Tis the season of the witch. They are cackling and diabolical and dressed in flowing black with pointy hats and equally pointy noses.
They cast spells and cause mayhem and chaos. They access magic.
So, I must tell you. There is a witch living in our midst. (And no, I’m not referencing any political figures – eh… Christine O’Donnell – recently in the news)
Jennifer MacNeill Traylor is the witch. I know, because she uses her black magic in her garden.
She charms wildflower seed mix into producing a meadow in the shade. Weird sorcery urges her salmon-toned lupines to grow over five-feet tall. Yes, she can grow lupines in PA. Flowers mysteriously bloom in her garden in the winter AND she – unlike the rest of us – has the magic touch to keep all of the plants in her garden ALIVE. She admits it. She can’t kill a plant.
A witch with a hoe, she is. Secret spells and potions are the only explanation for the robust growth and bloom of Traylor’s gardens.
She grows tomatoes, even though she doesn’t like them. Sounds suspicious, right? She just “enjoys” growing them. She even lets her cilantro bolt just because she likes the flowers. She grows Lamb’s Ear in the shade.
Look at her garden design. Totally punk rock. Traylor will have none of this massing of plants for visual impact or only planting in groups of three or in larger groups of odd numbers of plants. SHE plants flowers where they “look nice”. Huge clumps of yellow yarrow dancing happily with blue delphiniums. Lilies cheerfully bloom two weeks ahead of schedule and mix shamelessly with Allium still in bloom. Witchrafted, beautifully.
A self-employed artist, Jennifer MacNeill Traylor’s gardening comes enchantingly from her soul and based in her love of beauty. The crime she stands accused of is casting jealousy in the hearts of other gardeners.
“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers,” she quotes Monet.
Traylor comes from a long line of gardeners and her art has been influenced by that and by growing up near horses. She specializes in equine art as well as holiday themed artwork. She finds Halloween most inspiring.
So it stands to reason that another of her supernatural powers is pumpkin carving. In 2003, Traylor and her mom entered the Chadds Ford Historical Society’s Great Pumpkin Carve. Originally started by members of the Wyeth family and other local artists in the 1970’s, the pumpkin carve draws talented artists each year.
She must have worked some pumpkin sorcery because that first year, to her “surprise” she won the event. She’s racked up other awards from that contest and took Best Over All Pumpkin again in 2008. Now, known as a pumpkin carver, Fox Home Entertainment hired her to carve eleven pumpkins for a celebration of the DVD release of Ice Age 3 in Philadelphia.
Jennifer MacNeill Traylor does work magic in her garden. But it’s magic that comes simply from her love of gardening.