Saturday, January 27, 2007

A tale of two flowers

I have always had a tiny personal garden - a flower/herb garden, sort of.

My mum was always the sort - no matter where we moved, no matter what teensy apartment or duplex or rental house - she'd scratch out a bit of a bed outside a window or around the door and plant things. (No, my dad was not military - he was a professional student - dragging us around through 3 states and a dozen houses by the time I graduated high school).

Depending on how long we were in a dwelling, mum would plant veggies, herbs, flowers. So when I set up housekeeping myself it was only natural that I'd have a door-step garden.

Since I'm now in the house I plan on living in the rest of my life (lawd willin' and the crick don't rise), I have carved out a little garden for myself.

Now, I tried to bring all the plants I could from my old house. Many of them were collected from cuttings from friends or my mother.

At the old house it was like living in a sandbox. The only native vegetation in the area are stunted scrub pines and those flat cactus we have here in South Carolina.

I could get almost nothing to grow and everything had to be mulched heavily and watered frequently. Subsequently many of the things were super hardy. Others languished and died.

Well, one of the plants I had acquired that I loved was from a very elderly lady. She called it "moonflower". It was a low, spindly plant that came back every year and had prickly round seed-pods and enormous white flowers that only bloomed at dusk.

None of my original 'moonflower' plants made it to the new house but I came across another elderly lady and her plants that she called 'angel trumpet'. These are quite similar, except they come in colours and the flowers hang down toward the ground. They are also quiet tall. I think I'll like them but I still pine for the ethereal moonflowers from my old house.

I finally decided to consult Gardener Google.

My angel trumpets are just that: some species of Brugmansia. They'll get tall, come back every year, and apparently have a wonderful fragrance.

What I was told was 'moonflower' is actually a close relative of Brugmansia called Datura (datura wrightii - jimson weed or thorn apple).

True moonflower (ipomoea alba) is a vine.

So here's my problem ...

I also found out that the plants are very poisonous. All parts contain atrophine and scopalomine. For this reason, I'll hold off on getting any more Datura ... but what about the Brugmansia? Should I leave it? My garden is where the babies play but they stay up on the lawn and know from babyhood not to mess with my plants. They are also never left out there unsupervised.

Am I being paranoid? I mean, we have pokeweed growing wild here and I have tomato plants all over. What do you think?



At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Heather said...

If it were me, I'd probably leave the plants where they are. My husband however, would make me move them. He is a paramedic and tends to be very paranoid about things like that. So all in all, it's probably safer to move them until all the babies are older.

At 10:27 AM, Anonymous VegaVixen said...

Your kids are more likely to eat the pokeberries, which look like fruit, than the flowers, which look like, um, flowers. And more likely to be hurt on the cactus, which is already a low probability.

Your two oldest are old enough to understand that those plants should not be disturbed, and old enough to watch the younger ones.

FWIW, I don't recall having ever eaten a flower in my childhood. I was too busy playing! *smile*


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