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I’ve grown old but I’ve never forget the exquisite taste of the fairy tales. There are many motives, hear some of them…The mystery that accompanies the fairy tale, its origins, and the invariability of functions (such mystery that still exists today despite a very thorough study), enhances, in my opinion, the charm of fairy tales, perhaps especially for the adult reader, who is aware of the stratification that shines through these simple stories and is able to capture all the nuances of these narratives. A child can learn moral values, can get inspiration for his own imagination and have great fun rediscovering an old pleasure, to hear the elders of the family to tell these stories. An adult reader can instead focus on symbolic and hidden meanings of fairy tales, and so reclaim the baggage of ancient legends, common to all humanity. This is actually the most striking thing in the comparison between the collections of folk tales: the extraordinary similarity of issues and actions, as if the fairy tales were created at a time when geographical distances and national borders or ethnic groups did not exist. As everyone knows, the brothers Grimm (to whom we owe one of the finest collections of fairy tales of the eight hundred century), were, first of all, two extremely precise and noticed philologists. To proceed to the transcription of the stories, they had to visit the farthest corners of the German countryside, trying to be told by the elders, the only repositories of an ancient memory and a knowledge exclusively oral, these tales, commonly called fairy tales. In fact, originally, these were not stories for children, but the misunderstanding arose from the fact that these stories were told by the elders around the fire on winter nights, and the listeners were mostly children. The Brothers  Grimm were impressed by the fact that the elderly narrators repeated their tales always with the same words, idioms, expressions and even gestures, like in a ritual, that the sacredness of the text not allowed to alter. This makes us understand how, for these elders, who told their stories to the two philologists brothers in order to transform such knowledge from oral to written, these tales and legends were as the basis of the human memory. The mere fact that, in the nineteenth century, still existed in the civilized Germany, the cradle of Romanticism (very important factor), an exclusively oral culture, never written down and never appeared in written texts, but handed down from generation to generation, is a fact worthy of great consideration. In fact, even today, I think that my grandmother knew the same stories that I know and the same fairy tales that my grandchildren in turn will listen: is inherent in the profound nature of the fairy tale’s character to be as a chain to tie together the memory of the past and future generations, by means of undying and magic symbols.

 Another particularly interesting thing, as reported by two brothers, is that very often, even the elderly narrators did not understood, sometimes, the deep meaning of what they were telling. This, together with the constant repetition and precise details and forms of the tales, leads to the conclusion that the origin of the tale is ancient and mysterious, that the magical tales, whose heroes are princes and princesses, but also animals and fairies or witches or ogres, all having supernatural powers, are a phenomenon that dates back to the prehistory of mankind. The word “fairy tale” (from the Latin “fabula”) conjures a magical and mysterious world, where spells and magic are common, everyday, and that almost always means that you accept the strangest things that happen, without asking why or without being verily surprised by them. A fairy tale is a complete unit, with a hero and a happy ending: these are the universal characters, common to all the tales of the Brothers Grimm’s collection. The evolving story of the hero follows a trend opposite to that of the tragic hero: in the beginning, the protagonist has a very low social status, is despised by all and mocked for his lack of skills and talent, or it is a princess very unhappy and solitary, unloved by their parents or targeting ominous wedding. In any case, the protagonist, at the beginning of the tale, is always in very disadvantageous conditions and everyone expects that his/her destiny is already sealed or expects his/her complete failure or even a terrible death.

Though in the end the hero always triumphs, his route to complete victory is not without struggles, in which is always questioned his final success, as are opposed to him, not only natural difficulties (such as icebergs or barriers of flames), but also supernatural powers, like witches and wizards, evil men and ultimately human characters who hate him or threaten him, as stepmothers, jealous brothers etc. In many cases it is certain that the hero would fail the test, but he is helped by good and very great powers, which give instructions to him on how to resolve his tests or even they carry out actions that the protagonist would not be able to do by his only efforts. In addition to his own ability, then the hero always needs the help of luck. This aid, however, is not accidental nor fortuitous: it depends on his good character and his actions. The tale ends with the triumph of justice, the so-called happy ending: not only the good ones are rewarded, but also the bad ones suffer just punishment for their misdeeds. Surely, this is one of the features that make these stories popular among children: even though the fascination of fear plays an important role, the children are aware that in every story, at the end, the good fairy will help the princess, the young hero will defeat all his enemies and all will live happily forever. Probably this is also one of the reasons why adults do not get tired reading stories to their children: after all, it’s nice to imagine a world where justice will prevail and the good is always victorious. This constant “happy ending” that characterizes all of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales is, in a sense, the common basis of all folktales, worldwide. In all, the main character, good and helpless, after being the victim of a  stronger and more fierce opponent, often with great magical powers, escapes the dangers and oppression of his pursuer and won the prize of his nobility, generosity, truthfulness and justice. Above all, the clearest proof of how the fairy tales have ancient origins, it is the brief analysis of a famous fairy tale from the collection by the Brothers Grimm. There is certainly a deep relationship that binds the narrative of fairy tales with epic and chivalrous poems, and this relationship is still very mysterious, for the moment, one cannot say for sure that fairy tales are derived from the chivalric epic and medieval courts, but one can certainly assert their undoubted kinship. This, to me, is one of the most fascinating aspects of fairy tales, that provide endless material for thought for the scholars and, at the same time, entertain adults and children.

Read the article about the tale “The two brothers”:

http://hubpages.com/hub/The-charm-of-fairy-tales-an-introduction-to-the-Brother-Grimms-work-part-two

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Here is a species in which we can find many varieties, all equally beautiful and delicate;
personally, I love greatly the waterlilies and, if not against the most elementary rules of garden design, I would cover the entire surface of a lake, large or small, with these incredible flowers. As you know, the waterlilies can grow in conditions of high, medium and low deep of the water, but care must be taken to choose the right model of flower, suitable for each situation. All waterlilies have floating leaves and the flowers are all of great beauty and charm, closely resembling the lotus of the East regions. I love greatly the water plants, they are so incredible: most terrestrial plants cannot tolerate having their roots submerged in wet soil or in water, but, for these water plants, these conditions are beneficial, even vital, to their survival. The waterlilies have a wide range of colors, shapes and fragrances, they bloom from the early summer until the first frosts of winter, creating very pleasant spots of colorful flowers, floating gently on the water surface. The hardy waterlilies can survive a cold winter climate, their only requirement is that they must be protected from a hard freeze during winter. All waterlilies are day blooming, their flowers open in the early morning and then close in mid to late afternoon.

All waterlilies are widely used for decoration of garden ponds and, in my opinion, there are really necessary to create a water garden of great charm and grace. Most are white or pink, though a few are reddish in color, certain species are very small, miniature even, but others are very large and can be so rampant as to overtake a natural pond in few years. Some waterlilies even change color as the flower ages: most of these blossoms start light yellow, mature to a reddish-orange over the next few days and, finally, reach a darker red for the last day before fading completely.

All species of water lilies that I will mention in the article, have the following common features: all tolerate the climatic conditions of the zones 5-9, all require a position constantly exposed to sunlight and, above all, stagnant water.

-Plants for shallow-water

Because of their size, very small, dwarf or pygmy waterlilies are ideal for plants grown in shallow water (15-45 cm). Some of them are real pygmy waterlilies, other are smaller versions of traditional waterlilies. The dwarf and pygmy waterlilies should be grown in baskets or planted directly in the soil of the pond. Must have constant sunlight and the water, as for all species of waterlilies, is to be stagnant. The water depth varies by species, and then I show you the depth needed for every variety of flower. In most cases, the width of the plant corresponds to a time, or one and a half, the depth at which it grows.

To read the whole article, please go to my blog:

http://varenyasgarden.blogspot.com/2010/04/waterlilies-beauty-of-lake.html

Elefsina is located on the Saronikos Gulf towards the SE of the mainland, 24km from Piraeus. The first time I saw this place, I was horrified by what I saw: gargantuan-sized gas works, steel works, cement works, oil distilleries, all found within metres of what looked like residential zones. Dust flew everywhere, piling on the side of the road like mud, especially outside the cement works. No one wore masks; no one seemed to care that they were inhaling dust. I tried to see the hidden beauty of this land, but the horrors of the modern men makes it very difficult: one must have the ability to see the past, or have great imagination, to recover the lost splendour of the Thriasian Plain and the city, once called Eleusis, now Elefsina in modern greek.
Elefsina was one of Ancient Greece’s most sacred towns, about 20 km NW of Athens, but it’s since become a byword for air and sea pollution. Elefsina, though, is spearheading efforts to clean up the country’s coastline. The region around Elefsina was recently identified as one of the most endangered areas of the Mediterranean (as for example: Elefsina currently is the city with the highest ever officially recorded temperature in Europe of 48.0 °C ). It is curious: this place was in antiquity, one of the most fertile and pleasant valleys of the whole Greece, it used to be an agricultural and cattle-breeding area; but it is also the largest plain in Attic, the closest to the capital and with a splendid position near the sea, with a vast bay and easy links  with some other important places, such as Corinth, the whole Peloponnesus and the Aegean islands.

