Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the official first day of winter, occurs later this month (December 21st). For most of us it passes without notice, but this wasn’t the case in ancient times. Many cultures had celebrations around this date, just as we celebrate Christmas very close to the solstice. Winter Solstice was, in Celtic lore, the time when the Oak King and the Holly King battled for supremacy. In this tradition, the Oak King rules until Summer Solstice, when the Holly King reigns until the cycle begins again.


Summer and Winter Solstice were important to ancient gardeners, who watched the sun, sky, and weather for warnings and portents. Old wives’ tales still exist (and many still go by them) that recommend planting by the light of the moon and other traditions based on a belief in myth and magic.


One legend that is still popular today is that of the Green Man, a figure often represented in carvings or sculptures. The Green Man is easily recognizable by the vines and leaves growing in and around his face. Although some representations of the Green Man can be quite frightening, with vegetation creeping out of every orifice, traditionally the Green Man symbolizes rebirth. 


There are many myths and legends related to plants, and gardens have long been considered magical places. These books offer insights into garden legend and lore, both ancient and modern. What are your favorite garden legends? Do you practice any mystical gardening methods, and, if so, do they work?  




Becke Davis is the senior writer for The Landscape Contractor magazine, a member of Garden Writers of America and the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association. She has written well over 1,000 published articles and is the author of five garden-related books in addition to being the moderator of B&N's Garden and Mystery book clubs.








0 Kudos
by Author JeanneAdamsAKADuchesse on ‎12-08-2009 06:57 PM

Hi Becke!  I have and love both these books!  Great post.

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎12-09-2009 12:00 AM

Hi Jeanne -- Hope you are having a fun birthday. I've always been fascinated with the Green Man legend. I have one in my yard, but he's not exactly traditional!

About Garden Variety: The BN Gardening Blog
Welcome to Garden Variety, a common ground for gardening enthusiasts in the B&N community. Each day, our resident experts, guest bloggers, and B&N staff produce articles on evergreen topics and growing trends in the realm of landscaping. From seasonal plants and edible gardens to book suggestions and landscape innovations, this is the place where ideas flourish.


Since 1997, you’ve been coming to to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.