Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quote me

I don't like castor bean plant.  You can quote me on that.

I should.  I should appreciate its height, its architectual interest, its bold presence, the opportunity to splash some red into the garden by choosing certain varieties, etc.  I should welcome the opportunity for something that combines all of these elements, plus flowers and interesting seedpods, in one tall plant.

I don't.

But please take a moment to put quote marks around "don't like."  Because yes, its true...but I don't harbor bad feelings in my heart toward it, or badmouth it to fellow gardeners, or even wish it didn't appear in my neighbor's landscape.

I just don't want it in my immediate scope.

Which is just how I used to feel about hosta.  Silly pointless rather ugly green elements that form ubiquitous rings around trees and which often were recommended with the caveat that you cut off the flowers and just use them for their leaves.  Sure, I got their advantage in that they grew in shade.  But why grow something ugly just because it will grow there?

Guess what occupies certain nooks and crannies of my yard now, and happily so in my eyes' opinion?

Hosta "June," and not just because that is my birth month.  Love the variegated leaves with an odd bluish green.  Giant hosta...yes, giant, weirdly prehistorical almost, kinda like that castor bean.  Garden variety (nyuk, nyuk wink wink) unnamed cultivar with delightful smelling flowers, which might have been called "August lily" by our grandparents.  Ones that spread with runners.  Functional ones.  Specimen ones.

Of course, I don't cut the flowers off a single one.  Silly advice books.

So there they are, these things which made me go "blergh."  These things about which I once said "I don't like them," and was rather vociferous in doing so.

Fortunately, I knew enough then to never say "never."  So my turnaround didn't exactly bite me on the hindquarters when it came.  A fine lesson for life and it's subcompartments, not only gardening, but parenting.  And home decorating.  And reading preferences.  And perfume.

I've talked about it before, but I took a new route home today, and saw a big planting of castor bean.

I didn't like it.

Quote me.

picture from the blog "Danger Garden"


Ines said...

Ohh, I learned not to say never. Because last time I said it (and never after, I am very careful these days to avoid using it in reference to me), - it took around a week for it to come back and bite me in my hindquarters. ALthough it turned out it was for my benefit. :)

flittersniffer said...

I like hostas - don't have any, because we lack the right conditions - but I love their architectural spikiness, so I am glad you have come round to them!

My mother used to be terribly sniffy about what she disparagingly referred to collectively as "municipal bedding plants".

I sent her a postcard from Lanzarote once, saying that she would love the flora of Lanzarote, which mostly consists of mad cacti, with not a municipal bedding plant in sight...

Anonymous said...

Hostas are rather lovely - billowy and sculptural - and I admire the perfect examples grown in the Botanical Gardens. I just looked them up and there are some lovely names used for them ("Blue Mouse Ears" for example).

As for Castor Bean plants, my midwife suggested Castor Oil mixed with orange juice to kick=start labour and get Sprog out of me ... I can't knock a plant that helped me give birth, now can I?

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh (TMI)

ScentScelf said...


Sometimes the bite marks come with beneficial lessons, eh? Always nice to have a silver lining in the cloud. :)

ScentScelf said...


(I am finally using the punctuation you do...recalcitrant non-capitalizer I am, I guess...)

Ha! Know exactly what your mother meant by "municipal bedding plants."

Now why is my brain hopping from "municipal bedding plants" to "old lady fragrance"... ? ;)

Mad cacti. Must look up Lanzarote.

ScentScelf said...


Your timing is impeccable. Your comment emerged, as it were, just as I was in a FB dialogue with a friend about aids to getting labor moving along.

I mentioned castor oil. I still have the (unused) bottle tucked away from my second pregancy...sometimes, I think it worked as a totem, looming from above. ("If things don't get moving," it intoned from the shelf, "you'll end up having to swill me. Get walking and get on with it.")

(So there, Anna from Edinburgh who felt perhaps the tag "TMI" was required. I wave again, "I" being ScentScelf MMI...Moderate Much Information. ;) )

Blue Mouse Ears you say? Sounds like something I could find a happy spot for. Must look that up.

After Lanzarote, natch.

Lucy said...

I went thru a long phase of not liking hostas. I don't know the castor plant, but I know the oil is tres beneficial -- just got myself some and a nice flannel -- we shall see...

I didn't like tuberose or jasmine for the longest time either, same process/thing, mellowed or got smarter or something, certainly found some beauties that could not be denied, so now do appreciate them. I guess I just didn't know what I was talking about when badmouthing them!

Anonymous said...

If this reaches you in time, ScentSelf, a good spoonful of castor oil in a full glass of o.j. (without the bits in it, just to improve upon the swallowing potential), to be guzzled down without hesitation, deviation or repetition. Then the friend should stay very near a bathroom to let Mother Nature take care of the rest ... say no more.

cheerio, and have fun finding out about Lanzarote,

Anna in Edinburgh

Musette said...

'generic' hostas....blah. Specimen hostas: breathtaking.

I haven't grown a castor bean plant in years! I used to love those things, with the pretty little flowers and the height and all..Hmmmm...maybe a good addition to GrowlyMan's driveway! (I can't put a fence higher than 4' but nobody said nuthin' 'bout plantin' no tall plants!

Laura said...

Still don't like hostas - I think because under the horrid all-pervasive Chicago evergreen shrubs they are frequently the only thing that will grow... and I am tired of them (as I am of those blasted Chicago evergreen shrubs)!!! Sigh - but I may give in yet.

ggs said...

I totally relate. I used to be a hosta hater too! Hate how the slugs/bugs eat holes in the leaves and make them all bedraggled looking! BORED with the green-white variagated hosta that a milion developers plopped in the landscaping.

Dug up a ton of them planted in every bed of a house I'd moved into, and put them out on the curb in boxes "FREE--Please take". They were spirited away. Of course my nextdoor neighbor took some of them, but his flowerbeds were so bare, it was an improvement!

But now, I've got a few large lovely hostas in some shady spots in my beds at my (new) house and I, ummm, really like them! I've even divided a few and spread them around. One is an elegant blue-leafed specimen-type.

ScentScelf said...


Specimens can be quite something, can't they? Of course, I remain humbled by the irony that the most delicious smell comes from the run-of-the-mill of the bunch.

That's right, there's your permanent structures, and then there's your castor beans and your elephant ears...or, of course, corn. ;)

ScentScelf said...


What I didn't mention was that I actually am a perpetrator of what I call "ring around the hosta"...that rim of hostas, single deep, linearly arranged about the trunk of a tree. To be sure, I inherited them with this house, and given that they are in the parkway and quite functional and better than grass or rock...but still, I wish to at least mix varieties and break the circle into an amoeba.

I have REMOVED ill-thought evergreens, however. You know, the ones whose DNA wants them to be twenty or thirty feet high and wide, but are planted within two feet of the house and under a window? And you can "keep in check" within an inch of their life but then they grow thick of branch and entirely unattractive and you could be spending that pruning time admiring a well-chosen shrub that will stay within bounds while enjoying a nice tall glass of iced tea anyway?

Remember, I didn't yield; I found my way to love... :) You can always go for pachysandra.

ScentScelf said...


'Twas a blue leafed hosta that turned my thinking around! I stopped for the foliage, and stayed for the plant.

Chuckling at the kicking them to the curb...which we do because we can't just put a perfectly good plant in the compost, right? Best of both worlds that they were an improvement as an addition to your neighbor's yard, and improved yours by their absence.

I send a welcome to the blog with a nod and a wave to another person who found a way to find the hosta love. Which, obviously (please note, Laura) is not required to pull up a chair and set a spell around these parts. :)