After its glorious past in ancient times, for a long period, the city of Elefsina fell into oblivion: during the period of Turkish domination it was almost uninhabited and a few years before the establishment of the Greek state it is mentioned as a small fish -village. In the year 1860 it seems that the history of the contemporary city began by the settlement of merchants, the construction of a railway track (1884) and the opening up of Corinth Isthmus.

 The installation of the soap-making factory of Charilaou (1875), the cement industry TITAN (1902), the distilleries VOTRYS (1906) and KRONOS (1922) meant the industrialization of the city while, in 1938 the first pollution of Elefsina bay from oil transported for the industrial needs was noticed. The needs of the industries for labour force create successive waves of domestic migration.
The settlement of 2.000 Greek refugees from Asia Minor in 1922 is followed by the population blow-up of 50’s by the settlement of inhabitants of Epirus, Chios, Dodecanese, Corfu and later on (1960) of Crete and repatriated Greeks from the Black Sea. By the simultaneous installation of many big and small industries, Elefsina changed completely its form. Presently, refineries, steel mills, cement factories, shipyards, ammunition industry, 2000 smaller industries, handicrafts and commercial business are operating in the broader area.  Although the natural environment has been spoiled from industrialization, in the last years, by a number of interventions, the atmospheric and sea pollution in Elefsina bay has been slightly reduced. The Elefsina Bay, a medium-sized port, is one of the most industrialised and environmentally degraded areas in Greece. The quality of life and economic development in the bay’s communities suffer from pollution and hazards from port and industrial activities, as well as from an uncontrolled urbanisation that has limited the communal spaces and constrained the access to the sea. The situation in Elefsina is typical of many other industrial port and urban areas in Greece, South-eastern Europe and the EU in general.
The region’s dominant problem, which brought about the most serious environmental problems is the presence of many industries. In the region operate over 3000 industrial and craf-based installations, from which, some of the biggest industries of the country, such as: two oil refineries (Hellenic Petroleum S.A., Petrola Hellas S.A.), two steel industries (Hellenic Halyvourgia, Halyvourgiki S.A.), two cement industries (TITAN, Halyps Cement-Italcementi Group), an ammunition industry (PYRKAL), two shipyards, ship scrapping installations, a commercial harbour (as well as a roadstead, where vessels can lie at anchor), establishments of petrol products storage and processing, three fossil fuel processing units, one paper processing industry, scrap units, chemical industries and pits. Besides that, there is also the forthcoming operation of the gigantic new cargo facilities and railway station of Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE). Air is also highly polluted, due to the industrial activity, fossil fuel consumption and traffic circulation, the costal zone pollution is the top-ranking environmental problem and another problem is traffic congestion and noise pollution, due to heavy vehicles circulation, like lorries or busses:  the noise pollution is considered as a very serious environmental problem.

The industries operation have turned the Thriasio Pedio to a particularly polluted area ( air/ sea/ ground/ underground water pollution), in fact Elefsina is the town where the majority of crude oil in Greece is imported and refined. After the end of the war, but also of the civil tragedy that follows it, Elefsina enters definitely into the course of industrialisation. Its geographic situation and its harbour favoured the development of any kind of economic activities. Thus, apart from the old industries that are now modernized, new factories are established in the town area. In 1953 the steel factory starts functioning. In 1955 the oil factory is built and few years’ later smaller factories like the ice factory and the shipyard Savvas are founded. Athens’s nearest military airport is a few kilometers east of Elefsina. It has been used since the mid-20th century. Its runway is about 2 km and its buildings are to the west. It sits in the Thriasian/Eleusina Plain.
However, the concentration of so many factories in the town and in the wider area of Thriasio Pedio,where so many industries are in function, has catastrophic results on the environment. The air and water pollution has negative consequences also on the population’s health. The strong protests and oppositions of the inhabitants result in remediate measures and in a small reduction of the pollution.

Water pollution
Aquatic areas can naturally remove a certain amount of pollution by dispersing it harmlessly.
The marine pollution in both Saronikos Bay and Elefsina has been reduced since biological treatment of industrial waste has taken place. However, measurements  showed that there are still many chemical substances which disrupt the normal life of sea creatures.
Western Attica wetlands have an inestimable value. Yet ignorance of the state destroys them daily. Until a few years ago, the wetlands were “undervalued” by the local communities and state. As a result today the Lake Koumoundourou, near the Elefsina Bay, has very significant problems: air and ground pollution, industrial plant and fuel tanks, which come from the industries of Thriasio Pedio. The problems’ aspects are so dangerous and threatening, that each environmental measure must be regarded as a matter of great urgency. Earth is slowly dying, while flora, fauna, air and water have been seriously wounded both in quality and quantity.

Koumoundourou Lake (Lake of ancient Rheitoi)
The lake is fed by the water from the springs of mount Parnes; the surface of the lake is about 143.000 m2. One important characteristic of the lake is the constant discharge of a fresh, unpolluted water source on the north side, which keeps the oxygen level constant and improves the quality in general. As a natural environment the lake has mixed water due to mixing with the sea at percentages of 60–40 %. The lake Koumoundourou has great interest both as an important wetland and a historic site. At the lake have been recorded by the Greek Ornithological Society 50 bird species including: the world’s threatened Ferruginous Duck, the pintail, the Northern Shoveler, the wigeon, the pochard etc.
The ancient lakes Rheitoi were dedicated to the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The ancient Sacred Way met the ancient Rheitoi. Lake Koumoundourou is classified as a historic site since 1974.
Lake Koumoundourou has a long history of pollution, but also a great historical value in the area of the prefecture of Attica with its capital at Athens. Nowadays the installation of the large refinery of “ELPE”, the oil tanks of “Elinoil”, and the military depot have created a very adverse situation for the lake’s environment. Leaks and spills from the oil refinery and depots polluted the lake to the extent that almost no life could be observed in the environment.

 After the intervention of the Agricultural University of Athens the level of the lake was raised by 20 cm and the additional pressure functioned as a barrier preventing large quantities of pollutants from entering the lake. Nevertheless a huge contamination still took place. This small lake is in the vicinity of the national road, the camp AVEK 871 that supplies with fuel and oils the majority of the Greek army, the ELDA, as well as with an important amount of fuel tanks belonging to private companies. This wetland has been disordered and is close to extinction unless efforts for its protection take place, such as protection from the intense industrial development in the area, as well as limitation in the licks of the underground fuel reservoirs. Works of infrastructure shall also be done in order to collect the rainwater that rinses out the national road ending in the lake, as well as to collect the contaminants from the use of detergents, dissolves and oil at the AVEK camp.

Lake Koumoundourou has been polluted by toxic chemical substances, which are by 10 times greater than maximum safety levels. Also, underground pollution from the neighbouring waste disposal center further pollutes the Lake. Underwater pollution from highly dangerous industrial pollutants is also significant. Additionally, pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural activities further deteriorate the situation. Moreover, the absence of modern water supply and sewerage treatment networks in the whole area and their consequent uncontrolled disposal in the environmentally sensitive Eleusis Bay had resulted in Greece’s condemnation from the Court of Justice of the European Communities [Decision of the 24th of June 2004 (Case C-119/02)]. The same happened [Decision of April 2005 (Case C-163/03)] due to the lack of infrastructure in the sector of dangerous waste management and their disposal at Eleusis Bay.

