Yes, it’s October, and the lovely deadly monkshood (Aconitum) is in bloom.
This is quite exciting for me, because typically my monkshood plant does not bloom, deadly or otherwise. I moved it in the early spring, to a more shaded location, and it has done better than last year. But still the flowers are few and it isn’t entirely happy.
I think I over-reacted, and now it suffers from a lack of light. But it benefited from not drying out. So perhaps I just need to give it another year of adjusting to the location. Or perhaps I should dig it up again and find it a bit more sun.
In any case, it is a beautiful, dramatic plant, but all parts of it, even the pollen and the roots, are toxic. It is also called wolfbane, and its poison was used on arrowheads and on bait left out for marauding wolves in medieval Europe.
It has always been considered to be a magical plant, and was said to be one of the ingredients witches used to create the legendary mix needed for flying.
I used to avoid monkshood, because of the scary stories of its toxicity. But then I learned that some other things are also poison, like all parts of rhododendrons and azaleas, lily-of-the-valley, larkspur, hellebore, foxglove… it is a very long list. Really a hungry person just shouldn’t seek lunch in the flower garden. And don’t eat the rhubarb leaves or tomato leaves either.
We have some color. This is an Oregon native viburnum (I believe it is Viburnum edule). I love it’s soft rosy look– I don’t know if it’s poison. (It would be pretty in a salad–but no.) It is also called highbush cranberry, and there can be edible berries.
This is the same plant in early June. The flowers are delicate and snowy white, and it is a great garden shrub, growing to 12 feet tall if unchecked. It grows rather easily from summer cuttings. (Tip: could be because the hormone powder I use on cuttings is so very, very old.)
The sumac has turned blood red. I don’t like the sumac, so its autumn color is about the only interesting thing I can note about it. (Mr O and I have a difference of opinion about the sumac and the outcome is still pending. Enjoy the color while you can because I might win the argument.)
If you read my previous post about the my yellow jacket crisis, you may be interested to know that it only took one more day before I lost my resolve to wait it out. I couldn’t work anywhere outside without wasps landing on me or circling or giving me angry looks. (You know those wasp looks.)
So I became busy searching online for mint spray (deadly to wasps, just as Ben suggested in his comment) but at the same time Mr O quietly found some powdered boric acid he had on hand, took it outside and poured a cup of it over the nest entrance.
The image above shows the site, with frustrated wasps planning their solution. They dug back into the hole, but boric acid is pretty much bad news for any insect, and now, maybe five days later, the wasp population that was scattered all over the yard is missing. Mr O was even able to cover the powder against the rain, so the remaining wasps are still tracking it into the nest on their wasp feet.
Yes it is autumn. Things are changing every day, and it’s making Max a little nervous, but now he doesn’t have to hide under the bathtub.
It’s just that I heard noises in the house again last night. Mr. O says it’s squirrels, or mice. Moving in for winter. I don’t know…
I find comfort working outside in the gardens, until it begins to get dark.