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. 3}

One morning in 1978 a communist defector and BBC journalist was waiting at a bus stop when he felt a painful stab in his thigh….he turned to find a man picking up his umbrella and apologizing.  Not long after he had a fever, was hospitalized, began throwing up blood, and then he died.

When the doctors performed an autopsy they found hemorrhaging in every organ in his body and a capsule in a puncture wound in his thigh that contained extract from the Castor Bean plant. It was suspected that a KGB agent was the culprit.

Castor Bean PlantCastor Bean Plant  {source}

Castor bean is in a lot of our gardens…it is sold to deter moles and voles. It is sold at most garden centers in the U.S. It has very pretty foliage….and, yes, it is the source of castor oil. Mussolini’s men used to use castor oil on dissidents….they would grab them and stuff a bottle of castor oil in their mouth as a form of punishment…leaving them with a really bad case of you-know-what! Oh, yeah. That’ll teach ’em. With such great ideas you can see how some of these people become leaders, right?

Supposedly the deadly poison ricin has been removed before you purchase your bottle of castor oil…..but just be careful! 😉


In the late 1800’s Sigmund Freud was quoted as saying:

“a cocainization of the left nostril had helped me to an amazing extent. In the last few days I have felt quite unbelievably well, as though everything had been erased…I have felt wonderful, as though there never had been anything wrong at all.”

{Hmmmm….and there are people that have trusted this man and have based the study of our minds on his opinions??? Someone not in their right mind tells us what is going on with our mind? Lord, help us!}

Coca PlantCoca Plant {source}

The small bush that had changed Freud’s life was the coca plant….or more commonly referred to as cocaine. {Here come my crazy hits!}

Cocaine is an alkaloid that is extracted from the coca plant grown in South America and was found in the earliest versions of the drink Coca-Cola.

Even though Coca-Cola’s recipe is a super guarded secret….supposedly coca is still used in the flavoring today…just without the cocaine alkaloid. Supposedly.

Hmmmmm…I wonder if that is why my great-grandmother had to start each day with a Coca-Cola in order to function? Hmmmmm………..if she only knew.

Anyone know of any fun wicked plant info for us?

Be careful what you grow……and chew on…..and swallow……….


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~


Wicked Wednesday…..{No. 1}

Since I love to garden I have always enjoyed learning about plants, their habits, their uses through history, etc. I find it fascinating.  Over the  years I have learned so many fun facts…ones I had never heard before.  So many plants are wicked! 😉

I thought it would be fun to scour through my garden journal and share some of the fun Wicked Plants that I’ve learned about over the years….since spring is around the corner and those of us that like to garden are beginning to think about the plants we want to add to our yards.

Did you know that “Mary Wanna”…… I’m not gong to use the real name because I will get some crazy, goofy hits on my site!  Several months ago I was writing about painting a large _________-of-drawers…..and the word ‘large’ paired with the word ‘chest’ landed so many hits on our blog it almost shut down….I got some crazy followers….but they quickly unfollowed because they were definitely disappointed. ha! So, back to my story…..

Did you know that “Mary Wanna” was sold as candy on the streets of NYC from the mid-1800’s-around 1900? It was called ‘Arabian Gunje of Enchantment’.  Candy. On the street. To kids. ha!


Monkshood {source}

Did you know that Monkshood/wolfsbane/leopard’s bane {Aconite} is commonly mistaken for an edible herb? In the 1800’s a cook went outside to get horseradish, accidentally picked monkshood, and killed 2 of the dinner guests by putting it in the food.  All parts of this plant are toxic. Nazis used it to make poison bullets. The poison attacks the nerves and eventually stops the heart. Even a brief skin contact with this plant can lead to tingling, numbness, and cardiac symptons. A Canadian actor died after encountering monkshood on a hiking trip in 2004. ugh! Look at that picture up there….it’s gorgeous! It would be just like me to pick this, come home, put it in vases all over the house and then keel over dead. ha! A big sacrifice just to want lovely fresh flowers in the house.

Do you have any wicked facts about plants that you were surprised to find out about?

Trying not to get poisoned~


Heart Rot

February…the month we think a lot about hearts.

Usually not too much about a condition called “Heart Rot”….

I shared this post last year…but it was a great reminder to me, so I thought I would share it again.


Several years ago when our middle daughter was 2 years-old

she was playing in a spot on the driveway …. under the largest,

prettiest oak tree in our yard.

I called her inside and a couple of minutes later Handsome came home

and parked in the spot that she had been playing.

Five minutes later we heard an awful sound….

like a huge explosion.

When we looked outside the large, beautiful oak tree had dropped one of its

largest branches onto Handsome’s car…..completely crushing it flat.