 

The wetland ecosystems are very rich and productive, with multiple values. The 23 remaining wetlands in Attica, which compose a network of highly important places for the migration and wintering birds, are under a considerable pressure and even threatened with extinction. Blatant example, the lake Koumoundourou.
The Koumoundourou Lake, a lake that was an ancient place of worship, is an example of obsolescence and indifference, in many ways. It has the “misfortune” to be in the Western region of Attica, a strife-torn region, although of great archaeological interest, that has been condemned to endure a toxic death. This lake has been polluted by oil spills and leaks from both the refinery and the military depot, containing large amounts of different petroleum extracts. In addition, the aquifer has also been polluted by an underground pipe connecting these two installations as well as by percolated surface pollutants and leaks from the refinery tanks.
The lake is seen on the road Athens -Corinth. It was once a sacred place, now struggling to live among oil tanks, military facilities, heavy industries and a lot more “threatening” neighbors. In ancient times there were two pools: both lakes had been preserved until the 19th century and featured two water mills. Until the 1950s both lakes were natural fish reserves.

The large lake, the northern, Kephalari, was drained in the early ’50s and was backfilled during the construction of the oil refinery at Aspropyrgos. Its place is today marked by a swamp. Then, only one lake is left, a part of which has been drained to build the highway. The strange is that this ecosystem is under protection: since 1974 has been declared an archaeological site and the lake, and 50 meters around the area, is designated as suburban park!
Despite all the pressures and threats, the lake stands up and offers residency and relaxation to many species of birds!
Residents of surrounding areas have responded and defended the lake. Required by the state be interested in this, the release of several times the wire which kept “imprisoned” and stressed the significance and cultural value. Brought close to schools, awareness and continue to raise awareness through discussions and events, so that no one else lost this paradise. As if that were not enough already acute problems before 1.5 year (then) Ministry of Development had the ‘famous’ idea to carry oil tanks in Perama camp on the shores of the lake, but also to build a road junction in this area. There were many reactions because it is so important that this small lake be saved from destruction: the lake has to live and live, as some people claim and require breath in an already troubled Thriasio Plain.

>Some informations taken from greek sites:

– From the Department of Defense we learn that:
The lake is subject to the provisions of Military Security (with laws from 1936 to 1953).
The visit of the lake can be done by informing the administration of the camp.
Visitors are required to surrender their identity at the gate of the camp.

– From the Ministry of Culture, we learn that:
Approved Environmental Study Update the lake (F1/12/56/25-1-2005) .
Visiting schools are free to visit all archaeological sites, but the responsible to answer for Lake Koumoundourou is the Defense ministry.
2.3 Our demand for more frequent and more intensive audits on its own and modern means of OP control of air and groundwater pollution (oil spills, leachate from landfills) is also required for another reason. Lake Koumoundourou declared other than historical site (1974) valuable wetland.
Basically, it is foundamental the reopening of the access to the lake.
Collective action brings results. The dozens of signs prohibiting the entrance of the lake are now inactive. Their existence, suggest rather the need to conceal the pollution, despite the military character of the area given that it is also an archaeological site.

-To protect the Lake Koumoundourou must:
* Stop the aboveground and underground pollution of the lake, the control of neighboring industries (mainly Hellenic Petroleum Aspropyrgos, landfills, etc.) and take immediate and strong measures of protection (decontamination, measurements, etc.).
* To become a site visited so that the citizens can assess its value.

>Wetlands of Attica: oases of life with an uncertain future
(Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at the bookstore IANOS)
This year’s celebration of World Day of wetlands: the remaining wetlands in Athens have to face serious problems. The hundreds of wetlands in Greece is the most valuable ecosystems in the country. Nevertheless, the year we passed the Greek Ornithological Society received more than thirty-five complaints related to degradation of wetlands in Greece.
The protection and conservation of wetlands in Athens is vital – aesthetic, emotional, scientific and economic – for everyone. These areas are of particular value because of their proximity to urban yoke of Athens. They perform a variety of valuable ecological functions: support a great variety of life, retain the rain water, rich with this aquifer, but also ensure a balanced change.
The threats and pressures facing wetlands today around Athens have led to severe degradation, and thus degrade the quality of life. Poorly designed flood control projects, oil tanks, off plan construction, illegal hunting, extensive polders are just a few of the growing threats to wetlands listed in Attica.
In conjunction with citizens and volunteers who care about the location and environment of Attica present the priceless value of these wetlands to Attica, the problems they face are urgent and deep, still they propose solutions to preserve them as “oases of life in urban landscape”.
”People react and fight to protect these wetlands, as the Agency for Protection and the VOURKARI Movement to save the lake Koumoundourou. Furthermore, twelve of the most important wetlands in the country are monitored regularly by volunteers of the Ornithological Society.”
This, in antiquity, the sacred lake of Persephone, is the modern battlefield, where an unequal struggle unfolds. On one side stands the ruinous industries and political giant and on the other, battling defender, the natural world of the lake. In this semantic specialty, ‘guerrilla Lake’, the world of wetland are armed only with the ability of survival. The birds and the lake try againto resist to the toxic war. Not protected by any modern law, just struggling to survive in a place that is canceled in the minds of sophisticated Athenians.

((only some photos are taken by me, the others are kindly provided by this blog:
http://limnik.blogspot.com/))

In these days, as the persistence of the sun in the sky increases, the days are getting longer and the air is warm and fragrant, the pansies are blooming in my garden.
The spectacle of their bloom and their colors, all different and equally amazing, are adding a touch of grace and joy throughout the whole garden. It is a joy to watch them bloom every year, so I could not avoid writing an article for praise them, telling their botanical characteristics, their origin in ancient legends and myths and their various and great medicinal properties .

It is an herbaceous plant, annual, and it has a small root. The stem can reach 40 cm in height and is very simple, covered by tiny hairs, almost invisibles. The leaves are oval in shape. The flowers are brought individually by a thin stem. The corolla has five petals, their color is highly variable, it can go from blue to purple (all combinations are indeed possible: yellow, gold, orange, purple, violet, red, white, and even black very dark purple, many with large showy face markings. A large number of bicoloured flowers have also been produced). These aren’t small blossoms you have to strain to see. Pansy flowers are huge and held high above the plant, like colorful little faces looking at you.
Finally, the fruit is an oval-shaped capsule, and when it reaches maturity, it opens in three parts that contain many brown seeds. It grows naturally in meadows and cultivated fields. It is often cultivated for its beautiful and striking colors. When cultivated, one must choose a limestone and clay ground, well fertilized and exposed to the sun only for few hours in a day, because this flower prefers the shadows.  
It should be watered abundantly in spring and scatter the watering in summer to suspend almost all in the autumn and winter. Growing pansies could be very successfully during fall and winter. Experts recommend to sow seed indoors in mid-summer, six to eight weeks before transplanting. The pansies can be transplanted into the garden once the summer heat has been broken and cooler weather arrives. It does not fear the frost of the winter, for this reason it is a plant that is also widespread in the wild. Protect your pansies during cold weather by temporarily allowing them to wilt. The dry leaves are not damaged by cold; they recover nicely when warmer temperatures appear. But if the soil is frozen while dry, with frigid winds howling across the leaves, the roots of the pansy plants will be unable to transport water back to the leaves. For this reason, keep beds thoroughly mulched with at least two inches of a living organic mulch during the winter. In fact, that’s the real secret of pansies: the only time they won’t grow well is in the hottest months of summer, generally July and August. So if you plant them early in September, you have a chance of enjoying an amazing ten months of bloom, especially if we have a mild winter.


The pansy must be harvested when blooming in spring; the parts used for medicinal purposes are the flowers. When harvested, it must be cut close to the ground, removing any leaves and woody parts. The flowers must be provided to dry in the shade, in thin layers. The dried flowers should be stored in paper or canvas bags.

The pansies are used as an expectorant and emollient in respiratory diseases, especially those due to phlegm, but the most important property of these flowers is that of purifying the skin. Some researchers have reported the utility in case of acne, eczema and pimples, and even the milk crust of childrens. I read that the pansy has also a diuretic and slightly laxative property. The better exploitation of its virtues need a contemporary interior and exterior treatment with infusions and skin applications. 

Tells the myth that the young Attis, Prince of Asia Minor, dying, gave birth to the pansies from his blood. Desperate for his death, his betrothed, Atta, took her own life and also from her blood sprang other pansies; those born from the blood of Attis are the pansies with reddish petals, while all other varieties grew from the blood of Atta. In the imperial Rome it was celebrated the cult of Attis, and his feast day, March 22, was called “dies violae” the day of the Pansy.
In greek, the pansy is called “ion”. Ion was the founder of the ancestry of the Ions; one day after the hunt, he came on the river Alpheus where the Ioniades, the nymphs of pansies, offered him a crown of yellow pansies as a symbol of human and divine kingship. These flowers, among the Greeks, were always called “flowers of Ionia”. The Athenians, the Ionian race, had a particular fondness for the pansy, Pindar also called Athens “City crowned with violets”, crowned by the sacred flower which gives kingship and power.

