Wicked Wednesday….{No. 5}

Ok…who’s been checking their gardens for wicked plants lately?

I have several in mine….I shared last summer about our Bible Garden…..

You can read about it here and here.

I guess I have the flip side…a Wicked Garden, too…and didn’t even know it!


Ever heard of Mandrake? It grows in Europe, has fruit that looks like small, unripe tomatoes; but the danger lies underground in its root.


The Romans believed that it could cure demon possession. The Greeks used it for a love potion. In AD 200, in the northern African city of Carthage, Hannibal deserted the city and left behind a huge feast…..with wine laced with mandrake. It caused the whole army to fall in a deep sleep, he came back with his army and completely conquered them.

Shakespeare used it in Romeo and Juliet…..the friar made Juliet a potion with mandrake that would cause her to look “like death when he shuts up the day of life”.

Mandrake attacks the nervous system, slows it down, and induces a coma.

Go on Pinterest and search for Mandrake…..whoa!


Oleander was once believed to be an antidote for a snake bite. But, alas….it’s no such thing. It is highly toxic…all parts. It is grown in warmer climates {like here in the South} prolifically….hence, there are many tragedies each year. It only takes a couple of leaves to kill an animal.


Campers have tragically died by using the branches/stems to skewer their food and cook it. Many children have perished from eating the leaves.

Oleander suicides are not uncommon…especially among the elderly. It is grown quite often at many nursing homes……the elderly are quite aware of its toxicity. Sadly, in Sri Lanka, it is the most common way of committing suicide.

We have two beautiful ones in our garden. Please….if you come over…just look.

It is recommended that if you have pets or young children in your home or that visit often….do not have oleander in your yard or garden.

Heading out to put up warning signs in the garden…..



Wicked Wednesday……… {No. 4}

Each time I type that title I break out into the song from Wicked….you know, the last line…

“I’m feeling wicked!”

If you have not seen the show…by all means…..see it! On Broadway preferably.


When the settlers arrived in Jamestown there was a beautiful weed that seemed to flourish. Since other food was scarce…they thought they would add it to their diets.

They died horrible deaths….complete with convulsions and seizures.

The plant? Datura.

Commonly called Moonflower.


All parts of the plant contains the toxic alkaloids…but the seeds are where they are most concentrated. A woman in Canada used the seeds in a dish she was cooking because she thought they were a type of seasoning….she went into a coma for 24 hours and was hospitalized for 3 days.

In the past many unwise individuals {teenagers} goofed around and made a tea with the leaves….it caused dangerous hallucinations for days, fevers high enough to kill brain cells, and failure of the nervous system….leading to coma and death.

Not only do I grow moonflowers in our garden each year….I give seedlings as gifts. Maybe I should put a warning label on them:

Warning: Do not chew on seeds, use in food, or make tea with any part of this lovely plant. Just look at it.


Who knew that grass could kill you. There are actually many types of dangerous grasses.

A big one is Johnson Grass…..it grows throughout the U.S.


It contains enough cyanide to kill a horse. Death is usually very quick….preceded by hours of anxiety, convulsions, and staggering. Oh joy.

Just read a caption on Pinterest that said…’Did you know you can juice Johnson Grass just like wheat grass?’ Yeah. Right.

No, thanks.

Watch what you munch on~


Wicked Wednesday…..{No. 2}

I hope you are having a Wonderful Wednesday…not a wicked one! But I have some more fun, wicked plant facts to share……

Did you know that the Greeks used hellebore in one of the earliest known instances of chemical warfare?


{Source of photo}

Or that here in the American South kudzu has literally eaten buildings and cars? {I know if you live here….you already knew that one!}

Kudzu Eating a Building

{Source of photo}

Kudzu Eating a Car

{Source of photo}

Or that a killer algae escaped from Jacque Cousteau’s aquarium and continues today to smother the ocean floor all over the world?

Cousteau's Killer Algae

{Source of photo}

Encountered any of these???? =)

Have a Wonderful Wednesday~


Making the Volleyball Net A Bit More Lovely……..

We live at the end of a cul de sac……so we have a very skinny backyard and a huge side yard.  I dream of turning it into lovely walkways with a French potager and secret garden rooms; and adding a little folly, maybe.

But for now it needs to be a roomy space for teens to congregate, have cookouts, jump on trampolines, play volleyball, and have lots of fun.  We used to have a zipline that ran all the way across the whole backyard; but we completely wore it out a few months ago.  Our kids wanted to add a volleyball net for something different.

Now, I have nothing against volleyball nets…..but we didn’t want to permanently plant the poles in the ground; so, when it is no longer used we can easily remove it.

