A wonderous day out at Kew Gardens, looking for inspiration for new designs. Always plenty to see and although it was quite windy, the sun was shining and there was a hint of spring in the air and a feeling it may be just around the corner!
While mooching in the bookshop, I came across a very interesting book - a real botanical cabinet of plant curiosities!
Wicked Plants, by Amy Stewart is an A - Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate and otherwise offend ;) if you have an mother in law living at the top of your house in the old attic that you wish you were rid of - you should not read this book - as a measure of bad medicine would surely be found!
It comes with a warning on the back - "BEWARE! The sordid lives of plants behaving badly"
MANDRAKE - May not be the worst thing in the night shade family, but has a fearsome reputation! But the source of the mandrake's power lies underground. Its long pointed root can grow up to four foot and Romans believed mandrake could kill demonic possession.
Flavius Josephus a 1st century Jewish historian described one method for surviving the mandrakes horrible screams when being tugged from the ground: A dog would be tied to the base of the plant with a rope, the owner could then retreat to a safe distance, then when the dog would run away. Even if the screams killed the dog, a person could pick up the root and use it!
What a poisonous plant it is! Mandrake was slipped into wine to make it a powerful sedative.
"The rose in thy lips
and cheeks shall fade
To paly ashes
They eyes windows fall
Like death when he shuts up the day of life"