Even in England this flower has always been loved, by the Celts and even during the Middle Ages: it is said that the Knights of the Round Table consulted the pansy to know their fate by interpreting the number and arrangement of rays from the center of the flower: seven lines (a lucky amount) meant constancy in love, while more meant fickleness and even disappointment in affairs of the heart.

The legend of the pansy says the flower was originally white but turned bright purple where it was pierced by Cupid’s arrow. It’s said that you can see a loved one in the face of a pansy. Even the flower’s named is derived from the French pensee, meaning thought, reflecting the flower’s reputation for bringing thoughts of loved ones. Shakespeare clearly understood the meaning of the flower when, in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” , he wrote that the sleeping Titania will fall in love with the first creature she will see when she will awake, thanks to the pansy juice on her eyes (“the juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid, will make a man or woman madly dote (fall in love) upon the next live creature that it sees.”. The pansy is also known as Heart’s Ease, for it was believed that carrying the flower would ensure the love of your sweetheart.  
The pansy was one of the ingredients in a Celtic love potion, because the pansy was supposed to have magical love powers. The petals, being heart-shaped, were thought to cure the broken hearts of the lovers.
According to a german legend, the pancy once had a wonderful and strong scent. People came from miles to smell the flowers. By doing this, the people destroy the grass around the pansies. The pansy prayed to the Gods for help because the feed for the cattle was being destroyed. So the Gods took away its loveable scent, but gave it great beauty instead. The pansy is associated with the St. Valentine’s Day and has long been exchanged by lovers. According to a legend, the pansies should not be picked while the dew is upon them, for that would cause the death of a loved one. The pansy should never be picked in the middle of a spell of fine weather, or it is said that the rain will surely soon return. Oddly enough, to dream of this otherwise delightful little flower is said to forecast an unpleasant experience or misunderstanding with someone of the slumberer’s own sex.

To read the whole article, with many recipes, curiosities and many photos of my garden:

http://varenyasgarden.blogspot.com/2010/03/pansy-curiosities-and-insights.html

Primrose

The primrose is a plant of the family Primulacee (there are, by approximation, at least two hundred different species, all belonging to the same family). It blooms between March and late April. It can be seen from the range of hills to the Alpine belt, it prefers fertile, moist soils and can grow both in the shadows as in the sun. It grows in moist, deciduous forests and grassland. In fact, all the photographs I made of this flower, I’ve taken in a very humid forest, traversed by a brook and surrounded by fallow fields and ruined homes. This is a protected species.
It resembles very much the primula veris, and the flowers have a pale yellow corolla (but the flowers have a wide range of colors and, sometimes, can be scented), the flower has five petals, heart shaped, the calyx of the flower is very tight .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found these days a very abundant blossoming, helped by the warm weather of the spring. This plant blooms when the insects are still very few (I’ve only seen two bees and a pale green butterfly visit these tender flowers), and because of this, its flowers are often not pollinated. Shakespeare, in “The Winter’s Tale,” has drawn a poetic metaphor: “the pale primroses who die unmarried”.
Its name reflects its early birth; in the language of flowers, it has inspired the symbol of the first youth. Lovers have endeavored to tell the beloved: “The key to my heaven is in your heart.” with this flower.
Like everything announcing the new season and the renewal of the year, the primrose is also a symbol of good luck and good wishes (for example in England, where such a plant also known as “bunch of keys”).
The primrose is considered a “Plant of Fairies”.

This plant is popular for its numerous medicinal properties; it is rich in active ingredients such as saponins, flavonoids, etc.. It is used as an expectorant and against respiratory diseases, it is indeed an excellent sedative for the cough: the dried flowers are used to improve the herbal against the cough, as well as sweating and tranquilizer. The root has a diuretic property, but it is also used against rheumatic pains; it also has a stimulating effect on the sneezing. In homeopathy, it is used in cases of cardiovascular weakness and headache.
The cowslip’s wine is obtained by putting the flowers in a bottle and covering them with white wine: this preparation promotes the good circulation. The dried flowers are also used to prepare an aromatic tea but with no exciting action, to perfume the beer and to improve the bouquet of wine. Prepared as candied, they become a delicious dessert.
In the wild, it should not be collected because it is a protected plant, but it may be cultivated. The time of harvest, in this case, is: the roots in autumn, the leaves before flowering and the flowers, the perfect ones, towards the end of March and in April (if they are still in the period of full bloom: this depends on climate and the variety of flower).

To see all my photos:

http://varenyasgarden.blogspot.com/2010/03/flowers-of-springtime-primrose-and.html

Introduction     

In my family, we have always used these recipes based on herbs, but despite this, I have also done several searches and found that they do not vary and are always the same, intact, and this because, probably, they are part of an ancient knowledge, ancient as the world. These recipes are very simple, even those without extensive experience in the use of herbs may groped without any danger as long as you follow the instructions and do not ever change the quantity, and dosage recommendations. The herbs used are to be collected according to their balsamic time, so that they have the highest degree of force, all the characteristics and their unique properties. These herbs should also be harvested in safe and clean places, away from harmful influences such as busy roads or industrial sites, certainly the best thing is to have a small vegetable garden or to have the luck to find in the wild in the unspoiled woods. In the absence of these two options, you can order the herbs dried by specialized herbalists. They must be stored by the rules and used as recommended.
Finally, we must keep in mind that these herbs are rare and precious gifts and as such should be treated with respect and love, so the preparations will grow in goodness and curative strength.

Fruit jams       

The jams, also called marmalades, are saccharic derivatives of soft consistency, rarely solid, resulting from the union of fruits with the sugar; the sugar has the aim of preventing their alteration and make them more palatable. To get a jam from fresh produce, the sugar is added to the fruits, previously reduced to a pulp. Then you must heat the mixture to double boiler, over moderate heat, to facilitate the melting of the sugar and the jam to obtain the necessary consistency.
Herbs/ fruits can be used for preparing the jams, or fresh or dried, you can use the fresh plant or its first derivatives (infusions, decoctions, extracts, etc..), following the prescribed information in different pharmacotherapeutic documents on syrups and with the same daily dosing.

The medicative honeys     

Premise the abundance of honey plants, including medicinal ones, one must say that there are at least thirty varieties of honey from herbs (gentian honey, thyme honey, lavender honey, etc…). Medicative honeys or mellitus, are obtained by mixing an aqueous solution of one or more drugs with the honey. Medicative honeys an be prepared with either fluid extracts or infusions or decoctions concentrated, adjusting for doses as for the syrup. In some cases, simply add to the honey the medicinal herbs, finely chopped, fresh, or half the amount for the dry ones.
The medicative wines

The medicinal wines are now almost forgotten and abandoned, but these medicinal wines were once much used for a large number of species, both aromatic or medicinal plants.
It is simply the transfer to the wine of the characteristics of medicinal substances in order to use the solvent properties of the wine (well above that of the water, for alcohol it contains and for its slight acidity).These wines can be prepared or by the maceration of herbs or through dilution of the corresponding fluid extracts. In this way you can get wine digestives, tonics, laxatives etc.

Liqueurs and herbal elixir 

These compounds are obtained by first soaking the herb in alcohol, and then mixing the aqueous solution obtained in the aqueous solution of sugar.
Instead of soaking, you can also use the infusion of herbs bruised or powdered extracts and finally the essences of aromatic species.
 

Medicative syrups   

These syrups are solutions of two parts of sugar with one of water (or of the medicative solution). They are an important form of practical use of medicinal herbs.
Medicinal syrups can be prepared or starting from extracts or from tinctures of the select species or even from tea concentrates. It is very important to remain always within the limits of the doses recommended or prescribed.

Tinctures of medicinal plants

The tinctures are obtained by employing as a solvent the alcohol at different dilutions with water. The best known are those obtained, for example, from aloe, hive, belladonna, cardamom, eucalyptus, gentian, thrush, rhubarb, scylla, and from saffron.

To read the full article, with many recipes, in my other blog: http://varenyasgarden.blogspot.com/2010/03/grandmothers-medicative-recipes-with.html

Panorama of the Alpine meadows

Springtime is at hand. The first cowslips are now flourishing in the plains. The mountains still are covered by white snow, but, soon, the growing heat of the Sun will dissolve the snow of the fierce winter and will enable us to enjoy the seasonal return of all the flowers and fruits of the generous Earth.
Many love the beauties of this Earth, but so few are able to recognize, know and call with its proper name a plant, a flower, a tree. I wish to be helpful in this matter, so that all my walkings on mountains and among forests shall be fruitful and bring delight as well.

