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.


janiceflorida said...

Lynn, that's so sad, but funny at the same time. You'll probably never know if the plant caused the bird's death, but if you haven't found any more little bodies, maybe not. I'm a believer in talking to my plants, also.

Susan said...

I think your little painted bunting would have to brew herself a little cup of tea before succumbing to your angel trumpet LOL! Great story, Lynn! I do agree that the scent of Angel Trumpets (this romantic loves the name) is intoxicating and addictive. My trumpet is an offspring from the one that grew in my mom's garden when I was a kid. I would do whatever I have to do to always keep mine alive. Enjoy yours!

Mike C said...

Lynn that was amazing story. I'm so glad you and your plant have become friends again. And she is blooming flowers once more. What a great ending.

Lynn McIntosh said...

Janice, Susan and Mike - thanks for your nice comments! I warily look around now that she's blooming and hope I don't find bodies, lol! Luckily the Painted Buntings aren't around until October (maybe Sept)

Kate R said...

Hi Lynn! For some reason I missed this post...can't think why as I subscribed to follow you. Anyway, glad I found it. Love the way you write with that little spark of humor! I would have felt sad too to find a dead little bird like that. How strange...but it makes you wonder doesn't it. I constantly admire other people's Brugmansia but I no longer have one of my own. Like you I got a little spooked by all the scary stories I had heard about them and strangely enough I could never detect a fragrance from the one I had. I neglected mine horribly and it passed away in a freeze. Suffice to say I just admire other people's now!
Lovely post!

Kate R

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

I had a beautiful peach colored huge shrub at one time, when it was loaded with blooms it was amazing and the scent was wonderful. I have two small ones growing now, rooted from cuttings I got last year.

I did not see a way to email you personally so I want to write here that I thank you very much for your encouraging comment on my blog. I am feeling much better today and am thankful for that.

Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady