Halloween approaches, and as the harvest moon casts an eerie pall over the land, our thoughts turn to all things dastardly and mysterious. The days are becoming shorter, the skies darken, and the wind kicks up, pulling the dead, wet leaves to the ground. As trees creak and groan and things go BUMP in the night, it’s the time when the Dark Garden Flourishes.
Looking closely, one imagines malevolent mysteries, secret tunnels and hidden passageways amongst the ferns and hostas. Their drip, drip, drip moistening the humus-rich beds below.
Monk’s Hood lurks in the shade, it’s pretty blue flowers a perfect disguise for danger. One is well advised to be respectful of Aconite Aconitum napellus. When used in Chinese medicine, the bulbs are processed and steamed nine times, sliced and dried to remove the highly toxic alkaloids. But beware – If you accidentally steam them just six times… let’s just say Monk’s Hood will make heads roll!
Lungwort, Pulmonaria officinalis, though perhaps not deadly, is gruesomely at home in the dark. Lungwort’s elongated leaves have little white spots that resemble a diseased lung. It grows next to its poisonous cousins in the shade garden, never suspecting that, potential toxic flavanoids, it’s merely an unsightly sidekick.
Why grow these hideous herbs, you query? Because, I answer, knowledgeably grown and harvested, they quietly bring balance to the plants that flourish in the sunlight. And treated with respect, these poisonous posies medicinally deliver a medicinal treat instead of a gruesome trick. Mwahahahahaha…. Happy Halloween!