First day of 2021 Season

9 HAWKS graced my commute back to the garden this morning!! The first 4 in pairs: two playing just above the street at about overpass height, and the other two perched in neighboring trees even closer to the ground. Most of the rest were perched high in trees, or flying higher. Our resident hawk was screeching from the bamboo grove here at the garden when we visited C terrace to support the juniper, who’d dived downhill with one of the winter’s heavy snow or ice loads. Unfortunately I don’t know our Maryland species well enough to identify today’s, but every one of them makes my heart leap nonetheless. What a spectacular season opener it’s been!

Snowdrops, hellebores, and Giant Butterbur are blooming or budding all over – we’ll get you some pictures soon!

Today, I wanted to be sure to share our 2020 Annual Report with everyone. This season, you can expect more new offerings for children, an introduction to Botany by plant family series, in-depth with Invasives, and dining with (/on?!) cicadas, as our Herbal Giving, public tours, and volunteer days continue with everyone’s safety in mind. We’re opening our gates to high schoolers needing community service hours (send em our way if you’ve got em!), and you’ll also be hearing more about our initiative to diversify the traditions and lineage-keepers represented in our collection and programming.

Please reach out if you have any questions about upcoming programming, pandemic or other policies, or booking a private tour. We’re currently planning the children’s events, so if you have feedback or requests for what you’d like to see, let us know ASAP!

With warm screeching excitement, we look forward to welcoming you in the garden soon!


Download the whole report here! or below:

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Autumn Tactics

Today’s project: recycling labels for the next generation of annuals.

We’ll be experimenting this year with more fall-sowing than usual, hoping to ease a bit of the springtime crunch by getting some seeds in ahead of the winter.

After washing all the labels we’d already collected, I headed out to sweep the garden for any more. This Eastern Ratsnake and I both stopped short when our paths intersected at the path around the Cancer Plot. I ran to grab my camera and when I came back, the roughly 6ft. long snake was moving fast through Holding Plot and into Aphrodisia.

Continuing my sweep for labels, I noticed this Echinacea blooming, but with the telltale green growths on its face indicating infection with Aster Yellows — a bacterial infection that’s been plaguing our Echinacea since at least last year.

We’ve already pulled over a dozen plants this season, because plants infected with [the phytoplasma(s?) that cause] Aster Yellows do not recover.

Completing my circuit of the garden, I encountered some friends blooming: Tagetes minuta (Southern Cone Marigold, says Wikipedia) native to the southern half of South America, and Saffron Crocus (Crocus sativa), famous as the source of the sublime, expensive spice saffron (threads of which are the stigma and styles of the flower!);

the pond sitting low, due to the long dry spells of late;

and this bright orange fruit startled me into checking on the other tangerines, all of which are still quite behind this early-ripening fallen fruit!

All in all, a lovely day in the garden.

Put me in the mood for a blast from my past: here’s Chicane’s “Autumn Tactics” that I used to listen to back in grad school!

Our remaining events this month are all nearly full but you may be able to snag the last spot for this weekend’s Herbal Giving or Volunteer Day or if you act fast! (Don’t worry though, we’ve got a liiittle bit more of everything on deck for early November: check back for a public tour, Fire Cider workshop, and more Herbal Giving and Volunteer opportunities, to be published soon)

I hope you’re all enjoying this incredible day in this gift of a season!
Thanks for checking in!

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Abundance of August

from the Instagram archives: August 27, 2020
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The Green Farmacy Garden stands in solidarity

June 24, 2020
The Green Farmacy Garden stands in support and solidarity with the recent cultural uprising to defend and uplift Black life. In the weeks since the tragic and unjust killing of George Floyd, recognizing how he along with Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Rashard Brooks, and innumerable other Black Americans have suffered racist violence in this country, our organization has devoted time to discussing our personal experiences, perspectives, and goals in order to cohere an organizational stance and delineate ways to ensure that our work together serves a commitment to justice and cultural equity.
While there are rich traditions of herbal medicine historically and currently used by Black and Indigenous cultures around the world, the systemically racist culture of this country and others has sought to erase, demonize, and in some cases white-wash and re-sell the same traditions that allowed Black and Brown people to survive and thrive under violent systems of colonization and for millenia prior. Additionally, outdoor activities, access to green space, and land ownership are unequally distributed in a pattern reflective of white-dominated culture, making these activities less accessible and less safe for non-white people. Although we are a small piece of the puzzle in this community with only a few employees (who are all white), we are committed and present in our examination of the ways we have been complacent in these issues. We are working to unravel racism, white supremacy, and intersecting systems of oppression and repression within ourselves and our work. As land workers, lifelong students in the natural world, and educators with access to a rich array of resources, we claim our responsibility to share these gifts. We commit to collaboratively exploring ways the resources we steward can support needs and goals of Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and people of other marginalized, oppressed, or forcefully assimilated communities.
Dr. Jim Duke’s legacy is one of inclusion, love, and fierce respect for diverse cultures’ experience with plants, medicine, and healing. We are working towards making The Green Farmacy Garden a place for all to safely experience the joy, wisdom, and interconnection of plants, community, music, science, and nature in a sanctuary of transformational empowerment and healing. To this end, we are implementing the following action steps to instill social justice into our work here:
1. We are opening conversations with members and leaders of groups historically underrepresented in mainstream herbalism about how to better represent their ethnobotanical history at this garden, and are offering space in the garden for people wanting to represent their histories of medicine and survival in a living materia medica.
2. We are launching a spirited effort toward making educational opportunities accessible across distance and financial ability through online opportunities and transportation solutions.
3. We will donate herbs and herbal preparations and services through Mutual Aid networks that benefit marginalized communities, as our resources allow.
4. We will continue exploring and implementing creative ways to increase the revenue of the garden so that funding can be sustainably funnelled into resources and opportunities for the communities who need them.
With love,
The Green Farmacy Garden team
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Hues of June

