Welcome to my garden. Open the gate and step in, but mind the brambles and thorns. Careful to not crush the bleeding heart. Don’t bump the spiny eccentricity of the Solanum pyracanthum unless you like a good blood-letting.
And watch the vines; they sneak up on you in this murky light. I suppose I should exert a bit of control over these beautiful savages but they seem to have a mind of their own. The beds run amok and good help is hard to find.
You’re a gardener, aren’t you? It’s so nice to entertain someone who appreciates things that bloom and grow. Of course, death and decay are equally important in a garden, don’t you agree? Consider these white calla lilies (so lovely atop a casket); how could we admire their pale perfection if not for their fleeting existence? In the garden, beauty requires sacrifice. Would the weeping willow be as lovely if its leaves did not fall like tears each autumn to bare its naked soul to the icy heart of winter?
Here now, have a cup of tea. I brewed it from my own herbs. As you sip, we will go in search of my Dracunculus vulgaris. You may know it as voodoo lily. No, that’s not a corpse you smell — at least, I think not. The voodoo lily’s lascivious, liver-purple spathe and spadix attract pollinating flies with the perfume of death. Don’t let its malodorous esters interfere with your enjoyment of the tea.
I don’t have many visitors, you know. Ridiculous rumors. Unfortunate tales of grimoires and gris-gris and other gossip of the simple-minded. But let’s talk of you. You’re new in town. No family, you say? A pity. I’m sure you will find a home here: a place you can stay forever.
Now let me introduce you to “Lucifer.” Crocosmia “Lucifer,” to be precise. Its unrepentantly red blooms smolder like the embers of incendiary insanity, don’t you agree? I’m afraid it’s engaged in a duel to the death with the spiky bludgeons of globe thistle, Echinops ritro. It is a contest the plants themselves will decide; in the garden, it’s a mistake to pretend that we are the ones in charge.
What? Voices, you say? No, no. That’s just the wind in the branches. Take care as you pass the Gunnera manicata. Something has been taking bites big as washtubs from the leaves. Yes, how clever of you; it is known as “dinosaur food.” Farther down the path lurks the impenetrable Eryngium giganteum “Miss Willmott’s Ghost.” Her armature may be daunting, but her manners are lovely.
Just past the blood grass and the spidery seed heads of Allium christophii lies the deepest recesses of the garden. This is where I sow the beautiful abominations of monkshood, belladonna, devil’s weed and opium poppy. Mind altering, yes — some deadly — but I find them indispensible in my numinous pursuits. But enough talk. Finish your tea.
An open grave? How fanciful of you! It’s only a hole for a new witch hazel. We like to dig large. Lots of room for the roots, you know. Are you feeling unwell? Have a seat here by the Corokia cotoneaster and relax your mind. Tell me, what do you think of my little garden plot? There’s no need for you to leave now — or ever, in fact. I have a place for you right here. Good help is so hard to find…
More Spooky Plants
This article was first published in the print edition of the WestSound Magazine in the Fall of 2011. Any discrepancies, omissions, or inclusions that seem incorrect are purely due to the age of this article. WestSound Magazine deemed this article useful and beneficial as a contribution to today's readership, and therefore is included in this site's online article archives. If you feel the content of this article is detrimental due to its age, please feel free to contact us to request removal or modification.
Co-author of the how-to guide Gardening for the Homebrewer: Plants for Making Beer, Wine, Gruit, Cider, Perry, and More, Wendy Tweten's work has been featured in many national and regional publications including Organic Gardening. In addition to speaking and covering home and garden topics she pens a humor column for the Kingston Community News.