Salutations and welcome to a special October edition of Garden Bloggers’
Bloom Doom Day at Botanica Chaotica! And, when I say salutations, it is just my fancy way of saying ‘bah’ or ‘humbug’ or ‘I have something depressing to complain about’ and I was just hoping to drag you into it whilst still giving the pretense of sounding pleasant. Today, we are celebrating all things dying, dead, disgusting, disturbing, or decomposing in the garden. Starting things off is this seasonally appropriate photo of a harvester spider dancing on the corpse of a gloriosa daisy flower (Rudbeckia hirta).
Witch’s claws dangle on the California pipevine (Aristolochia californica), serving as a warning that all good garden deeds will be punished eventually. When thrown, they are surprisingly effective at beaning marauding rodents in the noggin, and they can also be added to whatever is brewing in the witch’s cauldron on a cold, rainy, Oregon night.
I’d like to think these are masses of antlion larvae clustered around their victim. But, alas, they are only the seeds of the common garden pot marigold (Calendula officinalis). At least the gaudy, vibrant flowers are long gone, leaving me with the depressing grays that an October garden so justly deserves.
And what could be more gruesome that the translucent remains of a cyclamen flower lying on the ground waiting to decompose into the bleak afterlife? Beauty fades fast. Ugly is forever.
Mushrooms sulk in the shadows…
An over-ripe banana slug lies stunned nearby, looking all the world like a fresh poo. Someone wasn’t paying attention and accidentally put their bare hand on it while working in the garden. They will never be able to wash the slime (nor the shame) off, no matter how much soap, water, sandpaper, acetone, gasoline, and fire that they use. Might as well just chop that slimy hand off now and get it over with.
Although living, the macabre, leering tongue of the Gribblewart flower (Biarum tenuifolium ssp. abbreviatum) reminds me that true horror lurks around every corner.
A view down into the gaping maw to the warty, white protuberances at the base of the tongue. Those are the taste buds, waiting to sample a passing mouse or two (or hopefully three) on Halloween night.
Miss Wilmott’s Ghost made an appearance in the garden this evening. Her prickly personality will not be missed, although her sudden departure from this dimension was shocking. Murdered. No wonder her pallid, ethereal form remained behind, haunting us long after the moon was consumed by the scuttling clouds. Where did she go? Ah yes, I feel her sharp pointed teeth in my flesh now…
Speaking of ghosts, the phantoms of every single bug, moth, or fly that splattered across the windshield of my car this summer have appeared en masse, shuddering and swaying in the evening breeze that reeks of hemolymph and chitin. Although some may claim these phantoms are actually the seedheads of Clematis tangutica, they would be wrong. Very wrong.
More ghostly forms lurk under the shadows of the poplar. It’s nothing, nothing but the pale white leaves of Lamium orvale. They will soon be smothered under a thick pile of sodden poplar leaves. What an unpleasant way to go.
Mutant mouths of a modern day mandrake make an appearance elsewhere in the garden
Fall is also the time when the fruit of Paeonia delavayi splits open, revealing the raw fleshy interior just dripping with blood red corpuscles and packed with poisonous, shining black seeds that unfortunately made their way into this suffering life.
Feasting on these poisonous berries is the fearsome Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’. Yellow flecks of mucus and bile splattered across sunburnt leaves, hooked claws.
Gah! Enough of this silliness and color, back to death! Mwah hah hah hah! An arched bridge of death, the backbone of deerfern (Struthiopteris spicatum) laid bare by the ravages of time, releasing spores into the air to incite your allergies. Your last wheezing breath is a celebration of it’s prehistoric revenge. Long after you pass, the ferns will remain, fronding forth from your eye sockets.
Little angry, alien skulls roll down the hill, scowls permanently fixed in place for an eternity. A reminder that snapdragons once lived here before their life was cut short by a misplaced boot.
An egg of Clathrus columnatus lies in the mulch. It will hatch soon.
After a day or two, rotting spongy fingers burst forth from the egg, clawing their way upwards into the light. Grasping at ankles, reeking of rot.
Eventually it opens fully, palm up, each finger smeared with a stinking, sliming mass of brown goo. Flies swarm, laying eggs in the putrefied mess. Maggots tunnel in and out, poking their waving heads into the air before retreating back into the damp mush. Are they waiting for you? A bad omen, surely.
A $45 Chamaecyparis, buffeted by gaseous fumes, waves sadly as a promenade of funeral cars drives by. Dead within a month after planting, it never even had a chance to experience a springtime romance with a browsing deer. Once blue and lush, now crisp and brown. Needles fried in the scorching summer heat, it’s roots couldn’t keep up with its unquenchable thirst. Torrents of winter rain will soon ceaselessly pound its corpse into the mud. You should have buried it quickly, before everyone in the neighborhood witnessed the aftermath of this horrible horticultural crime. What sort of neglectful gardener would let this sort of tragedy happen?
The charcoal remains of woolly thyme, reduced to lifeless carbon in the space of a single day. All that is missing is the chalk outline and the accusatory stares. Good thing you didn’t hold an open garden event.
Silene acaulis suffered the same fate.
Perhaps worst of all, the pile of dried Yucca flaccida roots, once full of life and promise, now desiccated, shriveled, lifeless. If only someone had taken just 15 minutes to plant (and water) them, they might still be alive. Who, who could be responsible asks the autumnal owl…You, you, you comes the distant reply.
The nodding, somber heads of Daucus carotus know what you did. Each nod acknowledges your guilt and complacency in the death of each plant in your garden. And, they know that next year’s garden will end like this one. Brown, cold, wet, and dead. Even the promise of spring can’t salvage this mess.
But wait, there’s one more horror to witness before this post ends. Nothing can prepare you for the terror of one of the world’s most vicious killers. Although only 6 months old, this is one of the top predators in the neighborhood, destroying houseplants with a swipe of a paw lined with razor sharp nails.
The fearsome beast licks its lips in anticipation of a late night houseplant snack.
I hope this post has sufficiently terrified you. Let it serve as a warning. The worst is yet to come. And remember, “We can have dead plants in the garden nearly every month of the year” ~ Botanica Chaotica
Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is an event hosted by Carol J. Michel on the 15th of every month over at May Dreams Gardens. Check it out to see what is blooming this month in other gardens around the world. I promise they won’t be nearly as frightening as this spooky October
Bloom Doom Day post was.