from the Instagram archives June 26, 2020

The heat of the summer is felt as the rising sun is lengthening. Peaceful energy and organized chaos amidst harmonies of every color essential.
Natives & medicinals & ornamentals all weaving their thread into the tapestry of the garden. Nature ever entangling.
The mating hawk calls & early peppers have given way to the wood frogs & night chorus.
The coy pastels of spring have been shaded into the sultry hues of summer. Deep purples among frilly pinks and vibrant reds. Beckoning the care of pollinators below the bursting of green.
Pond life is stirring and humming, predators & prey rippling together flowing in the same stream.
The gardens and wild places are putting on their best palettes. Adorn the world with your gifts, and add your own brush stroke to the painting.
As the sun warms your soul may the cool breeze kiss your cheeks & the fresh water tickle your toes.
Breathe & Indulge in summer’s comings
with the Green Farmacy Garden team🌿

vibrant native Tradescantia virginiana: spiderwort💜
Oenothera pallida: pale evening primrose
summer pond
view up into the garden from the pond bench
Lithobates clamitans: green frog
Nymphaea, piink waterlily
Asclepia tuberosa, butterflyweed
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Dusk in the Garden

Salix, Pedasitis japonicus, Nigella damascena: varagated willow, butterbur, love-in-a-mist

Ma͏y 31, 2020

from the instagram archives

𝙳𝚞𝚜𝚔 𝚒𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝙶𝚊𝚛𝚍𝚎𝚗

The flighty breeze of spring is moving on in singsong as summer sweeps in.

Salvia officinalis, Valeriana officinalis, & Avena sativa – garden sage, valerian, & milky oats
Avena sativa & Valeriana

We are so looking forward to the bursts & blossoms of high sun summertime.

May the light kiss your shadows and the clouds cool your souls. To the season of abundance

Scutellaria barbata: barbat skullcap
Scutellaria barbata: barbat skullcap
Spigelia marilandica & Valeriana officinalis
variegated willow and mullein about to sun burst

We have been busy bees and are so looking forward to seeing you in the garden soon

Check the ‘Tours and Workshops’ tab at the top of the page for the events calendar!

Warm breeze & honey bees to you dear friends,

*❦A-S & the Green Farmacy Garden team

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Mid Spring Magic

From the Instagram archives: May 20, 2020


The forsythias, early magnolias, hyacinths, & Primulas have made their march o’blooms & set the tune for spring’s ever cycling melodies.

Magnolia liliiflora: lily magnolia
Primula veris: cowslip
Magnolia liliiflora
bluebells & red maples: Mertensia virginica & Acer palmatum
Halesia carolinia: Carolina silverbell

The harmonies of wisteria & peonies, Schisandra & silver bells, are ringing their final notes passing along the symphony.

Wisteria blooms
Wisteria on the vine by the barn
Wisteria harvest

Somewhere in between the Viburnums, Packyra, Geraniums & fleabanes started their arioso weave to complete the round.

Packera aurea: golden ragwort
Geranium maculata: woodland geranium

Each blooming piece playing an essential role, taking their turn to twirl in their thread, unfurling the breathtaking, infinite tapestry they all create together. For the beauty, well being, & soul nourishment of all.

Viburnum waterfall
Viburnum bloom

Cyclical & in harmony, forever the same concert, orchestrated in slightly different tunes to weave a single symphony, arousing the coy joy of spring in all.