Handsome used 1/2 barrels filled with cement to anchor the poles.  This way we can roll up the net to mow, or if we have a function that needs most of the yard.  He left about 10-12 inches at the top of each barrel so I could add potting soil and plant it full of flowers.  Woohoo!  Way to go, Handsome! {He knew I needed to make it little more lovelier than just poles sitting in the backyard with a net strung in between.}

If you are running into the ‘wanting-to-add-a-volleyball-net-to-the-backyard-and-don’t-want-it-to-be-ugly’ dilemna….here’s how you can do it:

You will need:

2 – 8 foot 4 x 4’s

2 – 1/2 barrrels

2 bags of cement (1 for each barrel)

volleyball net

Here’s How Ya Do It:

1.  Place each pole in a 1/2 barrel and pour 1 bag of prepared cement around it.  It is a good idea to support the pole while the cement is drying with some small boards nailed to the barrel.

2.  Repeat for other pole.

3.  Allow the cement to dry…..24-48 hours.

4. Tie one side of the net to the top of one pole…….and after stretching the net to its fullest length, tie the other side to the other pole.

5.  Fill each barrel the rest of the way up with potting soil {My favorite it Miracle Gro Moisture Control}

6. Plant your favorite annuals and perennials in it!

7.  Play ball!


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The Invasion of Beauty

We took some time to do some grunt work a couple of weekends ago—in between cookouts and spring concerts.  We had been putting it off for a while—it was time to tackle “The Monsters By the Road”.

For years the lovely razzleberry bushes by the road were perfect—then they must have started taking steroids!  No matter how much we trimmed, they were HUGE.  It wasn’t a fun job—we had all kinds of other fun, nesting, decorating, planting to do—-we just kept ignoring those behemoths in front of our house.

Amazing what we can allow in our comfort zone………

Handsome chainsawed, trimmed, cut up—and they were finally gone! The chopped up monsters lay by the road for the yard garbage pickup.

Now, time to plant something lovely to replace them.  We were ready to move on.  Get to the fun part. Cover up the ugly. New plants awaited!

But wait, what is THAT?  That huge trunk/stump?  Do you think we could just leave it?  Just cover it up with dirt and plant beauty above it?  Let’s do it!

“You know if we do that—it will sprout hundreds of branches from this one trunk?” Handsome reminded.  Ugh! The behemoths will return with a vengeance. *grunt* *complain*

Out came the axe.  Whacking, sweating, chopping, heaving——does it really have to be so hard?  Is it worth it?

Through this yard project I really started thinking about the state of my heart.  There are things that I’ve become comfortable with that need to be cut down—behemoths that I have learned to ignore, even found comfort.  Am I willing to allow God to chainsaw them?

And then—horror upon horror—will I allow the stumps to be removed?  Or, you know, hundreds of sprouts will appear in no time to take its place.  Couldn’t we just skip that part? Is it worth it?  The pain. The work. The surrender.  Couldn’t I just cover them up with something pretty?  A good deed? A new commitment? A new good habit?

No, the sprouts know their way around all those things.

Just as I want our cottage garden to bless those that see it, walk through it, sit in it—I have to be willing to get out the axe, clippers, sometimes the chainsaw to remove those things that invade the beauty.  If I want to be used and live into my purpose—those things that invade the beauty will need to be removed.  Sap will flow. It can get messy.  But what waits on the other side—well, it’s more than worth it.

We got the monsters and stumps out of the garden—and under them we found these neat treasures–God’s fingerprints…..

Cardinal eggs that had been abandoned–new life waiting to emerge….

A yellow slider turtle–happy to have some sunshine and come out of the dark…….

And after all the work was done and the new BEAUTYberry {:)} bushes and perennials were planted—we retreated here….to the Therapy Room

and our daughter made some shabby chic bandaids for our blisters.

What’s the state of your heart today? Is there anything invading the beauty? Where are YOU seeing the fingerprints of God under the unlikely?

Some things I am thankful for today?  So glad you asked………

stumps removed

shabby chic bandaids

diligent kids doing their schoolwork

a long weekend approaching

happy birds at seed

out-of-town friends coming that we haven’t seen in years

a son who confided in me

daughter skipping and flying through the garden

watching that same daughter make discoveries through the window

warm, sincere hugs

3 kids that love me unconditionally—stumps and all

bright, light-filled bedroom

Cherry Coke

kids’ Saturday morning laughter

those that have fought for my freedom and protection

How Does Your Bible Garden Grow {Part 2}

I can’t believe it is already Thursday! I thought I would share the rest of our Bible Garden with you. You can read Part 1 here.

Our Rose of Sharon is lovely {not quite in bloom yet in the picture}…and the flowers only last one day, just like a daylily.  Jesus is referred to as the Rose of Sharon…here is a great article concerning a good reason why. Sharon was actually a place in Palestine…thought to be one of the most beautiful places; and a rose was considered the most beautiful flower.

