*Warning* this blog contains pictures of spiders!
You have the ‘Garden of Eden’ so why not have a … Garden of Death!
“In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death.” ~Sam Llewelyn … Probably the truest garden quote there is.
So what is a garden of death?
Well, all of them: the plants, wildlife from both the ground and the air… it is all around us.
Every garden has its potential killers, poisonous plants, silent assassins, aerial attackers and also those cuddly little pets that have a habit of bringing in near dead animals as a little present for you.
So for the animals that call the garden their home, every day is a battle for survival and for many, they are never very far from their potential killer.
As for living in the UK, a lot of the wildlife poses little or no threat to us humans but now and then, it may give us a nasty bite or sting. Being a Head Gardener, I have often wondered what it must be like writing a risk assessment in a Australian gardens department concerning the wildlife. Where the crocodiles, snakes, spiders, scorpions and countless other creatures pose a very serious threat to human life.
It is when we get to our plants, is when it gets really interesting … real killers are involved …
From the middle ages this cuddly looking critter has been associated with the Devil!
It takes on the pose of a scorpion when threatened by raising its abdomen and widening its jaws. It can also emit a foul smell from its abdomen area and excrete a nasty fluid from its mouth … can give a nasty bite but is not dangerous to humans.
It is mainly a nocturnal predator feeding on slugs, worms, spiders and woodlice etc along with carrion. Often can be found during the day under logs and stones.
Beautiful varied coloured spider, that produces the most intricate of all webs to catch their prey.
They feed on mainly flying insects that are unlucky enough to land on her web including Wasps.
She builds a silken egg sac to lay her eggs in before she dies in the autumn … the spiderlings hatch out in the following spring … ah!
Now this little terror I would not pick up! Why? (because I’m a chicken) This is one of only a few spiders in this country that can give you a nasty bite … plus it is an ugly looking bugger!
There venom is not dangerous but the bite can be painful, some have suffered an allergic reaction to the venom.
Mainly nocturnal hunters, their favourite prey being the woodlouse. It can be found during the day under logs, stones and other debris … you’d better check under the duvet tonight.
Non venomous, their prey is mainly amphibians but sometimes it will take small mammals; they are also a very good swimmer.
It is our largest snake, often found in compost heaps, near streams or ditches; they will do no damage in your garden and are not aggressive.
Our only venomous snake, they feed on small mammals and Lizards and are widely distributed throughout the UK; they prefer areas of acidic soil mainly woodland and heathland. Very rarely seen in the garden.
Their bite is said not to be serious to a healthy adult human, but medical attention is needed if you are bitten.
Winged demons … evil little sods!
Seriously, very important part of the ecosystem, eating flies, aphids, caterpillars as well as being sweet toothed munching on fruit, nectar and rubbish. Wasps, like bees are important pollinators.
Now for the plants.
The wildlife would happily find their own way in, but what if you were putting a garden of death together; what plants could you put in the garden?
Many, unlike some of the wildlife, are often beautiful in appearance and on first glance show no signs of being a potential killer.
All parts of this tree are poisonous. It is the seed pods that are usually eaten by children, that can cause nausea and vomiting; can be fatal if a large quantity is eaten.
All parts, except from the flesh of the berries is poisonous! Often with no symptoms when poisoning occurs, death may follow within a few hours. If symptoms do occur, it is usually coldness, trembling and a weak pulse. Yew still remains poisonous even when the plant dies.
It is one of the most poisonous plants in the garden, along with being one of the most popular. Only a small amount will give you a serious gastric upset, it’s the effect on the heart which can be the cause of death.
Datura/Brugmansia can cause confusion, delirium and hallucinations if eaten, along with drowsiness and sleep. All parts of the plant is poisonous, and again it can be fatal if eaten.
Yet another very popular garden plant. Affects the heart by slowing it down thus causing heart attacks, can be fatal.
Often a case of mistaken identity. It is the member of the carrot and fennel family and has been mistaken for an edible! It attacks the nervous system and death is usually the result of respiratory failure.
Muscle weakness, gastric problems, organ failure, blood clots, convulsions, respiratory arrest leading to a slow agonising death.
This for some is the most well-known of all the poisonous plants. Causing, dilated pupils, dryness in the mouth, thirst, problems swallowing, slurred speech, vomiting, confusion, convulsions all which can go on for days and then death.
The list is endless when it comes to poisonous plants.
It rages from plants that can give you a slight dodgy stomach complaint, all the way to a very slow agonising death … and just think I didn’t even mention any mushrooms.
Gardens are a very beautiful, peaceful and relaxing place to be in but also a place to give a certain amount of respect to….
Now in Sam Llewelyn’s quote at the beginning, it mentions both sex and death, now I have written a lot about death but nothing on sex. Well, I did have a go at this (the writing that is) but due to my rather childish nature, the first paragraph was littered with innuendo’s and double entendres, so I thought I couldn’t possibly leave that in; so I remove it completely.
Wow – a terrifying but brilliant post! I was very brave and read the whole thing (not good with spiders!) Also, I am never letting my daughter outside again !!!
Thank you- I really enjoyed writing this one. 🙂
Great post! I get woodlice spiders in the greenhouse. Funny looking things.
It’s rather scary that monkshood in particular can be bought from the garden centre with very little in the way of warnings. Beautiful though…
Thanks- I am not afraid of spiders but the Woodlouse spider certainly gives me the creeps! More information on certain plants from the garden centres would definitely be more helpful!