Paeonia suffruticosa: tree peony
Paeonia suffruticosa: tree peony
Paeonia offering a pop of pink in the drab beginnings of spring
Geranium maculatum: wild woodland geranium

May we continue to be present, witness the magic, & encompass these lessons from nature as the turns continue…

May Day Pond

We are so looking forward to when we can have volunteers & visitors in the garden again. The garden is longing for the people’s love & admiration, as are we to share it’s magic with you. The urge to pass on plant passion & knowledge is ever a flame, but not so much the urge to sit & type of it; conversation/in-person connection is the favored way to share:). Alas Spring has won the tug-of-urge game, hypnotizing us with its fleeting symphony, whisping us away in whimsy from modern distractions and back to the source. Where nurturing, reciprocity, & gratitude lead the tune. Pruning, seeding, weeding, mulching, & planting have blissfully consumed our time with spring’s ephemeral timelessness. We hope you’re taking time to take in nature’s magic, & maybe give a little back.

Bursting blossoms, spring serenity, & May Day magic to you all💐✨
*❦A-S & the GFG team💚

Aralia and butterbur o’er looking the pond
Hats off to Viola

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Spring’s Simple ReTreat : it’s all here.



*Spring’s Simple ReTreat*

it’s all there



Claytonia virginica : spring beauty


We just passed the breathtaking tipping point. The beautiful balance between light and dark before the lengthening days take full stride. The vernal equinox is a time of vibrant beginnings and energized awakenings. Time for deep connection of distant rememberings. Disconnecting to reconnect, letting the faded blooms decay to nourish new life. The new growth sprinkling the landscape with gems of colorful renewal. Coaxing curiosity with breeze kisses to wander into the woods, dip your toes in, and saunter through the serene. It is joyful and colorful; coy and exuberant.


In many ancient cultures & traditions still remembered today, it has long been the beginning of spring by this turning point. Our region seems to be reflecting that quite beautifully this year with perennials barely hibernating & early bursts of blooms abound amidst historically cold times.


Magnolia liliiflora : lily magnolia : with forsythia accent

Spring is alive amidst the fog and haze. Sure as new growth and life and death and decay. Just as the night ever overcomes, so does the long light always return. And then again retreat. But only after becoming suspended in balance, in Between.


Prunus pendula : woodside edged weeping cherry blossoms

Prunus pendula: dainty wild weeping cherry just sprinklin’ into bloom edging the driveway<3*

And then back in the flow again. No such time or date or balance. Always moving in this state and that, ever spiraling, changing, growing, fading. Nature, the season, and the cycles, all of Life, in an open-ended dance and endless unfolding. Weaving and twisting, separating and individualizing. Dancing and harmonizing and twisting… No constants or usual ‘normals’, simply steadily free flowing. Adapting and becoming, resilient and reserved. Brewing, executing, and observing all at once. The light, dark, above, below, within, without, between. It’s all there.

*.yellow hues of forsythia, celandine and narcissus illuminating moody spring tones

{{ does the light seem brighter in the dark? }} . *.yellow hues of forsythia, celandine and narcissus illuminating moody spring tunes.* .

We just passed the breathtaking tipping point. The beautiful balance between light and dark before the lengthening days take full stride. The vernal equinox is a time of vibrant beginnings and energized awakenings. Coaxing you with breeze kisses to wander into the woods, dip your toes in, and saunter through the serene. It is joyful and colorful; coy and exuberant.


The moss-green pond skirted by butterbur hill, hugged by Magnolia grandiflora, wisped by forsythia, and backed by hellebore holler… stunning spring sight <*3


It’s the mist blanketing the sunrise, blurring the turning of immeasurable time. It’s the earth breathing with life, bubbling with mysteries, weaving white thread-less. It’s the symphony of early risers and late peepers, the morning phoebe call hopping a wobbled balance tune. It’s the natural pruning of spent stalks & heavy branches with the tender charm of the spring breeze. The broken, seasoned bits making way for new light to warm the depths. The careful selecting growth in gratitude for all of earth’s gifts and ethereal blessings. Blissful presence cultivated from the memories of passed seasons lovings and lessons. The next cycle nourished by the healing of before, wounds grow to woven knowns. It’s all there.


Anemone blanda : woodland windflower : a fitting name for a welcome timely beauty in this cloudy winds-of-seasons-change time

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?


It’s the forsythia glistening in the morning sun, dancing with life. It’s the call of the wood frogs, strong and keen and resting in the shadows. It’s the sweet, alluring scent on the changing breeze, dipping just in and out of reach, from the hyacinth, the lilac, sweet violets, the wild cherry, the… It’s the faint buzz of the drowsy first pollinators bumbling beneath the undergrow, calling & curiosity blazing the way. The flowers like flames to a yellow coal, nourishing and pleasurable.


flaming Forsythia suspensa spring flags


It’s the soft fuzz of bud cover bursting gently at the crossroads, the blossoms finally breathing free. It’s the primal call of the hawk circling the waves, just out of sight and always in reach. It’s ancient pairings and new beginnings guiding through deep bone knowing. It’s the tingle of fresh, excited nettles waking you the last final bit from your deep slumber, welcoming you in. It’s the coy, playful bloodroots winking at you among the leafall, beckoning you to come seekcloser.