 Same with the Lily of the Valley…..blooming and smelling wonderful in even dark and hard places. 🙂

Hyssop is a plant that was used for ritual cleansing…and can be found in Exodus, Numbers, 1 Kings, Psalms, John, and Hebrews.

 Mint was one of the small things that was tithed mentioned in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42.

Mustard is referenced in Matthew and Luke…it has a teeny, tiny seed that grows into a large herb of 10-12 feet in just a few, short months. “faith as a grain of mustard seed”

 Olive trees have through history been one of the most characteristic, valued, and useful trees in the Holy Land and found in Judges, Deuteronomy, Joshua.

If you cut an olive tree down…hundreds of shoots will spring up from the stump.  “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” Isaiah 11:1

Our fruiting olive tree was actually grafted from the olives in the Garden of Gethsemane…I treasure it.  We have to bring it inside in the winter….we almost lost it a year ago.

 Our pomegranate tree is loaded this year! The fruit will be ripe in September. It is a highly characteristic tree of Syria, and all other areas of the Holy Land. It is mentioned and referred to many times in the Bible….Numbers, Deuteronomy, Haggai, Joel,  Song of Solomon.

The rind has a very high percentage of tannic acid and is used for medicine and for tanning in the Middle East. It is used in making genuine Moroccan leather.

Roses were considered the most beautiful flower in Bible times…and we enjoy many different kinds in our garden.

Sage was actually a model for the menorah…and some historians list that it was Mary’s favorite herb to use in cooking. {Not sure about that…but thought it was interesting.}

Violets are a ‘flower of the field’ much like chamomile in the Holy Land.

We have a few other flowers that aren’t mentioned in the Bible, but they are named Biblically…one is Solomon’s Seal. There are many fun stories behind how this plant received its name.

I googled ‘Bible Garden’ and there were many fun articles and lists that popped up.  Here is one list that has LOTS of flowers/plants listed in case you are interested.

Have a wonderful Thursday~

How Does Your Bible Garden Grow…..{Part 1}

When we moved into Oak Cottage one of the first things we did was to begin work on the yard…..and to start our garden.  Even after 16 years it is still not complete and is in process…but it has come a long way.

When our little ones were toddlers and preschoolers we liked to come up with neat ways to teach them God’s Word, about their world, and create fun ways to remember scriptures and Bible truths and stories.  We wanted to paint pictures for them….

We did this in many ways….but our favorite has been our Bible Garden.

All throughout our English cottage garden we have peppered plants, herbs, flowers, trees, etc. that are referenced in scripture, and that grow in the Holy Land.

I thought I would share them with you in two posts.

We have several Scotch Broom in our garden.  We have the yellow variety, pink, and orange. These bushes are referenced in 1 Kings 19:4, Job 30:4, and Psalm 120:4.

Some translations have mistakenly translated the Hebrew word ‘rothem’ into ‘juniper’. But upon further study this is incorrect. ‘Rothem’ was actually the Arab’s translation of ‘rotem’…closer to ‘broom’. When visiting the Holy Land you find that the true translation is ‘broomtree’ and that Scotch Broom grows abundantly in many places. It casts little shadow and would only be used for shade in dire circumstances, but it is used for making charcoal, brooms, and for burning. {It also smells heavenly!}

The Flowering Almond {sorry, it had already finished blooming when I took the pic!} is reference in Ecclesiastes 121:5:

“…the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home…..”

Bay Laurel is the Bible’s ‘oil tree’

Cedar is referenced MANY times in the Bible…here is just a few places: Amos 2:9, 2 Kings 19:23, 2 Kings 14:9, Song of Solomon 5:15, Ezekiel 31:3-5, Psalm 104:16, Psalms 92:12…..

Fig…well, we all know that these great big leaves were used by Adam and Eve..but the Fig Tree is mentioned many times in the Bible….Genesis 3:7, Deuteronomy 8:8, Numbers 13:23, Numbers 20:5, Psalms 105:33……

It only takes a quick ride among the mountain villages of Palestine to see the extensive fig gardens….and realize how devastating it would be for these slow growing trees to be destroyed. It takes several years of nurturing before they bear fruit.

Garlic was known to the ancient Egyptians…and was probably one of the delights in which the Israelites longed for in Numbers 11:5. It was/is used for stews.

Grape Hyacinths are small bulb flowers that are referred to as ‘lilies’ in the Holy Land. Song 6:2-3

Purple Iris is also referred to as a ‘lily’ in the Holy Land….Hosea 14:5

Roman Chamomile…one of the Holy Lands ‘flowers of the field’…..Isaiah 40:6 “All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.”

