Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A Nice Green Leaf: Your baked potato's sexy cousin


I bought a £7.99 Brugmansia from Wyevale earlier this summer, thinking it would be one of those impulse purchases that never comes to flower. So how wrong was I? I feel (as usual) ridiculously pleased with myself for getting the plant to this size, even though garden writer and fellow enthusiast Jane Owen said to me this afternoon: "Well they are easy, they're just such tarts," which took me down a peg or two.

I think Brugmansias are the nuttiest flowers I've ever grown in the sense of sheer unadulterated wow and madness. These things are actually bigger than a wood pigeon (the fattest comparable thing currently in my garden). And they appear from nowhere. The proof is in this timelapse (never let it be alleged that I don't bring you timelapse anymore).

But the bit that drives me the most crazy is the extraordinary scent, which has a lemony start followed by aDatura_flower whole rush of peculiar smelling perfume that makes me feel as if I want to climb over the fence into everyone else's garden, strip naked and start dancing.

Evidently it's not just me, though, who gets sent a bit loopy by the moonflower. It turns out the genus have been used in magic rituals since before recorded history. The plant's most powerful chemicals are tropane alkaloids, but to many consumers it would be enough to know the plant's a member of the Nightshade family. Even if that does also include potatoes.

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