Saturday, October 16, 2010

Themes for the Garden

A couple days ago, I went to the Tucson Botanical Gardens for their preview of the Wicked Plants display, and I have to say that when I entered the gardens, I got a different feel for the place.  It was busy with the butterfly exhibit, but it was more than that.....there was a "fall" feeling.  No, it wasn't from the plants....the plants are still green here in was from the art that was hung up around the gardens and in the gardens.  There was an energy that made the place look different. So naturally I began to think about why today was a lot of fun even though I've been to this place many times.....

First off, I want to say before I begin that I found that most volunteers were retired.  I guess it shouldn't surprise me because that's what I would do if I didn't work. It was so much fun to be around a united group of people working together for the same cause.
I walked into the meeting room which was beautifully decorated with amazing local artist's talent for the month of October.  It was mostly all Day of the Dead art work, more on this day later, and the theme in the gardens today was "Wicked Plants".  Of course, the idea behind it is to teach people about landscaping/household plants that have poison or can irritate you in some way.....maybe even kill you.  Yikes! Naturally oleander is on display:)  Back to the theme.....I was handed a brochure that was a dark scarlet color.  The letters were vampirish and on it was the title, "Wicked Plants".  I opened the brochure while waiting for our guest speaker....Dr. Ergot Ratbane.:)  Inside it had a map of the grounds with a trail to follow on all the different things you should think about before planting certain types of plants....sticky, spicy, poisonous, allergy prone, etc.  There were 18 spots in the garden that had all the plants grouped into different sections....titles like, "This Beauty is a Beast", "Friend or Foe?" "Dastardly Datura", "Super Stinkers", etc etc....and it got me excited about looking at things in a different way.

Then our speaker came out in a lab coat with glasses and hair spiked up.  I thought it would be the usual type speaker but instead it was someone who played the role of a crazy plant scientist...and that was unexpected. The crowd laughed while the Doctor stayed in character telling random stories about how people died from various plants...I know it sounds morbid, but it is close to Halloween:) The fact of the matter is that people were buying into the presentation and having a lot of fun during the learning process. 

The Office of Dr. Ergot Ratbane

It gets better.  A lot of school kids come by and while this exhibit is going on, people will be able to visit Dr. Ratbane and nurse Lan-tana in their lab.  They actually have a lab room for kids to use a microscope and look at the plants up was really something special.  Now when I walk by that area near the bathrooms, I'll always think, "That's Dr. Ratbane's office." 

So today I walk away from the gardens with an idea....themes to create magic in your own gardens.....and that sounds like a way to spruce up a desert home when our seasons don't change like elsewhere:)

Here is the official word from the website.....
"Open daily 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Plants are sneaky – they may be rooted to one spot but they’ve developed many ways to spread pollen and seeds, defend against  predators, and snare the food they need to survive. These tactics can be harmful to people and pets, even deadly! The Gardens Wicked Plants exhibit explores the more nefarious members of the plant kingdom – poisonous, carnivorous and just plain mean! Free with admission."


  1. That sounds wickedly fun! Oh, I wish I lived nearby so I could pop over!

  2. They had to do that to get their audience, maybe to the expense of the plant scientists! hehe. In the tropics where biodiversity abounds, the style of grouping plants is very informative and helpful. We have lots of plants to use, and actually if only i have more money i have been contemplating that in my head. We had a property which i want to organize and develop, and of course all plants are labeled and in another space will be my favorite: a butterfly garden and tutorials. School children will be mesmerized there. However, the question is, will it materialize!!! hahaha.

  3. That sounds a lot like one of my favorite books, Wicked Plants" by Amy Stewart. Best Read Ever.

  4. I love this post! You have inspired me to go to TBG. To feel Fall, to see autumn in nature...
    And I have added Rainforst Gardener's book recommendation to my reading list.
    Thank you!

  5. The Gardens exhibit is actually based on the Amy Stewart book. She will be visiting TBG in the Spring!

  6. Fabulous report. We are lucky to have you as our guide to this great little attraction. Sounds like fun.

  7. Amy!! What a great surprise to find you here!:) I didn't know Amy S. was coming....this is exciting....I saw her on an interview and would love to meet her in Spring. Your hubby was hilarious and did an amazing job at the presentation last week. It was a lot of fun. See you this weekend.:)


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