 

Carduus Defloratus

-Carduus Defloratus (Alpine thistle)

It belongs to the family of Composite. It ‘a perennial herb, of vivid color, slender and devoid of leaves on the stem. But in the bottom of the stem, closest to the earth, has very prickly leaves, oblong, divided into lobes of variable size, toothed and thorny. The flower is a peep out of flowers, purple or dark purple, surrounded and protected by a crown of small leaves, all very thorny.
This plant grows, and can be seen, mainly on scree, in non-fertilized lawns and in woodlands full of brightness. It prefers soils rich in humus, very sunny and limestone. It is not uncommon, in the Alps, to see great expanses of lawn, even at high altitude where trees do not grow more, not even the strongest trees, rich with all these colorful flowers and the lawns are invaded by butterflies and bees, which are very greedies of the pollen from this flower.
It ‘a very happy plant visited by butterflies and bumblebees of all kinds, especially in July / August when is the peak of its flowering. Its seeds, collected in this period towards the end of August, dried in the sun and then taken into the tea, have cleansing properties, in general, especially for the liver, it is well known since antiquity (Pseudo Apuleius in his book “De virtutibus herbarum”). The tradition considers it as a solar plant, a plant of the summer solstice, for this reason, in all the folk traditions of Europe, is used to protect and ward off the harmful spirits.

Rhododendron Ferrugineum

-Rhododendron Ferrugineum (Rhododendron ferruginea)

It belongs to the family of Ericaceous. It ‘an evergreen shrub, bushy, much branched. Its leaves are oval and oblong, bright green on the upper and rust-colored on the lower side: from this particular is his name. The flowers are pink or purplish red, bell- shaped, are in inflorescences. It blooms in June / July. It lives in high altitude moorland, in the sparse forest, not too thick but moist, rocky places, and preferably on soil acidic. It ‘a species that requires high protection, (the Alps have declared this plant a protected species) because its full development requires many years, even a single twig has many dozens of annual rings. In the past, was collected in an intense way, because, with its branches, small twigs were manufactured, used for lighting fires in the fireplaces.
This plant may be infested by the parasitic fungus Exobasidium rhododendri, whitish and with rounded shape. This fungus can be collected and, if marinated with the oil of prunus brigantina, provides a medicated oil for arthritis, rheumatism and sciatica. However the leaves are highly toxic and in any Herbal manual is indicated as not suitable for personal use, unless you are experienced herbalists.
This plant was well known in antiquity: his name is greek and means “tree of the rose” and was also called “pink graduation” because its leaves resemble the laurel. Pliny refers to it, recalling the toxicity of its leaves, especially for the animals; Apuleius speaks of it also in his “Metamorphoses,” when the protagonist, Lucius, mistakes it for a bush of roses, and realizes his mistake finally, because the rhododendron has no scent.
Its beauty, coupled with its venom, have meant that in the vocabulary of flowers is a symbol of the misleading allurements.

 

Aconitum napellus

-Aconitum napellus (Aconite)

It belongs to the family of Buttercups. It is a protected species. The aconite is a perennial plant, with a sturdy stem that can become up to one meter high, the leaves are deeply affected on the margin, to take an almost ragged form.
The flowers are very distinctive and very beautiful, when there’s his full flowering in July and August, are colored dark blue or bluish purple very intense. Each flower has five sepals. The upper petal is shaped like a helmet, two egg-shaped petals are on the sides and are called “wings”, while the two lower petals are very small and hidden. The corolla is composed of yellow filaments that can be seen only if the flower is fully opened. It grows mainly in alpine meadows, along the course of streams and near the huts on moist soil rich in nutrients, and also in undergrowth.
It is one of the most poisonous plants known, its active ingredient, the aconitine, is a poison that is absorbed directly through the skin. As taught the ancestors, Pliny recalls: “there is no evil from which don’t derive something good.” So, this poisonous plant is also used for medical use, it has properties painkillers, decongestants, anti-inflammatory and sedative and are studied its antitumor properties.
In antiquity, however, was used primarily as a strong poison, spread on the tips of arrows and weapons, and the farmers used it to kill the wolves that threatened their herds. According to legend, the name of this plant is derived from Acone, the port of Heraclea in Bithynia, where it sprung for the first time from the drool of Cerberus, driven by Heracles during the twelfth labor. According to the derivation of terminology, instead, Ovid, said that the name derives from “akone” that in greek means stone. “An herb that is born and is resistant on the hard stone and so is called aconite by the peasants.”
The flower has the names: “Helm of Jupiter”, “Helm of Odin” or “Helm of Thor” and in the Norse mythology it represents the errant knight and it is said that it has the power to render invisible. It is also called “Coach of Venus” because its reproductive system looks like that of the women. It is best known as “Devil’s Grass,” was widely used by witches for their magic, and also was one of the ingredients of the famous ointment with which witches could went, flying, to the sabbath.

There are many things you can love of Greece, many may be recalled with nostalgia, and many remain etched in

memory for their enchanting beauty and uniqueness. One of these things is the natural vegetation that grows wild in many parts of Hellas, in those lonely, mysterious places in which hardly seems that the time has elapsed, and where modern men go so rarely.This is a small tribute to the beauty of the Greek flora, that I love so greatly!

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.)

The rosemary is an evergreen shrub, a bush in the family of the Labiatae. The stem can be high by a few tens of cm up to two / three meters in height, the stem is initially prostrate at the base, where it occasionally produces many natural offshoots, then becomes gradually more and more erect and much branched. At the bottom, the trunk has a bark that browses in longitudinal strips, dark brown in colour. The leaves are leathery and persistent, have a linear form with the folded edge down, the upper surface is green and glossy, the lower one is white, because of unbranched and glandular hairs. The flowers are present for most of the year in the warmer parts of the Mediterranean coastline, they are of a beautiful color blue violet or lilac, and are grouped in cluster, have five petals, three upper and two lower. Look at the shape of each individual flower: does not looks like a little fairy with a sparkling and delicate dress?
As it only grows naturally along the coastline and forests that are located near the sea, never or almost never goes to the interior of a territory. Definitely it loves the sun and the heat, it fears only the cold and, above all, the prolonged frost, but aside from the cold, it is a rustic plant, highly resistant, which does not need particularly fertile or treated ground, does not need rain and is not subject almost to any illness or infection, to which are often subject all plants. Sometimes the growth is so luxuriant that comes to form dense and compact hedges, often covered with bees and butterflies, because they enjoy greatly its scent and its pollen.
The rosemary is a plant that, since ancient times, has inspired legends, traditions and miraculous medicines.
Its Latin name, “Rosmarinus”, relates it closely to the sea: according to some scholars it would derive from “ros” dew, “maris”, of the sea, with the meaning of “dew of the sea”. According to other scholars the name derives from “rosa”, rose, and” maris “, with the meaning of ” rose of the sea”. Still others claim it comes from “rhus”, shrub, and therefore it could mean “a shrub of the sea”. In any case, his pale blue color reminds of the color of the marine water of the Aegean sea.
In ancient Egypt was considered a symbol of immortality and ,because of this, they used to put a buch of it in the hands of the deceased. The Romans crowned with rosemary the idols of the Lares, the genii of the family home. His funeral use was maintained even in modern times, and even today, in Sicily, the funeral wreaths are woven with myrtle and rosemary. According to the doctrine which connects the plants to astral influences, and hence to the body parts, the rosemary is a plant of Gemini and rules on the hands and their woes. For this reason, in the ancient rites of purification, the manual ablutions with rosemary solutions were a prerequisite. This plant was considered so sacred that it could be used instead of incense in the religious ceremonies.
It is believed, in the folk tradition, that the rosemary is particularly dear to the fairies, often hidden in its flowers, sometimes taking the form of little snakes. Further, it is alleged that the poisonous animals nourish invincible aversion toward this plant and none of them would ever enter a house protected by the presence of the rosemary. It is a plant that gives joy and happiness, especially if planted near the house, and this is clear also by its Doric name, “makarìtes” , blessed. It is said that its scent removes the nightmares, carry away the smell that carry diseases and protects against lightning strikes (Corpus Hermeticum). In addition, its scent has the power to strengthen memory, so it was used to study near it or by holding a crown of it. Alludes to this property, in “Hamlet”, Ophelia, when she says: “That’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance …”
In the language of flowers, it means the happy heart, or the sincerity of love and marital fidelity, and, because of its beautiful meanings, is also considered an auspicious plant on the day of the wedding.
Apart from the legends, the rosemary is a plant with unique medicinal and cosmetic properties, and in this sense has always been used since remote antiquity. The part to be  used in herbal medicine are the young twigs which must be carefully picked in early spring, and eventually dried in the shade (but with the drying up it loses most of its heady aroma). Many oils are obtained from the rosemary and many extracts useful in pharmacy, perfumery, and liquor. The plant has indeed stimulating and digestive properties, especially for the liver, has the ability to suppress the cough, thin the phlegm and accelerate the healing of illness. The essential oil is useful for the treatment of bruises, joint  and muscle pains etc. In cosmetics, lotions and baths render fragrant and purify the skin, invigorate and strengthen, not to mention the lovely scent that can be enjoyed for long because it is very persistent and delicate.

