One of the glorious things about our garden is that plants just magically appear without us actually planting them. Neither Cat Daddy nor I know a thing about gardening so we very much welcome this, especially if the plants turn out to be particularly attractive or unusual.
A new and quite pleasant-looking plant recently appeared which we didn’t recognise. A family member thought it might be something called “tree tomato” and suggested popping a couple of the berries into our cooking. And merci à Dieu that we didn’t, because a bit of Googling – using the sophisticated and targeted search term of, erm, “plants with purple flowers and red berries” – revealed it to be … deadly nightshade.
As the name would suggest, every part of this plant is poisonous and if you so much as look at it, you die. This is the Hallowe’eny witch-plant of nightmares, the enemy-eliminating poison of every story book I read as a child, so frightening that I half-believed it to be of Shakespearean fiction along with hemlock (Cat Daddy: “I’m fairly sure that’s an actual plant”), mandrake (Cat Daddy: “I think that’s an actual plant, too”) and wolfsbane (Cat Daddy, tapping on his phone: “You’ve just named three ACTUAL PLANTS”).
I even asked a friend to name “the worst plant she could possibly think of” and, despite not having much horticultural experience, she said “deadly nightshade” without hesitation. (Well, her first guess was “cucumber” but I disqualified that for silliness.)
When we first moved into Le Château we were very strict about the plants we kept, because of Louis Catorze’s medical issues. But, as we started to realise just how many seeds were unstoppably air- and bird-borne, and how often Catorze pitter-pattered into other gardens with less desirable plants, we gradually became less strict. And it seemed that Catorze, despite not being blessed in the brain department, was cleverly able to ascertain which were to be avoided, such as the spiny butternut squash which he would clear with a flying leap when it strayed across the path. That said, knowing that we had the worst plant in the world in our garden – OVERLOOKING LE ROYAL NAP SPOT – didn’t fill us with joy. The little sod has shown no interest in consuming toxic matter in the past, but we know, don’t we, that if I assume or tell people that he won’t do it, he will. The deadly nightshade had to go.
So, whilst taking great pains not to dislodge any pollen, Cat Daddy snipped off the branches and dug up the roots. We can now relax knowing that the most lethal plant ever to exist won’t be shedding death-dust onto our precious boy as he sleeps. However, we feel somewhat less relaxed about future dinner invitations from that family member who told us to eat the berries, and we are drafting our list of excuses already.
See below for an indication of the the terrifying proximity of Sa Maj’s nap area to the devil-plant: