Tell us a little bit about yourself?
After years of editing magazines in London, I decamped to a smallholding in Herefordshire where I write books and magazine features surrounded by vegetables and chickens. Previous books include ‘The Witch’s Yearbook: spells, stones, tools and rituals for a year of modern magic’, which was also published by David and Charles.
Tell us a bit about your new book?
The Magic of Seeds is a beautifully illustrated guide to 100 plants to grow from seed. These include herbs, wildflowers, vegetables and other plants grown simply for loveliness. Alongside useful instructions, there are snippets of folklore and tradition associated with each seed/plant to enrich the reader’s experience, and stand-alone features on subjects such as drying flowers and making remedies. It will appeal to anyone with an urge to grow plants and watch the wonder of a seed unfurling, whether they are a hedge witch, a grower of herbs or veg, an enthusiastic gardener or simply someone who wants to learn more about the natural world.
What is your favourite project/technique featured?
I really enjoyed writing the section on collecting your own seed. Collecting seed from flowers is an immensely satisfying thing to do in the autumn and helps you appreciate the cycle of nature. It can also save you a lot of money! Shaking the seeds out of the pods and putting them safely into labelled little brown envelopes is a lovely way to spend time.
How do you think you reached this point in your craft?
Years spent in the garden and greenhouse and taking RHS qualifications have taught me the best ways to grow plants from seed. I share what I have learned in the introductory pages. Getting to know the potential of plants as remedies, lotions and potions is an ongoing, fascinating and never-ending process.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Nothing beats looking around other gardens for ideas of what to grow where. Physic and botanical gardens have been especially helpful resources during the research for the book, as well as turning over the dusty pages in herbariums.
What makes up for the challenges?
Some seeds are trickier to grow than others, and may need, for example, a period of cold (stratification) to germinate. These are indicated with an appropriate symbol in the book
What do you think the “Next Big Thing” in your craft will be?
A greater interest in the ‘magical’ properties of plants ie their use in rituals, incense, and the herb garden.
How big a part, if any, does sustainability play in your work?
It underscores everything. Sustainability is at the heart of seed growing. The book encourages readers to grow organically, make compost, garden according to the moon’s cycles, propagate from their own seed, and create their own natural cosmetics, remedies, and aromatics.
Who (dead or alive) would you invite to the perfect Crafting retreat?
Alive: Jekka McVicar would have much to say about herbs. Arthur Parkinson would have plenty of ideas about how to grow plants in containers. Dead: Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd were two garden gurus with unfathomable knowledge.
What advice would you give to your beginner self?
Don’t be disheartened if seeds don’t germinate. Try to understand what went wrong and have another go.
In one word, how would you describe your book?
Pre-order The Magic of Seeds with all good retailers today!