Asphodel (Asphodelus albus)

The asphodel belongs to the lily family, is a herbaceous plant with a root system very complex, it consists of numerous swollen and tuberous roots, gathered together at the
apex. The stem is variously branched and can be high from 50 to 100 cm. All leaves arise from the base of the plant, have triangular cross section, and can be very short
to reach even 70 cm in length. The leaves become narrow gradually towards the top, are completely hairless and light green. The flowers have six petals fleshy, whites, and whose median rib is red or green to very dark. The fruit is a capsule oval and elongated, maturing, it opens in three perfect parts to release the seeds blackish brown. It is a plant that grows in grassy and open places  in all the Mediterranean, provided that they are very sunny. It is very
frequently found in the so called “zone of the olive” and near the beaches. It much prefers the rocky soils or loose soils, such as limestone. This ornamental plant, of great charm and beauty, with grace appears in the meadows, both solo and in large floral carpets. is an apparition almost magical in the woods and sunny beaches along the Mediterranean, with its high stem and its ethereal bearing .
Ever since Homer, the asphodel has always been regarded as a plant of the Underworld, as Homer remembers in the Odyssey (Od. XI, 487 to 491 / 539-573). In the classical division of the Underworld, the house of Hades is divided into three sections: Tartarus is for the wicked and unjust, the Elysian Fields are for the just and virtuous, and finally the Asphodel Meadows are for those who, during their lifetime, were neither good nor evil but a mixture of both. Moreover, being necessary to the dead the food, the asphodel was planted on the graves and considered as their source of sustenance in the afterlife. Therefore, even in modern times, in the Mediterranean countries, a meadow covered with its flowers is always considered as a place to stay or visit of the dead. Theocritus links this flower to the Mystery religions and their
Gods, which often, in frescoes, are shown wearing crowns of white asphodel. The asphodel is also said to be part of the “Kepos”, the garden of the Gods, where they grow all the magical plants of the tradition. Pliny tells us that another name used to describe this flower so special, was “hastula regia”, the royal scepter, and therefore a manifestation of an higher divine power. Always Pliny relates that, in his days, it was sown before the door of country houses as a remedy against the negative sorcery.
The authors cite many ancient recipes to cook the root: Theophrastus says that the root bulb is the best part, that they used to eat with figs; Pliny notes that the bulb could be cooked in the ashes with the addition of salt and oil. It is said that Pythagoras was very fond of this type of food. Mallow and asphodel were considered to have been the first nourishment of mankind and so these flowers were offered on the altars (Plutarch, Moralia).
The ancient medicine, Greek in particular, suggests many therapeutic uses of this flower: the bulbs, cooked and  used in the preparation of herbal teas were recommended as tonics, and pulped were useful for treating diseases of the joints and nerves, the seeds instead, taken into  the wine, heal snake bites and scorpion stings.
The part used for herbal and medicinal uses is just the bulb, but it contains a certain amount of alkaloids, which makes the therapeutic use inadvisable  for internal use.
The bulbs should be harvested when the plant enters the resting phase, in September / October, after the flower has dried, or in March, before it starts again the growth cycle. After being washed, you have to let them dry in the sun and always keep them away from moisture. The asphodel has a long traditional use for cosmetics applications as an emollient, cooling and decongestant for skin irritation, especially from the sun. An another traditional use is also that of the fresh pulp of the bulbs to remove the freckles.

Poppy (Papaver rhoeas L.)

The poppy belongs to the family of Papaveraceae, is an annual plant, very hardy and very easy to observe. The root is white, the top produces a rosette of leaves, from which rises then the stem, up to 80 cm long. The stem is covered with long silky hair, turned horizontally. The basal leaves form a dense rosette, they are lanceolate and have an elliptical form, the margin is toothed, the base narrows into a long stalk; on the contrary, the leaves of the stem are much simpler and smaller. All the leaves are covered with silky and soft hair. The flowers are solitary, one for each stem. Before flowering, the buds are hanging. The cup has two sepals that fall at the flowering, and the corolla has four petals rounded, wider than long, deep red, and often have a black or dark purple spot at the base. The stamens are very numerous, all black. The fruit, which contains many seeds blackish brown, is an oval capsule, maturing, it opens with small holes from which it drops its seeds.
The poppy grows naturally almost to the submontane belt, in grassy places shared with other species of flowers, and especially in the fields of wheat, but it is not uncommon, during periods of maximum flowering (May / July), to observe it on the edges of railways and country roads and grassland pastures on the hills. Sometimes it grows so dense to cover of bright red all the lawn, creating an incredible visual effect.
The Greeks represented Hypnos, the God of sleep, with his head crowned with this flower or we can see images of him, holding this flower in his hand. Likewise they depicted also Death and Night. Following this inspiration, the Baroque artists have adorned  of the poppies the front of Oblivion of love, a winged boy asleep near the source of Cyzicus, where the water had the power to erase from the mind the remembrance of the past loves. All the species of poppy have similar effects, but not all contain substances of very high drug effects, like the papaver somniferum from which opium is extracted. The poppy is extremely common in Mediterranean regions during the late spring, its appearance indicates that the beginning of summer is near.
This flower is associated with the power, in particular the political power, because of the legend regarding the last king of Rome, Tarquin the Proud. Legend says that one day the king, wishing to show to his child the safest way to seize the city of Gabi, tore down, with a stick, the higher poppies  in the garden, explaining with a symbolic action, that one had to remove, before all, the citizens most influential and powerful.
Because of its sedative and soporific virtues, the poppy is regarded as being under the influence of the planet Saturn and took the meanings of laziness and misanthropy, sleep and death. In nineteenth-century language of flowers is instead the symbol of the  dormant pride.
In popular tradition, its petal was used as a test of loyalty in love affairs: place it on the palm of your hand and punch him, it must produce a snap to show that the beloved one is faithful.
The part with medicinal properties is the petal. They should be collected during the period of full bloom, the best time is late May and early June until the summer solstice and the petals should be detached with great delicacy. They must be dried in the shade and in shadows must always be preserved. The poppy is considered harmless because, in herbal medicine, are used the petals and not the capsules, but this does not exempt from a certain caution in the use of this flower at home. Infusions of poppy petals were reported as mild sedatives, acts to facilitate sleep, especially for the children and the elderly. To these infusions is attributed, since time immemorial, the ability to calm the cough and soothe the pains of stomach. The poppy should be used only when strictly necessary but, in the absence of precise knowledge, the capsules should never be used. The petals, because of their bright red color, were used in the past by women to make up the lips and cheeks. Extracts of the flowers have a calming and anti-inflammatory effect on the reddened skin. A beautiful and often a dangerous, wondrous flower!

