Avant Gardening


Happy Halloween everyone! As you’re prepping for trick-or-treaters tonight, costume parties and haunted houses… (Or maybe you’re just recovering from all the excitement of the festive weekend)…

Take a quick break and read about some devilish, sinister plants that you could creep into your ghostly gardens next year to scare the pants of some innocent passerby.

Bahwahaha (insert bloodcurdling scream here)!!

img_20151015_095921256Common Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

The name of this plant, Common WITCH hazel, conjures up some spooky images of witches and bubbling cauldrons… But the flowers are the real nightmare-makers! Blooming this time of year, the flowers induce images of some creepy crawly creatures… SPIDERS! These alarming, bright yellow flowers have strap-like petals that curl outwards like the crooked legs of some small arachnids. In autumn, the leaves turn golden yellow and begin to fall off while the flowers hold on tight, giving it the look of multiple spiders scurrying up the branches.


summer1-090Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia compressa)

Did you know Wisconsin has a native cactus? Hopefully you don’t stumble onto this spikey fellow without knowing or you’re in for a SCREAM! They are very prickly (hence their name) the pads contain large spines as well as tiny tufts of barbed spines which are extremely fine and hard to see – called glochids. There are actually many medicinal uses for prickly pear cactus, both the fruit and the pads are edible (if you are brave enough to try it!)


img_20151015_095733098Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)

This plant gets the #1 spot of our top three list because it can literally kill you – no punny jokes here! The seeds of this deadly plant contain Ricin, which is one of the most poisonous naturally occurring substances known to man. It has been said that one seed can kill a child. This plant is not to be messed with! Castor bean plant is grown as an annual in our climate and has a very attractive, tropical look with interesting large serrated leaves. It is often used in seasonal annual displays for these aesthetic qualities.