Like so many other families we adopted a puppy after the first couple of months of lockdown. Thankfully the Valley Humane Society was still arranging adoptions with special safety measures in place.
Little Archie has been a playful, fun and cute addition to our household and has drawn our attention to certain things that had become part of the background. The ornamental Plum tree in our garden being one of those!
Spring Awakening Photograph by Vanessa Thomas
It’s a tree that produces the prettiest blossoms in Spring and an abundance of tiny plums in Summer so it’s a pleasure to have in the garden. Little Archie was excited to play with the little burgundy fruit balls which of course was a nightmare because plums pits are toxic to dogs!
So on a blistering hot Summer’s day during a Zoom call break my husband took on the task of pruning the tree and I helped to collect some of the fallen fruit. What a task!
It seemed such a waste to simply add them to the garden refuse so of course I set a few aside to photograph first. For those of you who are interested – here is also a pic of little Sir Archie.
Nerium Oleander, another pretty flower on a toxic shrub. It is not as deadly as Angel’s Trumpets although ingestion can cause poisoning when someone sucks nectar from the flowers or chews leaves from the plant. Poisoning can also happen if you eat honey made by bees that used the oleander plant for nectar. Best to keep dogs and kids away from it.
Brugmansia, more commonly known as Angel’s Trumpets are well suited to their name and look positively angelic in the early morning light. Do not be deceived by their heavenly name and scent though as they are deadly poisonous so if you eat them you could meet your maker. This large shrub with it’s impressive blooms belongs to the Solanaceae family along with a plant called Deadly Nightshade for good reason, all parts of Brugmansia are poisonous, with the seeds and leaves being especially dangerous.
The nearby Tassajara Creek offers wonderful photo opportunities and while I was out trying some scenic outdoor pics I came across this bloom. It reminded me of the Horse Chestnuts I had seen in the UK only the flowers were packed much closer on the stalk. After some research I found out that it is Aesculus Californica, California Buckeye aka California Chestnut. The fruits are poisonous, and they were used as fish poison by the Pomo, Yana, Yokut and Luiseno peoples (Kroeber, 1925). Nifty fishing method…As I walked away from the tree, a Swallowtail Butterfly also made it’s appearance and I was fortunate enough to get a shot of it.
Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) is the quintessential English toadstool with its bright red colour and little white spots. The fleshy toadstool is actually the spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus and as it matures the white spots drop off and it flattens out. Fly agaric derives its name from the practice of using it to attract and poison flies, often broken up into milk or sprinkled with sugar. It is also toxic to humans.