Lunar calendar for gardening

Introduction

Is lost in the mists of time, the knowledge of the fact that the Moon has a direct influence on the biological behavior of all plants and, consequently, on farming practices, and it determines their success or their failure.
The advices, that came from the peasant wisdom, belong to a tradition as old as the world, and probably it’s began when the men began to sow their fields and started making agriculture their only method of survival.The “watching the sky and then sow” fits in very well in the current climate of rediscovery of Nature and its delicious secrets, forgotten because of the cold rationalism that dominates the modern life and that was threatening to erase from the memory of men these ancient knowledges. There is a deep connection between lunar phases and natural phenomena that take place on earth. The focus falls mainly on those events that have teh character of periodicity, remarkably regular, just like those typical of the vegetation, of course, that are highly dependent on the course and return of the seasons.
The alternation of phases of the Moon perfectly evokes the inexhaustible and continuous cycle that characterizes the entire plant world. Since time immemorial this phenomenon has been noticed and studied with great care, not only in Europe but among all the ancient civilizations of the world, only in 1600, however, some scholars attracted to this ancient knowledge, have picked up the topic and have began a critical study, based on scientific method, to discover which and how much influence The moon has on the Earth and its elements.
The well-known influence of the moon on tides is a proof that the moon exerts against the Earth, an attraction which, mainly, affects the bodies who consist largely of water. Is believed that the Moon “moves the humours” of the bodies of living beings, ie the blood of all animals and the sap of plants, activating their movement in favor of biological functions.
One can say that it is rooted in the human mind from the very beginning, the idea of the link between the appearing and disappearing of the Moon and the birth and death of human beings, between increasing phases and growing, between waning phases and decay.
The lunar calendar existed since time immemorial. A lunar month corresponds roughly to a calendar month, every month the moon may in turn be divided into shorter periods, corresponding to approximation: a quarter of the moon for each week. But, since the Moon makes its way through, delaying slightly each day, there cannot be an exact correspondence between the date of the month and moon phase. That’s why, for example, the Hindu Festival calendar, a lunar calendar very old, always sees the change, every year, of the dates of the holy holidays, and a feast shall never fall on the same day of the last year, because of this continuous change of the phases of moon.

the lunar phases, the climate and the weather previsions

Since antiquity it is known that the moon has some influence also on the “atmospheric tides”. The higher deductions in this field were gathered by Erato of Soli, a greek astronomer by 270 BC, who wrote a didactic poem, “The phenomena and predictions”.
Here’s a short list of “weather signs” most followed, both among farmers and among seafarers: -disk white and clear: beautiful climate and serene;
-the rising of the moon, the horns of the crescent have little brightness, or have dark edges: bad weather, possible storms;
-pale-disc, surrounded by colored halos, when they are close, then the weather will be cloudy and sunny, but if they are distant, bad weather and rain should be expected;
-disk with reddish hues: wind.
A phenomenon linked to the full moon in late April-early May, is indicated by the word “Red Moon”. During this time, the sky is often quite calm and the air is crystal clear, and the moon seems very bright: in conjunction with this clearness of the atmosphere, the night temperature drops considerably compared to daylight, and causes the so-called white frost, due to the formation of a thin layer of frost on the young shoots that, at dawn, appear reddish.
The most reliable estimate is that which is based on the presence of halos and shades of color. These phenomena are in fact visible when the atmosphere is rich in moisture and is therefore very likely that they are to be expected rain clouds. The moonlight through the tiny water droplets that are suspended in the air, undergoes a phenomenon of refraction, similar to that which causes the appearance of the rainbow after a storm.
Other beliefs about the weather and moon phases:
-The time that occurs with the new moon is to last;
-are more numerous the sunny days during the initial part of the last quarter;
-are more numerous the overcast days in the period immediately preceding the new moon.

The Moon and the Zodiac

Some believe that the influence of the Moon on Earth is correct, and complicated, by the constellations that the Moon encounters during his journey in the zodiacal band, ie the ring of the sky where you can observe the movements of the Sun, Moon and other planets.
The zodiac was originally divided into twelve sectors of 30 ° each, each of which corresponds to a constellation, characterized by a zodiac sign. It is thought that, even in agriculture, we should exploit the combined effect of moon phases and astrological signs conducive to perform individual work and for the various plant species.
However, the already difficult connection between season, the weather and moon phase, it becomes even more difficult to determine when we consider also the signs of the zodiac. This is also due to the phenomenon of downgrading of the spring equinox (around 50”per year), because of which each constellation gradually slips in front of the field that bears his name, which was established in ancient by ancient astronomers and scholars. For example, where 3500 years ago, there was the Ram, today you find the Fishes. This means in practice that each sign corresponds to the constellation which precedes it. Signs that have a similar influence on vegetation are at the top of an ideal triangle, and hence the twelve constellations are grouped in four stingrays:
1) Triangle of the Heat: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
2) Triangle of the Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
3) Triangle of the Light: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
4) Triangle of the Water : Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Signs of Heat are favorable to crops who desire heat  (vegetables, fruit, corn); Earth Signs stimulate root development, and therefore all the underground vegetables (carrots, turnips, onions), the signs of Light are auspicious to each crop, but in particular the cultivation of flowers, signs of Water are particularly suitable for the cultivation of vegetables, tender and juicy (salads, tomatoes, zucchini, etc..).

The Moon and the plants, other notes

Suggestions of the Tradition

“hard moon” and “soft moon”: the peasant tradition recommends to sow the grass in strict lunar phases, depending on the type of crop you want.
The waning moon is called the “tender” because it promotes the development of herbaceous stems, with its abundant production of forage.
The crescent moon is called “hard” because, in contrast, induces an early and abundant earing, with its production of grain.
The lawn sown in the declining phase is maintained, in the long, young and green, while that sown in the growing phase prematurely ages and yellow in a hurry.


> Waning Moon: sow and plant vegetables under the ground or plants that grow near the ground. In the kitchen garden, carrots, onions, turnips and spinach etc, salads etc.. in the garden, bulbs and tubers to regenerate, and even by planting ground cover and edging.
> Crescent Moon: sow and plant plants that grow on the earth, in which the flowering and fruit production are linked to a remarkable luxuriance of vegetation. In the kitchen garden, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, etc.. in the garden, flowering vines, roses burgeoning etc.

Schedule of interventions in the garden and orchard
-Sowing and planting
Though the crescent moon is found to be conducive to germination and to engraftment, in practice this is what recommends the tradition:
> Crescent Moon: sowing and planting those species in which the vigor is not in contrast with the flowering or fruit production, but on the contrary it is essential to support them.In the garden: flowering plants in general, climbers in particular, re-bloom roses, hydrangeas etc.In the kitchen garden: tomatoes, eggplants, beans, peppers, etc..
> Moonset: sowing and planting those species in which the vegetative development is inversely proportional to the flowering and fruit production.
In the garden: the species border and ground cover, which, for having flowers, must be kept low and compact. In the kitchen garden: lettuce, spinach, radishes, which tend to get up early with their flowering stem, ending their cycle.

-bare-root transplants
These types of transplants are performed with the waning moon, which assist in the resting phase, during which we proceed with just the planting of trees without the bread of earth.

-bulbs, tubers and rhizomatic
With the crescent moon will be planted bulbs and tubers that you want to flourish.
With the waning moon will grub up the bulbs underground to store them.

-multiplication
With the crescent moon is to made layers, spurs, a division of assets, planting of suckers: for the rooting is necessary that the plant is in full swing and full of juice.
With the waning moon bury the cuttings, so that the nutrient substances will remain available to the roots that need to grow, and not instead referred to the quotes, as in the increasing phase.

-Grafts
Always perform them with the crescent moon, because the plants must be in full operation, to allow the removal of the cortex and the rapid welding of tissues in contact. This also applies to grafts performed during the winter rest.

-Pruning and chamfer
With the crescent moon, the stimulating effects of pruning in the era preceding the awakening of vegetation as well as those of the summer flock, are assisted by the influence of the moon.
With the waning moon, the depressing effects of pruning performed in the course of vegetative growing became more marked, while the stimulating effects of green topping become more marked.

-Harvest: given the lunar influence on the circulation of juices in plant tissues, it is recommended:
with a crescent moon, gather vegetables and fruits for fresh consumption, and in general all those products that you appreciate for the tenderness and juiciness.
with a waning moon, harvest seed, such as beans, peas, as also tinned tomatoes, fruit for jam, nuts like walnuts and hazelnuts, and in general all the products for the conservation and of rescheduled use.

The calendar of the garden

January-waning moon

-Trees and shrubs that lose their leaves, are planted when they are completely at rest, so they do not suffer from the low temperatures and possible drought.
Complete the cleansing of the dead parts and of the branches damaged.

-Rose: they need to be planted at this time, in cold climates, where they give no sign of revival.
February-crescent moon

-Trees and flowering shrubs: species are pruned that have already bloomed (Calicanto, Witch Hazel), so, at once, they start to form new buds. The same treatment should be given to plants that have lost the berries (Pyracantha, Cotoneaster etc.).