It’s the cackle of the wild turkeys joyful in the frolic. It’s the branches bearing to the weight and the earth catching the fall. It’s the kill, and spent parts, and past leaves feeding the next. Its the pruning of the old to nourish a’new. Its birds and fox and frogs fading and mating and renewing life. It’s the peeper harmonies in the evening, lulling you to ease. It’s gentle and sure and playful and persistent. Life and death, light and dark, rememberings and new beginnings. Coaxing you to distance closer and rediscover your neighbor. Uncover the truth and remember you.


fiddleheads in the forest


Following the worn paths until unknown ones are made… surprising what leads where. That’s the only way light can pass through the breaks of dark, dawn, routine & sleep; the balance of Being & Flowing. You gotta get down in the dirt to find the new growth; dance up through the dark to find the new light {life}


The woodland bridge crossing Grandpa’s Creek at the Yang trail… there’s new wildflower bulbs planted below the trees framing the bridge…

Ordinarily I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.
-How I go to the woods, Mary Oliver


Jim Duke’s chair over looking Margo’s creek surrounded by snowdrop scircle


Nature is whole and yet never finished.

We are of Nature.



Take a peek into the creek or down the woodland path and see what finds you. Oh the treasures we find when we don’t even try. Does the light seem brighter in the dark? May you get lost in the woods to find your self. Your peace. Your place. You can only see the magic if you look. The answers, the questions, the mysteries the curiosities. The present. Its all there.



vibrant Salvia rosmarinus, rosemary flowers backdropped by Forsythia


Colorful chaos amidst overcast benevolence births moody mornings transformed to warm sunny afternoons.

The new days light piercing through the foggy overlay, brightening to the birdsong harmonies.

The evening showers soothe the nerves lulled to ease by the peeper melodies.

New growth stirs underfoot & simultaneously bursting through the dank soul,

Ripe with new energy and fresh beginnings, burrowed deep in fallow soil & nourished by mysteries.

Pastels and neons and coy shades of spring dapple the fields & woodlands welcoming curiosities.


A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;

And give us not to think so far away

As the uncertain harvest; keep us her

All simply in the springn of the year


Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard chite,

Like nothings else by day, like ghosts by night;

And make us happy in the happy bee,

The swarm filating round the perfect trees.


And make us happy in the darting bird

That suddenly above the bees is heard,

The metoer that thrusts in with needle bill,

And off a blossom in id-air stands still.


For this is lobe and nothing else is love,

The which it is reserved for (so) above

To sanctify to what far ends {it} will,

But which it only needs that we fulfill.

-Robert Frost



SIlybum marianum : milk thistle, tonifying liver elixir


Fulfill your heart. Your joy. Your mind. Your gratitude. Your curiosity. Your presence. Your soul. This season, all seasons, every season. Take it day by day and see what unfolds. Ever growing and spiraling, weaving new quilts with past threads. Remember to love, explore, breathe, wonder and play. Delight in the beauty and magic that surrounds us. That we’re a part of. It’s all around you. Go out and enjoy it. It’s all waiting for you there.



*Oxalis stricta : tasty yellow wood sorrel.* .it’s all there.if only you look*




dainty woodland Puschkinia scilloides : striped squill, hiding in the forest underleaf as springtime gems…

Who made the day?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean —
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die, at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

~The Summer Day, Mary Oliver




Narcissus pseudonarcissus : Daffodil


We hope to see you in the Garden!

::.*~> <3*.::}
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Signs of Spring: Hellebores

The many faces (phases), & stories of Helleborus‘;

a gallery…*


Helleborus niger / orientalis
lenten rose, christmas rose
The Helleborus’ winter blooms had to be paid their proper breathtakingly due respect, before welcoming the colorful energy in the becoming of spring. These striking & modest shade hidden blooms carpet the woodland edge with their bright & moody bounty.

The hellebores have been blooming for over a month now beyond the Green Farmacy pond, blanketing the woodland edge below the hill, and lining the trails leading in. They’ve been coaxing us since the wee whisperings of spring upon the winter wind, easing us into the exploration & curiosity of the next season. Their mystic standstill of time leading to hidden hints, unveiling in the shadows of the woodland and garden.
At the Green Farmacy Garden the pond is down at the bottom of the hill beyond the terraces, and below the water is where the hellebores, snow drops, then crocuses first peak up their heads, hinting to spring & welcoming us to emerge.
Walking down the delicate skeleton-lined garden levels, last autumn’s stalks rustle in the spring breeze & past seeds sprinkle the paths. Present Rejoicing in the cycles o the natural life unfolding   below, above, here & beyond. Changes Reminding us that there’s always life growing and budding infinitely.

