From folks believing that plants had magical properties to plant ingredients able to turn lead into gold, to making love potions from flowers - plants and herbs have always captivated the imagination and have been steeped in superstition! The Victorians even used them to communicate!
Fairy rings, garden idioms, and old-wives tales are as deeply rooted in lore as they are in our day-to-day lives! There’s even a science that delves into plant lore and myth! Gardeners tend to create their own superstitions as we go!
Here are a few beliefs from days gone by that still have a foothold in the back of our minds or even our everyday practices - even if they are far from the truth!
It is amazing how much our garden décor was inspired by myths and superstitions!
Nowadays, we know why people get sick, and sometimes our bad luck is our own doing, but folks in the old days didn’t have that kind of scientific knowledge to back up why tragedies happened.
So they came up with some very strange superstitions, customs, and beliefs!
One bad apple spoils the bunch, but it does hold some truth and we can understand why Tomatoes (that are in the nightshade family) were given their bad rap. But knowledge is power and our plant knowledge is growing exponentially every day!
Here at Nature Hills, we don’t believe in a 'bad plant' just a bad location or improper care for that plant. But in the old days, many plants were big no-nos in the garden!
Many plants fell out of fashion due to their bad rap, like Ajuga reptans, also known as Bugle and Baby’s Rattle in German superstitions, which were blamed for house fires should the hapless homeowner allow the flowers to be brought indoors. In reality, Ajuga are fantastic groundcover plants and are super beneficial to bees! No fire extinguishers needed.
And it was long considered unlucky to bring spring flowering Fruit Tree blooms into the home but today we force these scented blooms for winter arrangements. We can understand that if you pick too many blooms you’ll not have as much of a harvest. So back in the old days, you depended on as much fruit as possible to feed yourself and your family! Nowadays, pick as much as you like!
White flowers were largely considered unlucky and harbingers of death, which is strange we use them so widely in weddings and view them as purity now! It goes to show how superstitions shift so quickly throughout the years!
Feng Shui teaches that where an object is placed is as important as what it is, listing Agave and Cactus should both be kept out of the house and the blooms of the Hydrangea brought loneliness. Pothos sucked the good out of the environment and Thorns of Christ plants are best placed outdoors to ward off bad vibes. Creeper plants of any kind do not allow positive energies to enter your home.
Now our houses are full of them since they’re wonderfully easy to grow houseplants and have more good health benefits than bad! It’s really how you care for them that will either suck the life out of them or have them thrive!
Knocking your knuckles on a piece of wood to bring good fortune or ward off bad luck. Celtic cultures believed it woke the spirits inside for help. While in Christianity, 'touching wood' or 'knocking on wood' referred to the wood of the cross.
Stolen plants were thought to grow better than gifted ones (but we’d not recommend it). In the olden days, it was thought that if you received a plant as a gift, don’t thank the gifter for it because that was bad luck! You were supposed to them for the pot or complement the color instead or the plant may die.
Even certain colors were revered or shunned in the garden and home! In the southeastern US, the color Haint Blue protected the home from evil spirits or haints. Painting objects like the ceiling of your porch or shutters this color kept them at bay. Instead, try planting a Jack Frost Brunnera or other blue perennial by your home to ward off bad vibes!
Hang Holly leaves around the house kept evil spirits away and as a charm against house goblins. They were also traditionally thought to protect homes from lightning strikes, the wood was used to control horses and hedgerows protected the home from witches! Just remember to ask permission from the Holly tree before snipping those bright red berries or a branch of their leaves.
We love Holly shrubs and trees, and they look great in winter décor, but all that seems to be quite a stretch of the imagination.
Whether you believe in bad spirits or just bad luck, the key to any great garden is knowing what you are doing, buying quality mature plants, plus having expert advice. There’s a wealth of information at your County Extension Office and, as always, the horticultural staff at Nature Hills Nursery are here to help!
A successful and happy garden isn’t rocket science any more than superstition or luck. Follow these few rules for a successful landscape:
Many feel like they have bad luck and folks back in the golden days must have had a lot of it to blame it all on innocent plants. Really, we believe you won’t have time for bad luck or be in a bad mood any time you are out in the garden! Those with too much drama in their life clearly aren’t gardening enough!
Don’t leave your plant's health up to chance, or blame fairies and evil spirits for failures! The power to have a successful garden is in your hands and Nature Hills will help make sure the garden of your dreams isn’t a thing of folklore!