Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Time to dream of castor bean

I had planned to enumerate all the failures and successes of the 2006 gardening season—it is that time—but that's so depressing. Fortunately today's mail brought the always-fabulous Select Seeds catalog, and I was able to drift away in its pages, tangerini in hand, fantasizing about all the exotic annuals I'll be installing next spring. Even some from seed: castor bean, zinnia, amaranth. (Never mind that I'm never successful with seeds.) Then there are the plants: Queen Vick's favorite geranium, every tall nicotiana available, climbing petunias, wacky coleus, and much more. Datura or brugmansia? Maybe. Next will come the Bluestone, and we'll do the perennials.

I love catalog time, which generally lasts from late December through early March (when they begin to sell out). This is my insurance that whatever the selection at local nurseries in late spring, I won't be restricted to the same-old, same-old.

There are much bigger problems with the garden, but the catalogs allow me to escape them. In any case, I'll be ready this year. I received 3 pairs of gardening gloves (one monogrammed) over the holidays, so that should help.


firefly said...

Ha. I got my Select Seeds catalog today too, and the shark music from "Jaws" started up in the background when I flipped through it :-)

Since I have four beds that are annuals only, seeds will be the only thing I let myself go wild on this year. I think I have to step back for a while to see how the permanent sections of the garden fill out with the things I planted last year before I add anything else.

Carol said...

Monogrammed garden gloves? My, those sound nice!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

It's definitely a good thing that garden catalog season lasts so long... I need a few months to whittle my huge wishlists down to something more manageable, budget-wise! lol.

Hope you have a Happy New Year!

Ki said...

Castor bean plant are very poisonous. The poison ricin is made from the bean and all parts of the plant are toxic. Ricin is so toxic that just a minute amount can kill a person. Remember the Russian diplomat who was jabbed with an umbrella, killed by suspected KBG agents with ricin stuck in a tiny steel sphere. So if you have kids or animals I would have second thoughts about planting it. Our neighbor two houses down the street grows several plants every year. They grow to about 10 feet or more but easily felled by strong winds. Wonderfully tropical looking, great purple green color and quite architectural but...

EAL said...

Well, I can't believe the poison would be as virulent in the unprocessed plant form. I do know it's poisonous and I know a lot of people who grow it too, including our local botanical gardens, which would definitely have liability issues as a public site.

Many plants are poisonous, actually. But animals seem pretty smart about this kind of thing. Certainly I have noticed no decimation in the squirrel or stray cat popualtion in spite of all the pokeweed, colchicums, monkshood, etc. that abound in my neighborhood.

Ki said...

Here's a Cornell U. site that addresses the toxicity of the castor bean plant.

and also on this website:

I don't want to be contentious but cats usually don't eat plants except for grass at least in my minimal observation of the 10 or more cats we've had. I've seen squirrels eat only new leaves and shoots of certain kinds of trees not that I'm a great observer of what squirrels eat so even if there's a lot of pokeweed available I haven't seen anything eat it. Besides these are not in the same category of toxicity as the castor bean or for that matter Jimsonweed (Datura) which some crazy teens here tried to get high on some seeds and had to be hospitalized.

There are all kinds of plants that are poisonous that municipalities plant and I'm puzzled that they aren't more concerned about liability. Perhaps this is through ignorance? I see Nerium oleander commonly sold here and planted in public places even though it's a very poisonous plant if ingested. Again is this a good thing to do for beautification or is it ignorance?

Please read this not as an attack on your choice of plants but as some (unasked for) cautionary advice.