Hellebores are of the family Ranunculaceae, from the Latin ranunculus, meaning little frog. They are aptly named, for much of this family, including the hellebores, prefer to grow in moist places near springs, wet meadows, or shaded woods, where frogs also love to be. It seems that these plants can hardly wait for spring to come, along with their amphibian kin, as they chorus at the first sign of a spring breeze.
They originated throughout Europe from Germany to the Alps of norther Italy to the south, as well as Greece and Asia minor, with the greatest concentration of species occurring in the Balkans. They are hardy in USDA zones 4-8b.

Helleborus will grow in any well-drained garden soil and is extremely shade tolerant. It is great for under plantings around shrubs and troublesome shady spots in the garden. Seedlings can be directly sowed or started indoors and transplanted no later than their second year. Sometimes it takes a few years for flowers to appear. Be patient and your hellebore will bloom by its third year. Divide as necessary in mid to late summer once the rootstock is big enough to be cut.

Hellebore can be extremely poisonous. It is best to wear gloves when working with it to avoid absorption through the skin. Wear gloves while harvesting. Harvest hellebore just after it blooms, on a moonless night, if you want to get fancy. Hang to dry and store in a sealed container away from moisture and light. Here at the Green Farmacy the Helleborus’ have taken their fill of the moist forest border beyond the pond and are well and happy spreading to their roots’ content.


The gorgeous flowers bloom from midwinter to spring. They are a mystical perennial lining the woodland border paths below the pond here at The Green Farmacy. One cain’t help but to imagine a joyful nudge to get into the sludge from ol’ Jim, a lover and harmonizer of the frogs of all kinds -er the southern rainforest and northern lily ponds alike.


Helleborus‘ offer breathtaking winter foliage of large pedate-parted leaves, reminiscent of many-fingered hands. They grow 8-14 inches tall, with striking flowers 2 or 3 inches large, with 5 petal-like sepals. The sepals surround a ring of cup-like nectaries, teeny yellow petals modified to hold precious nectar.
The flowers here at the Garden bloom in an array of deep mauves, carmines, blush pinks, piercing whites, & rose speckled cream. They love a delightfully dank & shady place, among shrubbery friends sprawled under woodlands. Once established the plant cares for itself.  For this reason it was traditionally planted above graves in Europe.  The petals catch the moonlight giving them an exquisite ghostly glow.
Though it resembles members of the rose family, Helleborus is part of the buttercup family. These two families are very similar in appearance but they have an important difference. Most members of the rose family are edible, or at least harmless. Most members of the buttercup family are poisonous, or at least mildly toxic.

All parts of Helleborus are said to be toxic… It contains, mainly in its rootstock, the burning, acrid-tasting narcotic, helleborine, an active cardiac poison. The horrible taste makes it difficult for one to unintentionally consume enough of the plant to be lethal, usually resulting in it being spit out before its intense purgative effects set in. Helleborcin is another toxin within the plant that has a sweet sort of taste, acting similar the highly active cardiac poisons found in Digitalis (Foxglove).
Poisoning by this plant causes tinnitus, vertigo, stupor, and thirst.  It also includes a feeling of suffocation, swelling of the tongue and throat, followed by violent emesis (vomiting) and a slowing of the heart rate until it causes death by cardiac arrest.  It will also burn the eyes and irritate the skin when in direct content with the juice of the plant, including contact with bruised leaves.  Chemically it is related to the venom found in certain toad skin.

To me, snowdrops and hellebores blooming in unison at the beginning of February, in their distinct divine duality, represent the harmony of light & dark dancing, balancing, & weaving together.
snowdrops and hellebore
Upon their arrival & first blooms together at the time of Imbolc or Candlemass, when the northern hemisphere is feverishly wondering if spring’s step will be quickened or Winters blanket will linger. And now, a moonth cycle and phase later, the blooms are still persisting forth welcoming the next ephemeral phase. The dark isn’t always what it seems, for the stars without couldn’t be seen. The shadow isn’t something to fear, for the light keeps us humble & clear.
We hope to see you in the Garden this season!🌿✨

Hellebore Lore

considered a baneful herb; bane=that which destroys life.
“Ordinary” plants have a normal yearly development. They bud in the spring, grow vigorously into the summer, and climax in making fruit and seed in the fall.  Then the next year, the cycle starts again-a faithful mirroring of the dynamic interaction of earth and sun in the yearly cycle. Most poisonous plants fall out of this cycle. Their habitus is unusual and bizarre. The Christmas rose, (Helleborus niger) blooms atypically in the dead of winter.
Another name- christe herbe; In Christian plant lore, this dark herb was ironically seen as a symbol of innocence.  It was considered holy and able to ward off evil spirits.  According to their mythology the christmas rose grew from the tears of an empty handed shepherdess girl in the presence of the christ child, for which she had no gift. Where her tears dropped, the first hellebores grew.
The genus is an ancient Greek name for the plant comes from elein, meaning “to injure” and bora, meaning “food”, alluding to the plant’s poisonous nature.The entire plant is poionous.

