Lyreleafs & Cloud Readings

Spring has sprung here in Florida, and with temperatures ranging from the 70’s to the 80’s, it’s been perfect weather for cloud watching and wildcrafting with some of the beauties right here in my yard and garden.

With spring fever behind us and hot days ahead, I’ve grown more and more interested in weather lore and other folk lore isolated to Florida and the Southeast. I have checked out some books on Florida’s climate and general weather patterns, but I want the old folk’s lore of weather and cloud divination.

 

 

I want to learn about the clouds moving overhead, about what those movements mean for my home and garden, my place in the local Land, and about how to perceive outcomes of various garden-related happenings when divined.

I want the magical and mystical workings of rain and clouds and fog. I want to gain and use my knowledge and experience of the weather patterns and learn how to read them with the purpose of divining future energies of all things home and garden.

So what does one do when one is looking for some divine guidance in seeking out the appropriate information about a spiritual topic of interest?

Invite the Ancestors to tea, of course. And a little bit of Lyreleaf Sage goes a long way.

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This sage (Salvia lyrata; other common names include wild sage and cancerweed/cancer root) grows wild in yards, meadows, roadsides ditches, culverts…you pick a spot, and these babies will root there. They’re hardy little herbaceous perennials and readily self-seed and spread like crazy in ideal conditions.

Which is good for me, because hey, if I can use it as an edible and a healer, I sure as hell will! And this little plant is wonderful as a calming tea at 10 o’clock at night, curled up with a good book. The fresh young leaves and blossoms can be used in salads, and have a very light and pleasant minty flavor.

While the Lyreleaf’s medicinal properties don’t pack as much of a punch as other species of salvias, Lyreleaf can be used as a carminative/laxative (a mild tea made for kiddo’s gassy tummy or constipation…hey, it happens), and for relief during cold and flu season. Lyreleaf sage also makes a relieving salve for cuts, sores (warts and zits and boils, oh my!) and minor wounds.

On the spiritual and magical side, sage is also a plant linked with divination, purification, protection, and psychic learning. I’ve come to connect sage’s otherworldly attributes to, well, the other-world. Ancestors can be invited when sage is burned.

Now, traditionally White sage, or Sacred sage (Salvia apiana), is the sage of choice for burning and smudging, but I’ve found that the edible sages work well for these purposes, too. So I decided to harvest and dry my Florida Lyreleaf for tea, as well as a bundle for smudging/incense.

Then we’ll see what we see.

I haven’t used this particular sage in an infusion or for spiritual purposes yet, but am anxious to have it dry so I can get down to business.

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Until then, I’ll keep reading my library books on weather and atmospheric phenomenon, and offer these lovely tidbits on my new friend, Lyreleaf sage:

 

 

 

 

 

[Close-up of Lyreleaf blossom photo: ©Mark Hutchinson for http://www.fnps.org]

Through the Garden Gate

Memories seduce me as I tread upon the moist ground that weaves through these Florida flowers. Music is on my mind, a melody upon my lips, entrancing and requiring an emotion I’m not quite sure of.

The feeling plays over me like a wave, shimmering tears from the corners of my eyes. My Grandmother is gone. One can never be quite prepared, no matter how many years pass. She was ninety-eight. Passed through Death’s door during the Solar eclipse, at a time between the changing to full spring.

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Bittersweet is the only word to describe it. I’d already begun to miss her, as if who she was had already died under the onslaught of dementia several years ago. That time was the time I had already begun to let go.

This final end to biological life is the last puzzle piece. Of course I miss her, but I have missed her, and of course I grieve, but I have grieved.

But I also celebrate.

We are so fleeting, so infinitesimal. Our lives are but fine silk threads that can be snapped, cut off, in a split moment. Even though Death is merely another part of the journey, the conscious life we are given is such a fragile thing. Memories are reminders of this very fact.

The flowers greet me in happy colors, yellows and blues and purples, nodding soft petals and bright foliage in my direction as I step through some of the overgrowth of the trees and shrub of the butterfly garden. Insects of dreamy hues flit from blossom to blossom, reminding me to still myself.

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Meditation beneath the grapefruit tree, surrounded by healing plants, listening to my breath, the breeze, the life. Memories.

We are conduits to our Ancestors. We are conduits to our descendants. But we only have moments. Only moments to live and love and die.

So I still myself. I plop right down and let everything else fade into the distance as I listen to my self, my life force, my mortality. I close my eyes and just be.

And I emerge refreshed, renewed, awakened and ready for my tasks and responsibilities. In the clean air and morning light, when the dew sparkles as brightly upon the fresh growth of ideas as it does on the Florida primrose at my feet, goals are clearer. Purpose is crystal.

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I have my Grandmother to thank for such discipline. To use what she taught me about my sense of self to seek inward reflection and assessment. To look at each beautiful thing and to be thankful to be alive and breathing.

And to always use our fleeting time wisely, in all things pursuing a way to better myself and those around me.

The Garden Plan

Spring is just around the corner, as winter never lasts for too long here in Florida, and as it is, I’ve been daydreaming and somewhat planning my garden for Spring.

