Witch hazel is one of those plants I’ve always wanted in my yard, but never seem to get around to planting. It’s native to the US (at least some varieties are; this is a cross between a US and a Chinese variety.) and blooms in late winter (even though this year it feels more like spring right now–but I’m not complaining!), when a burst of color is most welcome. And let’s face it, the name is appealing.
I’ve always wanted a witch’s garden, one filled with plants both beneficial and baneful. In a way, I have that now (at least, until the house sale is closed upon; then the new owners will have it 😦 ). It’s filled with Jack-in-the-pulpit, lemon balm, foxglove, Oregon grape holly, lovage and many other herbs, mayapple, rose, bloodroot, trillium, and so much more. The healing and edible, beside the dangerous and potentially deadly. And with some, the effect depends on when and how the plant is used. Mayapple fruit are edible only when perfectly ripe; otherwise, the whole plant is toxic to humans. An important heart medication came from digitalis, but if taken unwisely, the the seeds of the foxglove plant cause heart palpitations.
What has all this to do with writing?
This is what I know and love. This is often what I write. My witches know their herbs; their magic is often herb-based. My forests are filled with mushrooms and creeping undergrowths that scent the air. In other-world fantasy, grounding senses in simple plants, their smells and lore, gives a story a feeling of truth. And in this way, the magic of the everyday world around us can make magic real.