Vampire’s Garden: Love-Lies-Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth
Photo from http://www.adaptiveseeds.com

Note: For my readers who don’t know, I’ve written a series of posts called “Vampire’s Garden” about plants and their history and uses. This is the first post in the series, about Love Lies Bleeding, the plant that gave my book its title. Let me know what you think, and feel free to suggest plants for future posts…

If you’ve read Love Lies Bleeding, you’ll know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained when she was still human, she continues to study plants and have a garden. This post will be the first in a series exploring Mara’s plants. Are you  interested in botany, gardening, or plant lore? So are some vampires…

Please note: Medicinal uses are given for historical interest only. Always consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating yourself or anyone else.

Latin name: Amaranthus caudatus

Common names: Love-Lies-Bleeding, Pendant Amaranth, Tassel Flower, Velvet Flower, Foxtail Amaranth

History: Native to South America, this and other varieties of Amaranthus were grown for their edible, protein-rich seeds. The Aztecs also used it in religious ceremonies, which led to the Spanish conquerors making its cultivation a capital offense (they still never managed to wipe it out). Some varieties were used to make a red dye, and betacyanins, which give Amaranthus their red colour, are still used to produce non-toxic food dyes. Medicinally, it has been used to treat swelling, ulcers, and diarrhea.

Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: hopeless love or hopelessness

Cultivation: Annual. Easy to grow from seed, Love-Lies-Bleeding prefers full sun and is both drought and moisture tolerant. It grows to be 3 to 8 feet (1 to 2.5 metres) tall. Seeds can be started indoors and transplanted outside after the last frost (start in April to transplant in May). Sow or thin to 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm). Can self sow but generally isn’t weedy.

Uses: Ornamental, cut flowers, edible (seeds and leaves). You might be familiar with amaranth, a gluten-free “grain” made from the seeds, which can also be ground into flour.

Wildlife: Birds love the seeds–leave plants in the garden over winter for the birds.

Mara’s Uses: Following the Doctrine of Signatures, Mara considers Love-Lies-Bleeding to be a potential ingredient in her theoretical blood substitute.

Bonus: Mara’s full name is Amarantha, which shares a root and meaning with Amaranthus: “unwilting” or “unfading.”

Further Reading:

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Adaptive Seeds

The Sacramento Bee

Wikipedia

WebMD

Inhabitat

What to Do with Amaranth

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

🧿

Vampire’s Garden: Bleeding Heart

Vampire's Garden: Bleeding Heart, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Bleeding heart plant, garden, gardening, vampire, vampires
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Love Lies Bleeding‘s readers know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained when she was still human, she continues to study plants and have a garden. This post is fourteenth in a series exploring Mara’s plants. Are you interested in botany, gardening, or plant lore? So are some vampires…

Please note: Medicinal uses are given for informational purposes only. Always consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating yourself or anyone else.

Caution: All parts are poisonous to humans and animals if ingested. Coming into contact with the plant can also be irritating to skin.

Botanical Name: Laprocapnos spectabilis (AKA Dicentra spectabilis)

Common Names: Bleeding Heart, Lady’s Locket, Lady’s Heart, Lyre Flower, Fallopian Buds, heart flower, lady-in-a-bath

History: Native to northeastern Asia. There is a Japanese legend that claims the flower sprang from the blood of a brokenhearted suitor (read it here). Another version has the princess’s heart bleeding eternally for her lost suitor. After being introduced in the UK, it became so popular that it was once called “the finest hardy plant of the 19th century.” And then it fell out of fashion for being too common (fickle Victorians). Bleeding Heart is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve circulation, treat bruises and sores, and as a painkiller.

Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: Compassion

Cultivation: Zones 2 to 9. Perennial. Prefers shade or part shade (you can get away with full sun if you live in a northern area). Bleeding Heart likes rich, consistently moist, well-draining soil, and appreciates organic mulch to help with moisture retention and nutrients. Plant in spring or fall. Bleeding Heart usually goes dormant in summer– you can cut back the stems once the leaves have turned yellow or brown. Continue to water/keep moist while dormant. To get better blooms, work slow-release fertilizer and compost into the soil around the plant when it first emerges in spring. Grows to about 1 metre (3 ft) tall and 30 cm to 1 metre (1 to 3 ft) wide. Propagate by division every few years. Bleeding Heart is deer and rabbit resistant.

Uses:

Houseplant (not recommended if you have pets or young children): If you can recreate the preferred growing conditions for Bleeding Heart, it will grow as a houseplant. Ideally it prefers a room temperature of about 18C (65F).

Cut Flower: Flowering stems will last up to 2 weeks in a vase.

Crafts: The flowers are ideal for pressing. From Almanac.com: Pick flowers early in the morning after the dew has dried. Put the flowers between paper and place between the pages of a thick book. After a couple of weeks you’ll have perfect flat, papery hearts.