Melampodium, an old name for Hellebore, refers to the ancient physician Melampus who used Hellebore to cure the daughters of the king of Argos of the madness of the maenads. These women were the much feared worshippers of Dionysus who were known for their ecstatic frenzies they would achieve during worship.  Whether she was actually mad, or just an independent woman worshipping with others like her is unknown.


Viktoriya Danileyko


Some have speculated the Alexander the Great died of Hellebore poisoning while being treated for an illness. Meanwhile it was said to have been a common prescription of Hippocrates for insanity and mania. In medieval medicine it was used to cure demonic possession, madness and epilepsy.  At that time these ailments would have been looked at as one in the same.  The powdered roots and leaves would be smoldered to calm one already in a frenzy. It had a reputation for its connection to madness and mental deterioration, supposedly creating a catatonic like state in those suffering the madness of maenads, however in healthy individuals it would induce similar symptoms, which could speak to its homeopathic like uses.

Both the green and black hellebores were used in incense to cause frenzy. Witches did not use such incense, but mischievous sorcerers and magicians were said to introduce a bit of this herb into the censers during church ceremonies and stand outside, waiting for the congregation to turn violent and unruly. This was a typical magical joke of centuries ago. It was also used in exorcism and countermagic incenses, and the fresh herb was pressed against the forehead to stop headache. Grecian witches faced east and cursed while cutting it.
In addition, Hellebore was used in the flying ointments, those made to induce astral projection. The root of black hellebore, when powdered and scattered on the ground, was thought to make one invisible. An interesting piece of French lore, mentioned by marvelous Mrs. M. Grieve, is about a sorcerer who utilized its powers of invisibility to move about unseen through enemy lines, by throwing the powdered plant in the air about himself. One wonders if the powder would burn and blind the eyes when throw into view.
Hellebore is associated with Mars and Saturn and corresponds to the element of water. Paracelsus picked the leaves of one of his very favorites, the Christmas rose (black hellebore; Helleborus niger), a Saturnian plant that rouses the “black bile”, on Saturdays at sunset when Saturn was in a good house and preferably high in the sky. It is used in magic & energy work for healing of mental/emotional afflictions and for banishing and exorcisms.
It has also been used for increasing intelligence and ancient magicians also used hellebore to change the nature of other plants, to make their fruits have various unpleasant and unhealthy properties by either grafting the plants together or using hellebore as fertilizer.
This is a baneful herb that should never be ingested and you should wear gloves when handling it. For magical purposes, roses can be substituted for hellebore.
Black hellebore (Helleborus niger) was used as the universal purge, and white hellebore (Veratrum album) was the universal emetic.
Hellebores have been connected with rebirth and gaining intelligence through spiritual means.  If there was a poisonous plant that most closely reflected the nature of the medieval magician and his machinations, it would be Helleborus. Similar in the was that Deadly Nightshade has connections with the witches of medieval folklore, hellebore seems to be the perfect male counterpart to this concept.


*creator of soul-stirring beauty… if you know please do share<3

1:The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners: Wolf D. Storl  2:Treasury of Gardening  3:Magical Herbalism: Scott Cunningham  4:; 5:


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Signs of Spring: Snowdrops

s underneath snowdrops


“… And thus the snowdrop, like the bow
That spans the cloudy sky,
Becomes a symbol whence we know
That brighter days are nigh; …”

‘Origin of the snowdrop’ –George Wilson

s group rainy snowdrops

Galanthus nivalis

Snowdrop; Fair Maid of February; Bulbous Violet

The snowdrops bloomed last Sunday February 2, right in tune with Imbolc/Candlemass – the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox – heralding the celebration of spring’s soon return. Accompanied by the hellebores, snowdrops are the first flowers to bloom here at The Green Farmacy Garden after most of winter is behind us, announcing that spring is right around the corner. Their iridescent gems dapple the woods behind the pond and down the trail beyond the old shed, coaxing exploration and enjoyment. They encircle Jim Duke’s old chair down by the woods stream in a verdant embrace adorned in light drops; a solitary place of hopeful contemplation and content.

spsilly circle jims chair N snowdrops

snowdrops encircling Jim’s chair by the stream

It’s an amazement how their dainty, delicate stems are strong and persistent enough to push up through the frozen ground and pierce the layers of leaves to bless us with their simple beauty. It’s no wonder the snowdrops have been revered as a sign of hope, patience, and endurance by many cultures around the world for centuries. They are also spoken of as shy, humble flowers, as signified by their drooping blossoms. This posture has come to be realized as an attribute to keep the dusty pollen dry and protected from the winds, rains and snows of February. As there are few insects awake to help pollinate this time of year, the bowing heads of snowdrops are also to ensure their soft scent stays sweet and detectable.

