Friday, March 15, 2013

Gothic Gardening (or, In the Midst of Life We Are in Compost)

Scary Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With hemlock flowers, and foxglove towers,
And monkshoods all in a row.

It's getting to be time again for one of my favorite hobbies -- gardening!  Last year, after having to give up my full-sun community garden plot, I finally managed to get permission to make a garden out of the sad little L-shaped area at the back of our ground-floor apartment.  It's surrounded on 1.5 sides by the apartment complex walls, on one side by the laundry room wall, and on one side by a tree, so it's pretty shaded most of the day.  Not at all what I'm used to, but I like trying new things and it's included in the rent, as opposed to $125 extra a year.  It was coming along slowly but nicely, until our cold and almost rainless winter blasted it, followed by the Feral Family using it for a giant litter box.  However, now that spring is (finally) arriving and the last of the Ferals are (hopefully) leaving this weekend, I'm going to attempt to resurrect the plants that I think might have survived, and replace those that definitely didn't. 

So, what do goths like to put in their gardens?  Let me tell you about what I'm putting in mine.

Well, to start with, I've got a tree... a BIG tree.  It's a yellow plum, and in the spring it has the most lovely blossoms that drift lazily down and cover the ground (and my head) with pale pink snow.  In the summer, however, it has cherry tomato-sized plums that ripen and then rain down on my head like hail, requiring that I wear a suit of armor when going out to gather them or clean them up.   I didn't have a choice about this tree, but when it's got leaves it shades a large part of my garden and allows me to be out there while being protected from The Evil Sun, so I'm really big on shade plants now.  Can't have too many popular herbs, unfortunately, as most of those are full-sun lovers.  But we shall see.

I was able to transplant a few things from my old garden into the new one last year, including some paperwhite and grape hyacinth bulbs that I put in pots until I can find just the right spots for them.  In addition, I planted six first-season foxgloves, two in the partial sun area and four in the shade, and they should be ready to flower this year.  One was so excited about being in a garden that it actually DID flower last year; I'm hoping that it will be as enthusiastic this coming year.  I've also recently bought an Oriental poppy plant that's already blooming, and a packet of scarlet poppy seeds.  I'm going to put these in the long bed along the building wall (as soon as I've cleaned out all the cat poop).  It does get partial sun in the mornings, and the primroses and basil I planted last year did pretty well.  I even got an old sunflower seed to bloom!  :-)

Since I can't have many herbs, I'm looking for shade- and semi-shade-loving plants that will flower and make things look lovely.  I'd like to go for a "cultivated wild" look, and am definitely interested in some of the more esoteric herbs and flowering plants.  In addition to the poppies and foxgloves, I've got an (old) packet of belladonna seeds that I'm thinking of trying out.  I really miss my datura plant right about now.  I had it a few years ago, and the flowers were absolutely gorgeous.  Unfortunately, the seeds never sprouted when I planted them later.

I'm also thinking about having some non-plant 'gothy' decor, with maybe an old cemetery feel.

What kinds of plants do you have in your gardens?  Do you have a "gothic" garden, and if so, what kinds of things other than plants do you have in it?


  1. I once tried to grow wormwood, but it's just too shady to grow much of anything around my place. A Gothic garden would be wonderful, but I would also concentrate on some food crops, if I had the space. Onions and bell peppers would be among my first choices. Still, the peppers in particular would need lots of sun, which I don't like working under. So, I'll probably continue to buy them at the local farmer's market.

    1. In my community garden plot, I once grew a HUGE wormwood plant. It was gorgeous, but I really couldn't use it for much. Then I found the undersides of the leaves covered with black aphids; I didn't realize that the ants were farming them, and I was afraid they would spread to the plots around me, so I took it out. I regretted it later, though.

      Unfortunately, my current garden is tiny; I really don't have the space for food crops and, as you say, they require lots of sun, which I don't have, either!

  2. I don't have a garden of my own yet, as I still live with my dad. I do want to have a garden when I've got a place of my own though. I'd fill it with all kinds of wonderful flowers and plants.

    1. I hope you do get one! It's a bit tricky if you live in an apartment; I'm lucky we're on the ground floor and actually DO have one, even though I have to share access to the boiler room. But even then, sometimes you can make one on a balcony, or they'll let you have a bit of space in the back if you ask nicely. Good luck!