Mara’s Uses: With its red shoots, heart-like flowers, and “bleeding” name, Bleeding Heart would definitely be on Mara’s list of plants to try for her herbal blood substitute.

Further Reading:

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Bleeding Hearts Flower Care- How to Grow Bleeding Heart

How to Grow and Care for Bleeding Heart

Almanac

Bleeding Heart: An Old-Fashioned Charmer

Wikipedia: Laprocapnos

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

🧿

It’s the (not so) Little Things

It's the (not so) Little Things, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. Houseplants, garden, gardening, calamondin orange, citrus trees. Photo by Scott Morrison
Photo by Scott Morrison

Sometimes you don’t realize how much you need something until you get it. In my case what I needed was a happier plant.

My calamondin orange was suffering in a too-small pot for far too long. I kept putting off re-potting, wanting to do it after we moved, but since that’s taking longer than anticipated I finally decided to take care of the plant now.

After transferring it to a bigger pot, pruning, and staking it, I was tired, but also feeling accomplished. It was like a weight had been lifted. Giving the plant what it needed made me feel good. I highly recommend it.

I also discovered that my once-tiny houseplant has gotten huge! It really wasn’t obvious until I was finished and took a step back. How dwarf is a dwarf citrus tree anyway?

It's the (not so) Little Things, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. Houseplants, garden, gardening, calamondin orange, citrus trees. Photo by Scott Morrison
Photo by Scott Morrison

By the way, you can use calamondin oranges to make cake, juice (aka Filipino lemonade), or– if you’re like my SO (who also snacks on lemons)– you can eat them straight off the branch, rind included.

What little thing has lifted your spirits lately? Share in the comments…

My character Mara loves plants too. She’s also a vampire. Download my books and find out more…

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

🧿

Vampire’s Garden: Queen Anne’s Lace

By Christian Fischer, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15779192

Love Lies Bleeding‘s readers know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained when she was still human, she continues to study plants and have a garden. This post is thirteenth in a series exploring Mara’s plants. Are you interested in botany, gardening, or plant lore? So are some vampires…

Please note: Medicinal uses are given for informational purposes only. Always consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating yourself or anyone else.

Warning: Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum), Water Hemlock (Cicuta douglasii), and Fool’s Parsley (Aethusa cynapium) are toxic plants that can easily be mistaken for Queen Anne’s Lace. Don’t harvest wild QAL unless you are absolutely sure you have the right plant!

From Wikipedia: D. carota is distinguished by a mix of tripinnate leaves, fine hairs on its solid green stems and on its leaves, a root that smells like carrots, and occasionally a single dark red flower in the center of the umbel.[9] Hemlock is also different in tending to have purple mottling on its stems, which also lack the hairiness of the plain green Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot) stems.

Botanical Name: Daucus carota

Common Names: wild carrot, bishop’s lace, bird’s nest weed, lace flower, devil’s plague, bee’s nest

History: Native to temperate Europe and southwest Asia, and naturalized in North America, Australia and New Zealand, Queen Anne’s Lace is the wild form of the carrots in your vegetable drawer. The white flower clusters sometimes have a dark red or purple floret in the centre, which inspired the name Queen Anne’s Lace. The dark spot is said to be a drop of Queen Anne’s* blood, a result of pricking her finger as she was making lace (the spot actually serves to attract insects). Queen Anne’s Lace has been used as a food throughout history: the roots have been eaten as a cooked vegetable, and thanks to its high sugar content it has even been used to sweeten other foods. In England it was once believed that the dark floret could cure epilepsy. First Nations peoples used the plant medicinally to treat blood disorders, skin conditions, and diabetes (please do not try this at home).

*The Queen Anne in question could be Queen Anne of England (wife of James I), Anne of Denmark, or even Anne Boleyn.

Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: Sanctuary

Cultivation: Biennial. Prefers full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. Blooms from late spring until autumn of its second year. Queen Anne’s Lace is easy to care for and requires only occasional watering. If you plan on growing carrots for seeds, don’t grow Queen Anne’s Lace– the plants will cross-pollinate and your carrots will produce QAL seeds. Don’t plant QAL near apples if you’re going to eat the roots, because apples affect the flavour, making the roots bitter. If you don’t want it spreading everywhere, then it’s best to plant Queen Anne’s Lace where it can be contained. You can help prevent the spread by deadheading the flowers. Remove plants by digging them up (be sure to get the entire taproot). Can be found growing wild on roadsides and in fields, but don’t harvest it unless you’re 100% able to confidently identify it.

Companion planting: Queen Anne’s Lace attracts beneficial insects, and has been found to be especially helpful when planted next to blueberries and tomatoes.

Note: Some states and provinces have listed QAL as a noxious/invasive weed, so check with your local government or invasive species organization before planting it.

Uses:

Culinary: the roots can be cooked and eaten like carrots when they’re young and tender. You can also dry, roast, and grind them to make a coffee substitute. The flowers can be battered and fried, added to salads, or used in drinks and to make jelly. Chop young leaves (from first year plants) and add to salad. Use the seeds to flavour soups and stews.

