Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I've Forgiven my Angel Trumpet

You see, I'm not entirely sure she's guilty.  But I have my suspicions - uncomfortably so.  And even if she is guilty, it truly isn't her fault, it's just the way she is.  Here's the story:

A few years ago we were out and about looking for a home to purchase.  I had wandered into the backyard of what turned out to be an unexpected little secret garden.  Needless to say, I was more than mesmerized by my surroundings and just stood there taking it all in. 

 It was late afternoon and horribly humid, I could feel the build-up of the incoming storm.  It didn't bother me though as I was concentrating on the little whiffs of fragrance I was getting, but couldn't figure out where from.  I knew lots of the fragrant plants in the garden, but I didn't recognize this particular, very enchanting, floral bouquet.

 As I walked around I felt something bump into my head. Well, here was this peach trumpet bloom hanging down from above - entangled with vines and other branches.  There was only one bloom as if it were "just for me" (can you tell I'm a romantic?) 

 I, of course, had to touch it, repeatedly stick my nose in it, talk to it, but I didn't detect any fragrance from it.  It's taken a long time, but I have learned to listen to my intuition and not knowing a thing about Angel Trumpets, I just knew this was the flower luring me around that little garden.

After a few months we found a house and settled in.  I searched out the local garden center and they had one Brugmansia.  I didn't know what color it was going to be, but it didn't matter - I had to have it.  I decided I wanted it in front of the dining room window, hoping I could trim it to umbrella-out and put on a gorgeous display.  Also, I wanted to be able to open the window in the evening to get that amazing fragrance inside.  

No sooner had I planted it, the blooms opened and I could sit on the front bench after walking the dogs at night and inhale drifts of this glorious fragrance.

 Okay, now comes the part that bothers me:

One morning I go out to tool around the garden and I see a downed female painted bunting lying beneath the Angel Trumpet.

I was so saddened.  By that time I had read about the properties of the Solanaceae family.  That all parts of the Brugmansia are poisonous.  

I've read in gardening forums of how when working with their Angel Trumpets, gardeners have experienced uncomfortable symptoms.  One lady felt that her pulse was fluttering about after a while of trimming her A. T., went inside and her pupils were dilated sending her off to the Emergency room.  

There are all sorts of interesting stories - probably some that could be put in the Urban Legend category, like the little boy over in Miami falling asleep beneath an Angel Trumpet and they couldn't wake him for several days.

BUT, it is hard to calculate the toxicity of any Angel Trumpet plant due to the different concentrations given to a specific location.  A plant growing in a garden here in Florida can have completely different levels of alkaloids than the same plant growing in South America. It makes it hard to know just how toxic your plant truly is. 

I think the stories most fascinating to me are the ones where enthusiasts start out with one or two Brugmansias, and keep on wanting more.  It's like they just can't get enough...is the fragrance narcotic?  Does is really make you want more?  I have to wonder as I can't quit sitting on my bench inhaling that smell in the evening.  But then, I have a heightened interest of ethnobotany and find myself fascinated with the properties of all my garden plants.

So, do I really know if that cute little greenie met her demise from hanging out in the branches or beneath my Angel Trumpet.  No, I don't.  Maybe she ran into the window, I don't know, but it makes me wonder.  And it made me upset enough that I ignored my Angel Trumpet for over two years.  I just let her be...she's been eaten by bugs, gotten too much water, not received enough water, I just didn't care.

But now, time has passed.  I've started talking to her again, she's listening and is putting out blooms for the first time since "the incident".  I know, I'm so weird, lol!

One thing is for sure, I have respect for the properties of my plants and I'm always eager to learn everything I can about them.