The front bed will hold herbs for cooking, crafting, and healing, as well as offerings and ritual use, the side beds will hold FL natives and naturalized plants (some tropicals that I just have fallen in love with), and the back yard, well, that’s another story entirely.

For now I’m contemplating some of these beauties that are FL-friendly and can add to the foundation of a FL-friendly garden/landscape:

Acrostichum danaeifolium
Acrostichum danaeifolium–LEATHER FERN
photo of Callicarpa americana
Callicarpa americana–AMERICAN BEAUTY BERRY
photo of Codiaeum variegatum
Codiaeum variegatum–CROTON
photo of Gamolepis spp.
Gamolepis spp.–BUSH DAISY
photo of Hamamelis virginiana
Hamamelis virginiana–COMMON WITCHHAZEL
photo of Hamelia patens
Hamelia patens–FIREBUSH
photo of Hibiscus spp.
Hibiscus spp.–HIBISCUS (MALLOWS)
photo of Illicium spp.
Illicium spp.–STAR ANISE
photo of Sambucus spp.
Sambucus spp.–ELDERBERRY (SHRUB)
photo of Strelitzia reginae
Strelitzia reginae–BIRD OF PARADISE
photo of Zamia floridana
Zamia floridana–FLORIDA COONTIE (FLORIDA ARROWROOT, FLORIDA ZAMIA)

Some grow slowly, and some more quickly, but I’ve admired these babies at garden centers (where available) and when searching through landscaping pictures on online resources. The bare bones of the yard and my other garden beds will be exposed between now and the middle of February, as I hope to get my fingernails filled with dirt, here, pretty soon.

What FL friendly plants (and natives) are in your gardens if you live here?

Bee-friendly gardens w/ FL native plants

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In light of the tragedy of the 37 million bees found dead in Canada, I wanted to include a little blurb (late though I am) about planting bee-friendly gardens that are composed of FL native plants/flowers.

Keep in mind that bees are going to be attracted to brightly colored flowers that have petals that splay open, exposing pollen and nectar that these insects thrive on. So a good tip as far as flowers are concerned, have a variety of brightly colored blossoms that produce decent amounts of pollen.

Remember that bees are very important to the care-taking of the agricultural industry as well as being the means that most plants/flowers are able to be seeded and spread. Bees also make honey–duh–and in order to prevent harm and to keep the bees hanging around, please, by all means, NO pesticides. Not only do they get into some veggies and herbs (this is why you thoroughly rinse any veggies/fruits/herbs you purchase from the supermarket that aren’t organic), pesticides can be the nemesis of some very garden-friendly and beneficial insects that are those ”good guys” in keeping the true pests at bay alongside maintaining the health of the garden.

A great article provided by Mother Earth News on organic pest control

**Again, bees will be/are great for helping your herbs and fruit/veggies! There are a number of FL native flowers that are also beneficial for companion planting with many fruits and veggies, as well as herbs.**

Five great FL natives to include in your garden/landscaping plans to attract more native bees:

  • Azaleas (Rhododendron genus) such as common, pinxter, and FL flame azaleas, attract butterflies, birds, and bees. These are FL natives(with the exception of some common rhododendron species) and offer a variety of colored blossoms, depending on which species are planted. These plants are perennials.
  • The FL blanket flower/Indian blanket flower (Gaillardia varietiesis a common native found in wildflower patches and in gardens alike. The daisy-shaped flower is perfect for landing bees and they love this flower’s nectar and pollen. This is also a perennial with some species natives, and some not. These little flowers are very hardy, perfect for growing in virtually all regions of FL, from north-central, all the way down to the FL Keys.
  • Milkweed/Butterfly weed (Asclepias spp.) is another beauty that will attract the bees as well as butterflies. Some species are non-natives, but this is another hardy plant that can be grown from north to south FL. Another perennial with flowers perfect for landing bees.
  • Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is not only a FL native completely, it also has medicinal value as well. A great addition to any FL friendly garden, this blossom will attract a variety of wildlife including native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other species of birds as well. This is also a native perennial and hardy in virtually all FL regions.
  • Swamp sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) and beach sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) are both FL natives and perennials. These attract a multitude of species, including birds, butterflies, and bees and are super easy to grow. These spreading flowers are hardy in all FL regions.

I just wanted to include some of my favorite FL native bee-friendly flowers that can be incorporated in your own FL garden. Remember that most flowers that attract butterflies will also attract bees. FL native plants will most of the time be the only source of food for FL native bees, but the native bees may sometimes feed on exotics as well.

Some related blogs that I found useful:

Central Florida Gardener

NE Florida’s Native Bees

FL Native Plant Society

Our Native Bees — a word about this blog, it’s not about FL at all, but there’s some great information regarding bee keeping, attracting native bees to your garden, etc., which follow the same principles for attracting and maintaining a FL native landscape for FL native bees.

Some awesome FL resources for bee friendly landscaping/gardening, info on wildflowers and FL natives, etc.:

FL Friendly Landscaping

UFL’s FL Natives and Landscaping Guides (PDF)

Sarasota Sustainability: FL Native Bee Information (PDF)

Michelle Patterson, St. Lucie Master Gardener (PDF)

Bees of Florida