Medicinal: The roots and seeds are used as a diuretic. The grated root can be mixed with honey and used as a poultice to treat minor wounds and sores.

From The Woodrow Wilson Foundation Leadership Programs for Teachers:

“It is still used by some women today as a contraceptive; a teaspoon of seeds are thoroughly chewed, swallowed and washed down with water or juice starting just before ovulation, during ovulation, and for one week thereafter.”

Dye: The flowers produce an off-white colour. Using different mordants will result in yellows, golds, shades of orange, and forest green.

Science Experiment to Demonstrate Capillary Action: If you place the freshly cut flowers in coloured water (make by adding food colouring to water and mixing well), the flowers will slowly change colour to match the water.

Wildlife: Queen Anne’s Lace attracts beneficial insects to the garden. It’s a food source for Black Swallowtail butterfly larvae. Some birds also eat the seeds.

Caution: Do not consume Queen Anne’s Lace if you’re pregnant (the plant was traditionally used as an abortifacient). Be careful while handling the foliage as the leaves can cause photo sensitivity and dermatitis.

Mara’s Uses: Mara might use QAL in some of her herbal remedies, but its association with blood would probably interest her more.

Further Reading:

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Wikipedia

Growing and Caring for Queen Anne’s Lace

Edible Wild Food

Detailed Description of Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace: Symbolism and Meaning

Queen Anne’s Lace: Butterfly Host Plant and Blueberry Protector

Three Herbs: Yarrow, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Indian Pipe

Instructions on Dyeing with Queen Anne’s Lace

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

10 Stunning Writers’ Homes

I love old houses (old buildings in general, actually). While I can appreciate the practical benefits of a new house, they can be a bit… boring (and after seeing the “same” new house a thousand times while house hunting, I’m even more bored of them now). Old houses have style. They have personality. They have soul. Throw in a resident writer and you’ve got a house worth living in (or at least visiting– see below for links). Here are 10 writers’ houses that are worth checking out…

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com.  Thomas Hardy, Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England.

Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England: The cottage where Thomas Hardy was born. I love the thatched roof and garden.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com.  Agatha Christie, Greenway Estate, Galmpton, Devon, England

Galmpton, Devon, England: Greenway Estate, home to Agatha Christie, was designated a World Heritage Site in 2004. Christie set several of her novels in the area.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com.  Eugene O'neill, Tao House, Danville. California

Danville, California, USA: Eugene O’Neill wrote The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey Into Night at Tao House. This looks like a cozy space to work.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, Monk's House, Rodmell, East Sussex, England, Bloomsbury Group.

Rodmell, East Sussex, England: Not only is Monk’s House where Virginia Woolf worked on Mrs. Dalloway, it was also where she hosted the Bloomsbury Group.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Emily Dickinson, The Homestead, Amherst, Massachusetts,

Amherst, Massachusetts, USA: With a house like this, I can understand why Emily Dickinson was a recluse. The poet didn’t spend her entire life at the Homestead, but she was born here, and after moving back as a young woman spent the rest of her life here.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Alphonse Daudet, Letters from My Windmill, Draveil, Champrosay, Paris, France, Zola, Proust, Rodin

Draveil (former village of Champrosay), France: Can I just go ahead and move into Alphonse Daudet’s home, located a few kilometres south of Paris? Daudet finished Letters from My Windmill here, and also held famous weekly gatherings of the luminaries of the French arts scene (Zola, Proust & Rodin were among the regulars).

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . George Sand, Nohant, Indre, France, Frederic Chopin.

Nohant, Indre, France: More gorgeous French style at George Sand’s home. Sand wrote many of her books here, as well as hosting artists, musicians, and writers (Frédéric Chopin lived, and composed, here for several years). The house has been classified as a National Historic Monument of France.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Hartford, Connecticut.

Hartford, Connecticut, USA: Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in this house’s billiards room, which also doubled as his study. I wonder if he got distracted by billiards the way modern writers get distracted by the internet.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Edith Wharton, The Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts, The Decoration of Houses

Lenox, Massachusetts, USA: Edith Wharton’s grand home, The Mount, was where she wrote most of her novels, and where she presumably implemented the advice from her first book (co-authored with Ogden Codman), The Decoration of Houses. 

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Louisa May Alcott, Orchard House, Little Women, Concord, Massachusetts

Concord, Massachusetts, USA: Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women. A lot of Victorian interiors can seem fussy or claustrophobic, thanks to the “more still isn’t enough” design aesthetic of the time, but this room feels light and pleasant.

What’s your favourite writer’s home? Share in the comments…

What kind of house would a vampire live in? Get my books to find out…

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Further Reading:

Orchard House

The Mount

The Mark Twain House and Museum

George Sand House

Alphonse Daudet House

Emily Dickinson Museum

Monk’s House

Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site

Thomas Hardy Cottage

Architectural Digest

KQED Arts

New England Historical Society

Boston Globe

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

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