Thursday, May 19, 2016

...poisonous plants and future plans...

"And some can pot begonias
and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust
with anything that grows...
~Rudyard Kipling
Even when the semester has ended and my workplace is mostly a ghost town where I am cleaning up odds and ends preparing for the end of being the department chair (gweee!) and prepping for my return to researching and teaching, life has been extremely stressful.  

I think my mood would lift if we would just have two consecutive days of sunshine; shoot, even one full day of sun would be nice. The rainy weeks have been so dreary. It seems odd to note that this evening I cannot go out for a walk due to a bear sighting. I have mentioned that I live in a town and not the woods, right? 
Heart Attacks and Old English with a skeleton friend
I was able to snap a few pictures this afternoon. Everything is soggy and needs to be weeded; the grass needs to be cut. The patio cushions need to dry out so that I can sit and soak up some vitamins. 

Earlier today, I bought a delphinium because 1.) I’m clearly just going to keep packing the flowers in until they take over and no one can find me in the yard; 2.) it is one of the prettiest damn flowers you’ll ever see; and 3.) I haven’t started a 10-step program for my garden addiction so even if I was only in the garden center for gloves, it was there.
Foxgloves have risen!

Delphiniums are fairytale flowers so it isn’t a real surprise when one finds them on the cover of Hallmark cards and tucked inside the pages of children’s picture books; however, while they are often shared for their beauty, they have caused a number of fatal poisonings. Delphiniums also do not have a very long life expectancy. I think there is a beautiful metaphor in there. And, of course, you really cannot trust these little guys; my foxgloves are supposed to be biennials but one just popped up this week. Oh you magical wondrous things! Don’t you know that you’re not supposed to exist anymore? That’s part of the beauty; they have no idea.

Today's peony bloom
I just realized that it probably is not the best idea to open a post about life struggles and dreariness, and then head into a discussion about poisonous plants. This is not *that* kind of blog but let me see if my mad-analysis skills can push through.

Beauty is sometimes short-lived. There are moments when everything looks perfect and lovely but sometimes these moments carry a poison. These times might be the dark days of delphiniums. Can we love a poisonous plant? Well, sure. Just don't try to eat it. I guess there is a metaphor there as well.

I’ll leave you with a planner. I’m looking forward to the future months. This afternoon before picking up a poisonous predator, I found the perfect planner by Day Designer called "Navy Floral" but I assure you it looks black up against all of my blacks and my blues. I love the month at a glance, a weekly view, and the monthly to-do lists. 
Here's to new growth, future plans, sunshine, and no one getting poisoned! 


  1. My foxgloves frequently bloom for a third year, and one tried to come back for a fourth! But my very favorite poisonous plant was the GORGEOUS datura flower that bloomed for me one year. Since they open at night and close up during the day, I had to get up very early and head to my community garden plot with my camera to catch it open. Unfortunately, the seeds never sprouted, so I only had it the one year. And I had to get rid of the dirt in the pot, because it couldn't be used for anything else; nothing will grow for a VERY long time where a datura plant has been. But it was sooooo beautiful... it haunts me to this day.

    1. Alright now THAT is a haunting story! I have morning glories in the backyard; I've wanted some night blooming plants because hey, it's 4:30 and I'm up (not getting ready but looking at my mobile...whatiswrongwithme!)

  2. We tend to overlook how toxic foxgloves are, but they are beautiful, they've self seeded in my front yard and look stunning when they grow. I need to weed but the aquilegia have also self seeded at random and I like to let them bloom.

    For work I once visited a Physic Garden, to assess them for a funding grant. It is an awesome place, dedicated to cultivating plants for use in medicine, including poisons. The owner was a medical researcher at a top university who in retirement had become fascinated by lost plant lore - and sometimes the medicine walks a very fine line between being fatal. She collected 'poison diaries' - chemists accounts of experiments on plants. I spent a very happy afternoon there, albeit trying not to notice that certain restricted plants were not caged as they are supposed to be in the UK (weed being the least of it).

    However when she offered my colleague and I some very suspicious looking home made tea we did have to decline!! One of my favourite ever site visits.

    1. I hope everyone reads Lucretia and your comments. Seriously! That's some spooky stuff. Ha ha ha "would you like some tea"... I can only imagine your face :D

      An afternoon browsing through poison diaries sounds fascinating though!

    2. I love the tea bit! Was this the famous poison garden or somewhere else?

    3. It was awesome and the lady I met was brilliant, a fascinating person. It's not the famous poison garden at Alnwick, all the plants there are caged and access is very restricted - I've been there too as a normal visitor and it's interesting in it's own right. But for sheer quirky loveliness, the Dilston Physic Garden in Northumberland was just lovely. It's a while since I was there, it looks a great deal more publicly focused these days (still beautiful though).

      My dad was a chemist. I inherited his poison diaries in which he (and his tutor before him) studied the properties of plants (and occasionally did poison autopsies on body parts). I don't understand more than 1 in 4 words, but love having them.

  3. I love talking about plants that harm and heal. Foxglove is used in heart medicine. And then there's a poison, ricin from the same plant that makes castor oil! Lilies are poison to pets because they're silly enough to eat them. I've only seen the French TV series of The Count of Monte Cristo, not read the book, but there was a fascinating character who knew natural plant poisons.of course, I wouldn't poison anyone, too much effort!

  4. I love poisonous plants, and have grown quite a few in my days. Right now though I only have my (shed-sized) Belladonna.