Good for you?

Tomatoes….poison or panacea? The Solanum family includes deadly nightshade, along with peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. I once had a neighbor in Iowa who told me to use deadly nightshade in my cooking. She did it all the time! She pointed to the plant growing under our deck — the one the USDA was warning about sickening the local livestock — and urged me not to “waste it.”

Her native China may have a plant that looked similar, or maybe she built up an immunity to it, along with her Caucasian husband and their lovely, healthy son. Or maybe deadly nightshade (Belladonna) is not as poisonous as we once thought. I really didn’t have the inclination to try it! Continue reading “Good for you?”

Trendscoffer (Part 2)

You might say that this is the “flip side” to the last column published here. I hope my traditional scoffing at new and trendy things hasn’t sunk in so deeply that I reject anything new without considering its value, especially given my failure with the new Echibeckia I outlined in my last column.

As with almost anything, moderation and middle ground is the answer, as well as careful consideration with an open mind and open Bible.

While we don’t run to embrace the newest things, we don’t run the other way, either. Continue reading “Trendscoffer (Part 2)”


The nice, soaking rains that came to our middle Tennessee gardens this month were more than welcome after the heat and drought of this brutally long summer. Along with the rains came the return of all kinds of fungus, including those pretty yard mushrooms arranged in a darling little fairy ring on the lawn.

One of my friends wondered if they were good to eat. They certainly looked it! They even smelled nice. I warned her in no uncertain terms about eating mushrooms without proper identification. Another friend chimed in that some of them are delicious…for one time only! Continue reading “Pro-choice”

Feelings on your shirtsleeves

The tiny vase lapel pin that I usually wear on Sundays is now expected by my fellow worshippers. The little lantana that graced it on a recent Sunday caught the eye of one sister, who knows that I also like to share a photo of a flower every day on social media, calling it my “daily dose of sanity.”

“Well!” she exclaimed, “I see you have your ‘sanity’ here with you today, right on your lapel!”

“Yes,” I said. “Portable sanity! I love it.”

We both shared a laugh and a hug. Continue reading “Feelings on your shirtsleeves”

Accidentally on purpose

They look pretty happy together. The canary-yellow Thunbergia was planted on the metal archway on purpose, although in hindsight it would have looked better to plant one on the other side as well. But the bright red Cypress Vine was one of the many volunteers that came up because I don’t weed that area as often as other spaces.

The two of them made a very pretty pair, sprawling off the archway and moseying on their merry way across the top of the antique iron fence. As they met and made acquaintance with the volunteer cherry tomatoes, they intertwined further with their new friend. Continue reading “Accidentally on purpose”

Through all and in all

It’s that time of year to think about planting bulbs for a beautiful winter and spring! The first thing to do is to dig up the now-dormant bulbs that need to be spread out into other areas. In the process of doing that, we often end up digging up ground covers that have also exploded in growth over the past year.

It is quite the challenge to find new places for ground covers and other spreading plants. One such plant is the lovely Sheffield mum. While it isn’t exactly a ground cover, it acts like one; spreading its stolons just under the surface of the soil to pop up as new plants further and further away from the original.

The nicest thing about this close relative of your common florist’s chrysanthemum is that it stays pretty small and wispy all summer as it weaves its way through the irises and daylilies. Continue reading “Through all and in all”

Gargoyles and gaffes

Gargoyles and other statuary can add a whimsical touch to the garden if you know how to place your garden art. I’m just learning how to use art in the flower beds, and I’m really drawn to “ugly” art such as gargoyles and trolls.

Historically, gargoyles were meant to ward off evil spirits. Their imposing, frightening visages graced many prominent buildings, including notable Catholic churches such as Notre Dame. The use of these strange, scary images for this mystical purpose was not without its critics, however. Continue reading “Gargoyles and gaffes”

Keeping it real

Would you like to see the weedy patches in my garden? I thought not.

There is a new trend on social media to display our less-than-perfect living spaces and gardens. This concept and practice evolved from a backlash against the depressing notion that we cannot attain to the perfection of our neighbors’ lives, as portrayed by only showing the good and not the bad.

This trend has also morphed into an ugly fad of “keeping it real” by picking apart and pointing out flaws in people. It has become popular to pick out the flaws in formerly respected historical figures, national leaders, and even our church leaders.

People aren’t perfect? What a surprise! Continue reading “Keeping it real”