Dill grows in lands bordering the Mediterranean…it is mentioned that this plant {Hebrew ‘shabhath’} is subject to tithe…it’s stems, leaves, and seed.

I’ll share the others in another post…don’t want to bog you down with a super long post.

This has been such a neat way to teach our children so many truths over the years. They’ve SEEN how the lily fades….here today, gone tomorrow. They’ve SEEN how strong the cedar is…when the other trees bend and break in the hurricanes. They’ve TASTED the strong dill and other herbs…and realized how important they are to our dinners; and we’ve cut 10% of them away to see what a tithe looks like; they’ve helped NURTURE a fig tree for years before seeing any fruit for their labor….and then cherished it and reaped the benefits. It’s been a neat journey that we are still on…..

{You can read Part 2 here}

Do you or someone you know have a Bible Garden?


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My Favorite Pots…..

I hope you all had a super weekend!

We have already had several 92 degree days here,

so the wonderful upper 70’s/mid-80’s of the weekend was a treat.

For those of you that garden….you probably have your favorite kind of pots.

This weekend we began planting in many of our pots….and I thought

I would share my favorite kind with you.

For many years I have collected Guy Wolff clay pots.

They are so beautiful…and each one is unique,

handmade, and has so much character.  They are the pots

used by most historical gardens in the US.

{OK, lets count how many times I have already used the

word ‘pots’ in this post. It’s beginning to make me dizzy.}

Each one of these planting vessels {aha!} has a number on

the inside and is stamped on the outside with the Guy Wolff

signature stamp.  These particular clay plant containers {aha! again}

are also marked ‘greenhouse’. Not that you have to use them for

greenhouse growing…but I love the unique markings on each one.

They evoke Old World charm wherever you use them.

These are the new Guy Wolffs that I added to my collection this year.

I love this tall, skinny one!

Do you collect any particular clay containers 🙂 for your garden?


OK, I’m feeling the need for a 25 Things post….

I think another one is coming…maybe even this week.

May all your pots have flowers in them~

Garden Tool Trellises…..

I shared this post back in the beginning of this blog…..

and since this week I’ve been in a gardening state of mind

I thought I would pull it back up from the depths and share it again,

since we have so many wonderful, new friends that may have missed it.


I love to take something that was meant for one thing and use it a totally different way.  How about you?  At our home and yard the unusual is usual.

When my grandfather died I received many of his gardening tools, plow, wheelbarrows, etc.  I use them to this day.  But some of them have worn out, broken, or in some way become unable to be used as tools.  We have found all kinds of ways to continue to use them in our garden.  This would be a fun project with any tools—but it makes them extra special that they were my grandfather’s.

When the garden rake and shovel began to crack and break we glued them where needed and turned them into trellises in one of the rose beds.

The mandevilla is super happy on the shovel these days.

And the rake is awaiting the moonflower vine that my daughter grew in her ‘greenhouse’.  We are gong to plant it today!

Here’s what you need to make your own tool trellis:

~ long-handled garden tools {the older the better—go yard saling or flea marketing if you don’t already have some!}

~ PVC pipe that fits the handle of your chosen tool

~ small, crushed stone/rocks

~ wonderful vines to plant at the base {my favorite part!}

How ya do it:

1. Cut an 18″ section of PVC pipe for each tool you will be using

2.  Insert the pipe into the ground where you want your trellis

3.  Fill the bottom of the pipe with about 4-6″ of crushed stones/rocks

4.  Insert your tool into the pipe

5.  Plant your wonderful vine!

Why the PVC???  Well, we live in the humid US south—termites outnumber people.  They love it here—so anytime you even THINK of putting wood close to the ground–you have to have protection!  The PVC and crushed stone will keep your tool from coming into contact with the soil and rotting; which also  protects against wood-eating critters.

Another fun option:  if it fits the look of your garden—–you could use old or new tools and paint them!  Fun, bright colors!  Just add that step before you plant them and be sure to use exterior spray paint.  That would be a really fun accent in a garden.  {Just make sure you paint it a different color than the flower that you will be growing on it.  We are in the process of making a gate out of old tools—and we are thinking of painting it when we are done.  I’ll let you know how it goes.


In the Garden……

May and June are the prettiest months

in our English cottage garden.

Here is the view out our front door right now…..

coreopsis and rose campion….


part of the herb garden…..

At this time of year Lily of the Valley flank our front steps,

and at night when we sit on the steps or porch they smell wonderful!

love the large purple clematis growing on the bird house posts…..

the English cottage roses smell spicy and the color is so pretty…..

my favorite tea rose…Tiffany. I could smell this rose all day!

the Ballerina roses are loaded with blooms for months……

Do you have a garden?  What’s blooming in your garden?

I just love this time of year in the garden…..

the colors, the smells, and the abundance.


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