This snowdrop’s botanical name is Galanthus nivalis. The Greek ‘gala’ is the word for ‘milk’ and ‘anthos’ the word for flower, while ‘nivalis’ is Latin for ‘snowy/growing in or near snow’. Thus Galanthus nivalis can be poetically translated to “milkflower of the snow”. The Welsh name for snowdrops is Eirlys meaning ‘snow lily’. Galanthus nivalis are native to the mountainous alpine regions of mainland Europe and Southwest Asia, where the winters are cold and harsh. The quaint flowers favor shady, moist areas such as woodlands. Snowdrops are perennial bulbs of the family Amaryllidaceae hardy in USDA zones 3-7. The Amaryllidaceae family is, aptly named, the Amaryllis family, of which members are typically perennial plants that resprout yearly from their underground bulbs. Daffodils, onions, and lilies are also members of this family. There are 15 species of the genus Galathus, 2 of which have naturalized in (mostly) north eastern United States- Galanthus nivalis and Galanthus elwesii. Galanthus bulbs grow in compact masses of shiny green, pointed leaves, well adapted to pierce through moist leaves and snow layers. Each mass of thin, arrow-like leaves protects a single stem topped with one flower. Snowdrop flowers stay open a long time, stretching their petals ever wider with each passing day.


snowdrop clusters   sfirst snowdrops


At The Green Farmacy Garden, Galanthus nivalis can be found in the Alzheimer’s plot. The alkaloid galantamine was first isolated from Galanthus and has been used to treat Alzheimer’s, neuritis, and neuralgia. Galantamine has been found to help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter necessary for healthy brain function and memory. This theory that the breakdown of acetylcholine is the cause of Alzheimer’s was the prevailing thought when the garden was founded over 20 years ago. While new theories have developed since this time, the exact cause of Alzheimer’s is still unknown. Though the isolated alkaloid of Galanthus is made into pharmaceutical medicine, all parts of Galanthus nivalis are toxic and poisonous to eat.

Despite their raw toxicity, snowdrops have been cherished by our ancestors for their symbolism of hope, endurance, persistence, and the lengthening of daylight. A potent reminder that beauty is just as healing and nourishing as medicine herbs and food. Taking time to be still, observe, and be held in wonderment humbles and fuels our souls with hope.

She calls up the first snowdrop_Outhwaite

‘She calls up the first snowdrop’ : Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

“Welcome, welcome!” sang and sounded every ray, and the Flower lifted itself up over the snow into the brighter world.
The Sunbeams caressed and kissed it, so that it opened altogether, white as snow, and ornamented with green stripes.
It bent its head in joy and humility.

“Beautiful Flower!” said the Sunbeams, “how graceful and delicate you are!
You are the first, you are the only one!
You are our love! You are the bell that rings out for summer, beautiful summer, over country and town.
All the snow will melt; the cold winds will be driven away; we shall rule; all will become green, and then you will have companions, syringas, laburnums, and roses;
but you are the first, so graceful, so delicate!”

-excerpt from ‘The Snowdrop’ by Hans Christian Anderson


s underneath 'sunny' dewy snowdrops


The following is an ancient German tale that speaks to the graciousness of snowdrops:

“At the beginning of all things when life was new, the Snow sought to borrow a colour. The flowers were much admired by all the elements but they guarded their colour’s jealously and when the Snow pleaded with them, they turned their backs in contempt for they believed the Snow cold and unpleasant. The tiny humble snowdrops took pity on the Snow for none of the other flowers had shown it any kindness and so they came forth and offered up to the Snow their colour.

The Snow gratefully accepted and became white forevermore, just like the Snowdrops. In its gratitude, the Snow permitted the little pearly flowers the protection to appear in winter, to be impervious to the ice and bitter chill. From then on, the Snow and the Snowdrops coexisted side by side as friends.”

A little kindness goes a long way. Take care of me I’ll take care of you. It takes a village.

s group rainy snowdrops2

“Alluding to the colour of the flowers.
The snow-drop, Winter’s timid child,
Awakes to life bedew’d with tears;
And flings around its fragrance mild,
And where no rival flowrets bloom,
Amidst the bare andd chilling gloom,
A beauteous gem appears!”