Just minutes earlier that would have been our little one.

We cleaned up the mess…it took days; and then had some

tree experts look at the tree.

On the outside the tree was absolutely beautiful…the picture of perfect health.

The loveliest in the yard….our favorite.

But inside it suffered from a condition called ‘heart rot’.

In other words…..the entire heart of the tree was completely rotten.

We had to take down this lovely creature. We were sad.

Here are some pictures I took during our autumn trip to Monticello in Virginia….

the home of Thomas Jefferson.

This is what heart rot looks like in a tree.

These lovely trees were gorgeous and appeared very prolific and healthy,

but when a storm came, they crumbled.

Heart Rot.

Trees are not the only living things that can get heart rot.

We can, too.

We can look and appear wonderful on the outside,

when on the inside {our heart} is rotting away.

When our hearts are left unchecked, untended….

or filled with what they were not intended to hold….

heart rot sets in.

Maybe it is past wounds that have been stuffed,

bitterness, unforgiveness, lies, answer envy…

{You know, when you feel like you are seeing everyone else’s prayers, dreams, etc. being answered and fulfilled and it seems yours are unheard and ignored….yep,

that’s answer envy…and it will easily lead to heart rot.}

A myriad of things can contribute to human heart rot.

In trees….there is no cure. The tree must be taken down. But, for us there is hope!

We can change course, perspective, choose to begin filling our hearts with truth,

and the rot can be turned into a thriving, lush heart again.

It takes work…but so worth it.

Several times in my life I’ve experienced heart rot try to set in.

It’s not pretty…and I don’t want it.

It will take diligence and intention to steer clear.

Have you checked yourself lately for heart rot?

This month of hearts is a great time to do it.



A Year of Front Porches……

Our porch is our favorite place to hang out….and we eat as many meals as possible on it. It’s where we sit with friends. Have long talks. Hash things out. Visit. Catch up. Read. Curl Up. Contemplate. Have quiet times. A place for lemonade and iced tea.

Last week I looked back over a year of mantels….and I thought it would be fun to look back at a year of porches.  We enjoy changing our porch with the seasons….or for whatever happens to be going on at the time in our home.

So, here it is….a year of porches:

{You can click on the links and see the entire post of each porch with more pictures}

Christmas 2011

Winter 2012

Spring 2012

Summer 2012

Autumn 2012

fall front porch

Do you have a porch? Do you enjoy changing it with the seasons?

What’s your favorite thing to do with your entryway???

On the porch~

Sharing with:  Tip JunkieBetween Naps on the PorchThrifty Decor ChickFunky Junk InteriorsDIY ShowoffHome Stories A to Z a.k.a. DesignSerenity NowSavvy Southern StyleMy Romantic HomeJennifer Rizzo

Autumn Inspiration……

This is my favorite time of the year! I want to hold onto every second and not miss it.

Even as things seems to speed up and get so busy and full….autumn still says, “Slow down and cuddle up. Savor. Enjoy. Breathe. Prepare.”

I love that.

{I think it also says, ‘Eat’….but if you read yesterday’s post…you know, I’m just not going there….}

I love signs….and have always loved a good hayride. I think it would be fun to have an autumn party for just adults and have a couple’s hayride.  Wouldn’t that be great!?


We went on a picnic this past weekend in a spot that resembles this picture….I love fall picnics. The crisp air, the fabrics, the smells, the colors…….


I get so excited when I get to get my favorite boot socks out. They almost make me giddy.


And putting leaves on everything…….


I think large groups of pumpkins and cornstalks are so fun…and speak of the season at hand.  You just need a cup of hot cider……


Bonfires! The smell of woodsmoke is intoxicating to me. It’s one of my favorite smells.  There is something mesmerizing about a fire outside….and so relaxing. We use our fire pit as often as possible!


Living in Oak Cottage……we are surrounded by oaks. We do a lot of raking. ha! It’s a ‘every weekend activity’ beginning mid to late October and lasting into January.


I love the upholstery tacks used to decorate these pumpkins…..


So glad October is here…….


Hope wherever you are that you are having a wonderful autumn….

Fun Autumn Find ::: Green Acorns

Last year when we had the disaster…..the 150 foot oak tree that fell onto our cottage during a hurricane……we started finding the neatest things all over our yard.