February-waning moon

-Annual: they are to be sown in the middle of the month, under shelter, for early spring flowering species (Ager, Petunia, Salvia etc.).
-Perennials: Spring-flowering species are divided and replanted, if you have not already done so in the autumn (Aubrezia, Arabida etc.). Vivacious species, or those who lose their bright leaves, are to be divided before awakening (Astro, Saponaria, Valerian,etc..).
-Lawn: at the awakening of vegetation, rake, mop up, sow to thicken stains dry.
-Climbing: the annuals of great development are sown directly into the ground, covered with dry leaves (morning glories, sweet peas, Ipomea etc.).
-Trees and shrubs: those with  bare root are to be planted not later than the end of the month. Carry out pruning, but not in areas that have late frosts.
-Hedges: Prune species that lose their leaves, to restore the geometry in view of the spring.
March- crescent moon

-Trees and flowering shrubs: prune all species that have already bloomed in this month (Forsizia etc.)
-Annual: sow all the species that have the flowering in summer / autumn (Zinnia, Cosmea etc.), also directly in the soil, but under shelter at night.
-Bulbs/ tubers: sow all the plants that have the flowering in summer/ autumn (garlic, amaryllis, mombrezia, Dalia, etc.) but the buds must already be in the process of awakening.
-Moltiplication: the plants that are already in the state of awakening, are reproduced by cuttings, layering and offshoot.
-Hydrangeas: as soon as the buds begin to swell,  prune or above a bud to flower (large) or above a bud wood (thin): the first to stimulate flowering, the second to encourage the growth of new branches.
-Perennials: the flowering annuals are replanted immediately (Campanula, Aubrezia etc.).
March-waning moon

-Trees and shrubs that lost their leaves: the last time to sow them in the earth. Be careful of their need of water, modest but steady.
-Rose: sow those that have their bread of earth. Prune carefully the burgeoning varieties.
April- crescent moon

-Annual: the species that have the flowering in summer/ autumn can be still sown, but they must be under shade during the day. Are to planted in the open all the species sown in vases.
-Bulbs/ tubers: it is the last moment to plant bulbs and tubers, flowering in summer / autumn, provided that they are equipped with well-developed buds. (Amaryllis, Dahlia, Begonia, Canna etc.)
-Moltiplication: cuttings and layers give excellent results in this month.
-Perennials: prune the plants with long stem, so that they could create compact clumps before their blossoming.
-Hedges: prune all the species, energically.

April- waning moon

-Leafy perennial: species grown for their foliage should be divided and pruned frequently to ensure they run out.
-Rose: cut the wild  stems arising at the base  from the roots and along the stem of the tree, below the point of grafting.
-Hedges: prune, especially in places where they tend to escape from the established forms.
May- crescent moon

-Trees and flowering shrubs: must be cut soon the withered tops, to allow  plants to form new flower buds for the following year (save the species with berries such as Pyracantha).
-Annuals: must be planted with the bread of earth, the autumn flowering ones (Ager, lobelia etc.).
-Perennials: must frequently be pruned the continues flowering species  (Alissa, Achillea etc.).
-Rose: the time of their complete flowering. You must gradually remove the faded flowers, cutting off below the third / fourth leaf.

May- waning moon

-Trees and shrubs: you must remove the branches that have no buds or those above the flowers. Time of suckering along the trunks and at the base of the plants.
-Perennials: thinning and clean up, uproot the plants that tend to invade the spaces or appear exhausted and dry.
– Lawn: shear with care, severing only the regrowth.
-Rose: the varieties that don’t flourish again, are to be induced to sleep, so that they can have the time to form new shoots, pruning the branches to 5 cm from the branch insertion.
June- crescent moon

-Trees and flowering shrubs: is the last possible moment to remove the branches that have finished flowering. (Lille, viburnum, spirea etc.).
-Moltiplication: cuttings and layers give excellent results with woody branches newly formed.
-Perennials: the grass withered, especially the species ground- cover, must be cut at the base to stimulate new growth.
-Climbing: the herbaceous vines are shortened drastically in favor of the next annual flowering.
June-waning moon

-Bulbs and tubers: you must cut the leaves of the species that have finished flowering. Must weed, and replant immediately organs of the hardy species; the organs of the non hardy species are extracted and preserved by the rules. Must pick up the small bulbs, born around the main one, and cultivate them in a suitable ground, and well fertilized, to make them swell.
-Lawn: it must be cut frequently, before the grasses make the ears and become yellow, and before the weeds go to flower, causing their dissemination.
July- crescent moon

-Bulbs and tubers: must plant the autumn flowering species (Dalia, lily etc.).
-Moltiplication: must perform the cuttings and layers with woody branches, branches of flowering shrubs and herbaceous species  and creepers.
-Perennials: most of them are in full blossoming and flowering (valerian, saponaria etc.); frequent removal of withered flowers.
-Rose: the varieties that don’t flourish again have completed the rest, must be awakened by cutting at the base the thicker branches, of very dark wood, and you should prune also the branches of the previous year.
The varieties that flourished again need to be supported by cutting the branches withered, to a third of their length.
July- waning moon

-Trees and flowering shrubs: it’s always necessary to remove the withered flowers in order to preserve the beauty of the whole foliage.
-Biennial plants: you must sow the seeds so that they can form a good root system before winter.
-Bulbs and tubers: you must cut the leaves of the species that have finished flowering. Must weed, and replant immediately organs of the hardy species; the organs of the non hardy species are extracted and preserved by the rules. Must pick up the small bulbs, born around the main one, and cultivate them in a suitable ground, and well fertilized, to make them swell.
-Hedges: you must eliminate the growth gradually.
August- crescent moon

-Bulbs: the species that bloom in late winter are to be planted, in places that have short summers.(Snowdrops, Tulips, Crocus etc.).
-Grafts: you must do them, when the bud is dormant.
-Moltiplication: cuttings and layers of the evrgreen species.
-Perennials: species that bloom in late winter should be transplanted (Aubrezia, primrose etc.).
-Lawn: the vegetation should be revived and supported by shearing and irrigation.
-Climbing: the evergreens are pruned to avoid being drained internally (honeysuckle, ivy, passion flower, etc..).
-Rose: you must gradually remove the faded flowers, cutting off below the third /fourth leaf.
August- waning moon

-Trees and shrubs: the withered plants are to be pruned to rebalce the foliage.
-Moltiplication: you must take the branches of the year, to make cuttings  to be placed in sand, in boxes, for the spring embedding of evergreens, hydrangeas and other flowering shrubs.
-Rose: the rose gardens that don’t flourish again, must be adjusted to accommodate the rest and the balance  of the vegetation.
September-crescent moon

-Annuals: species that will flower in the following spring, are sown in a protected crop (petunia, pansy, Agere etc.).
-Bulbs: the species that bloom in late winter are to be planted, in places that have short summers.(Snowdrops, Tulips, Crocus etc.).
-Perennials: species that are still in bloom are cut, to prolong the bloom itself (snapdragon, astro etc.). Must be replanted every flower species.
-Rose: you must gradually remove the faded flowers, cutting off below the third /fourth leaf.
September-waning moon

-Annuals: must sow all species cultivated for their foliage, but under shelter.
-Moltiplications: you must take the branches of the year, to make cuttings  to be placed in sand, in boxes, for the spring.
-Hedges: they must be finally regulated in all the details.
October-crescent moon

-Biennals: must plant the seedlings, sown in July. (pansies, forget-me not etc..)
-Annuals: must sow, under shelter, the species to be planted in the last phases of winter (ager, begonia, salvia).
-Bulbs: the species that bloom in late winter are to be planted, in places that have short summers.(Snowdrops, Tulips, Crocus etc.).
-Moltiplication: layes give good results in evergreen species and in some other species too (Spirea, forsitia etc.)
-Lawn: last shearing.

October-waning moon

-Trees and flowering shrubs: withered tops must be removed with care, except in early winter climates where, for this, you will have to wait until the following spring.
-Rose: promote their rest for the winter, by frequent husking.
-All plants: all the species that don’t tolerate temperature below 5° must be prepared for the shelter or to be rolled out an appropriate protection.

November-crescent moon

-Bulbs: sow the species who will flourish in spring/ summer (tulips, iris, hyacinth, narcissus, etc..)
November-waning moon

-Trees and shrubs: prune without danger, because the low temperature does not allow the development of buds.
-Climbing: those that form bowers must be trimmed, so that the weight of snow will not tear them or backgrounds.
-Rose: must be planted those that have the bare root. Drastically prune the varieties that bloom on the branches  which are formed in the following spring.
December-crescent moon

Trees and shrubs: prune, but avoid the too cold temperatures (below 0°).
run this time all the cleaning and husking…and await, Nature will do the rest!

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