–The Language of Flowers (1839)

s bedew'd snowdrops


The snowdrops also appear in a Christian tale of creation that Scottish poet George Wilson depicted in his poem “Origin of the snowdrop”. The tale starts as Adam and Eve hold hands in tearful shame walking away from Eden after they are exiled. The snows start swirling around them nipping their extremities with frost. An Angel appears feeling sorry for them, and with the freshly fallen snow cupped in hand, The Angel breathes upon it and the first snowdrop flowers were born. The Angel offers the dainty pearly blossoms to Adam and Eve as a sign of hope, endurance, persistence, and humility for their kind into the world beyond. Below is George Wilson’s retelling of this tale:

Origin of the snowdrop

No fading flowers in Eden grew,

Nor Autumn’s withering spread 

Among the trees a browner hue, 

To show the leaves were dead; 


But through the groves and shady dells, 

Waving their bright immortal bells, 

Were amaranths and asphodels, 

Undying in a place that knew 

A golden age the whole year through. 


But when the angel’s fiery brands, 

Guarding the eastern gate, 

Told of a broken law’s commands, 

And agonies that came too late; 


With longing, lingering wish to stay, 

And many a fond but vain delay 

That could not wile her grief away, 

Eve wandered aimless o’er a world 

On which the wrath of God was hurled. 


Then came the Spring’s capricious smile, 

And Summer sunlight warmed the air, 

And Autumn’s riches served a while 

To hide the curse that lingered there;


Till o’er the once untroubled sky 

Quick driven clouds began to fly, 

And moaning zephyrs ceased to sigh, 

When Winter’s storms in fury burst 

Upon a world indeed accurst, 


And when at last the driving snow, 

A strange, ill-omened sight, 

Came whitening all the plains below, 

To trembling Eve it seemed affright 


With shivering cold and terror bowed 

As if each fleecy vapour cloud 

Were falling as a snowy shroud, 

To form a close enwrapping pall 

For Earth’s untimeous funeral. 


Then all her faith and gladness fled, 

And, nothing left but black despair. 

Eve madly wished she had been dead, 

Or never born a pilgrim there. 


But, as she wept, an angel bent 

His way adown the firmament, 

And, on a task of mercy sent, 

He raised her up, and bade her cheer 

Her drooping heart, and banish fear; 


And catching, as he gently spake, 

A flake of falling snow, 

He breathed on it, and bade it take 

A form and bud and blow; 


And ere the flake had reached the earth, 

Eve smiled upon the beauteous birth, 

That seemed, amid the general dearth 

Of living things, a greater prize 

Than all her flowers in Paradise. 


“This is an earnest, Eve, to thee,” 

The glorious angel said, 

“That sun and Summer soon shall be; 


And though the leaves seem dead, 

Yet once again the smiling Spring, 

With wooing winds, shall swiftly bring 

New life to every sleeping thing; 

Until they wake, and make the scene 

Look fresh again, and gaily green.” 


The angel’s mission being ended, 

Up to Heaven he flew; 

But where he first descended, 

And where he bade the earth adieu, 

A ring of snowdrops formed a posy 

Of pallid flowers, whose leaves, unrosy, 

Waved like a winged argosy, 

Whose climbing masts above the sea, 

Spread fluttering sail and streamer free. 


And thus the snowdrop, like the bow 

That spans the cloudy sky. 

Becomes a symbol whence we know 

That brighter days are nigh; 


That circling seasons, in a race 

That knows no lagging, lingering pace, 

Shall each the other nimbly chase, 

Till Time’s departing final day 

Sweep snowdrops and the world away.

George Wilson (1818–59)


s under moody snowdrops


A short fairy tale

How the Snowdrops Came

Fairies are never allowed to stray out of Fairyland during the winter-time. But when spring comes they may dance and play in the woods and meadows of the earth as long as they please, and at night they may sleep out in the wood, curled up in a bluebell or a buttercup.

There was once a fairy called Silver Wing, who grew tired of waiting for the spring-time. One day early in February she whispered a secret to her playmates.

She was going to run away from Fairyland and see what the earth looked like in winter-time. Her little friends said it would be great fun to go with her. As soon as supper was over the naughty little fairies slipped away in the dusk until they came to the first wood outside Fairyland. For a long time they played there, looking very gay and pretty in their green silk frocks and white bonnets. But at last they crept into a bed of ivy leaves and went to sleep.

When they awoke in the morning the ground was covered with soft snow, and a man whose coat was trimmed with hoar-frost, and whose cap had a border of glistening icicles, stood before them.

The little fairies all felt quite frightened when they saw him. They trembled so that even their teeth chattered, for they knew that he was jack frost, and he was stern.

“I don’t allow fairies to come here during the winter-time.” he said angrily.  “Why couldn’t you keep away until ‘Bluebell-time’?”

To punish them for their naughtiness he turned them into flowers and kept them prisoners for three weeks and a day.

Then he allowed them to go home; but every February they have to return for a few weeks, and the children of the earth call them snowdrops.

from “Land of the Happy Hours” by Stella Mead
– first pub: James Nisbet & Co. Ltd  1929

He was Jack Frost_Jacobs

-Helen Jacobs



spsilly circle snowdrops2



s underneath snowdrops

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