I guess I always knew that acorns were green while they were still growing…and not yet “ripe”. {Do acorns get ‘ripe’?} Well, you know…….

oak acorn

But usually when they started falling all over the yard and hitting us on the head {we are completely convinced that the squirrels actually are THROWING them at our heads!}…they are usually a lovely brown or, like this year, almost black. And, of course, we use them to decorate for autumn and for all kinds of other neat things.

oak acorn

But last year, all over our garden and yard, we had these fun little green acorns. We gathered them up and put them in containers. They were a fun bright spot to look at during all the arduous cleanup and repairs.

oak acorn

Aren’t they fun!?  Brown little caps and bright lime green bodies. {Do acorns have bodies?} I’m obviously NOT well-versed in acorns. Seeing as how this IS Cottage in the Oaks…and our home is named Oak Cottage…..I better get with it!

oak acorn

Even though I don’t have tons of acorn knowledge…..every time I see them they remind me of one of my favorite quotes:

“Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow.”

Living in a home surrounded by huge oak trees….and seeing their strength and stamina….and then looking at these tiny acorns and realizing that this is how they started is encouraging. God has put in this little acorn everything it needs to become a mighty oak….even though it doesn’t look like it…..it has all it needs to turn into a towering tree. One of the strongest.

Big things start with small ideas. Small steps. Bits of intention. A little thought. A small gesture. One little step forward…….

Today that is what these little green acorns are reminding me…….

God has put everything I need within me, all I need to do is act on the small ideas and take a small step forward……

You, too.

What small little ideas are you feeling a nudge to act upon?


Bird Feeding……

I hope you all had a super weekend. We are having some lovely autumn weather roll in here…..how about you? Has autumn arrived where you live or is it still feeling like summer?

Feeding birds is something that we have always done….year round. We enjoy hearing their lovely songs throughout the day and watching them at the feeders.

In our garden we usually use safflower seed because squirrels do not like it and will not have anything to do with it.  We do offer another seed blend in one squirrel-proof feeder.

We also have several suet feeders all around the yard and garden. Some are hanging and some of nailed to trees.  All the birds love this! We purchase the suet that is called Hot Pepper Suet….because, once again, the squirrels will not come near it. {Score!}

In the spring during nesting season we hang balls of thread, dryer lint, etc. out and enjoy watching the birds use it to make their nests.

Songbirds LOVE fruit….especially apples and oranges. We try to keep these out year round….and in the summer and fall the butterflies will enjoy these, too.

I thought these were some fun bird feeding ideas…..

Three containers of fruit and dryer lint/thread/nesting material….

bird feeding


Love this chandelier turned bird feeder……

bird feeding


These are very easy to make with peanut butter and birdseed……

bird feeding


This is, too! Just string peanuts on a wire and hang……

bird feeding


If you don’t have a squirrel problem…..it’s great to offer shelled nuts……

bird feeding


I shared last year about our Squirrels here…….it’s a constant battle!

Do you enjoy feeding birds in your yard/garden?

Happy Monday~

Unique Gardens {Fun Discoveries}

If you saw the movie “Julie and Julia” do you remember the scene where Julie is in the kitchen trying to make dinner and has a complete breakdown…crying, laying on the floor in a fit of desperation, waving the white dish towel? Yeah. Well, that has been me today. It’s been one of those days.  So when I came across these fun pictures…they made me smile and giggle. Martha would say “It’s a good thing”.

Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies….and whenever I go somewhere I love to check out the gardens in the area. Strolling through a garden is such soul ministry to me.

I had fun finding these unique gardens over the past few weeks….some of them make me laugh and giggle; and others make we want to run out and get the supplies to duplicate them in our yard!

Check these creative, fun gardens out……..

How fun is this garden in a shoe bag!? What a fun idea!

garden in a shoe bag


This garden is planted in copper gutters and then hung from the porch on small chains.  This would look great on our front porch! {“Oh, Handsome, dear……..”}

garden in hanging gutters


In an old tree trunk…one way to not have to call the stump grinder…..

tree trunk garden


We love to make fairy gardens. We usually make ours outside and use only all natural ingredients that we find in the garden and yard. {Supposedly a true fairy garden only has things from nature in them…..}  This one would be fun on a table on the porch or inside.

fairy garden


A garden planted in a pallet…..great way to make use of vertical space. This would be perfect for apartment balconies or porches; or any other small area.

garden in a pallet


OK..this one I’d like to do! We’ve planted many things in furniture before….but check out this rooftop garden! It’s a work of art! L.O.V.E. I.T.

unique garden


This is the one that I cannot stop giggling at….no matter how many times I look at it. This is just hilarious….but to add to it, check out the faces of the people inside! Cracks. Me. Up.  I laugh every time….I’m laughing now.

car garden


Here is a link to a list of 10 of the most beautiful botanical gardens…with pictures. It’s so fun to walk through botanical gardens. Such a treat.

america's best botanical gardens


I’m still laughing.

I must get control…..