She looks for the perfect video to play for her guests to set the mood. Does anyone remember the ‘Green Fingers’ episode of Night Gallery?
Watch it with the lights turned out! Listen to these classic lines:
“Think I’m going to be stopped by some antique broad with a pitch fork?”
“Everything I plant grows, everything… I think it’s the soil… it’s really an attitude… if a person loves the earth and growing things…”
“When we found her she was out there with a trowel, digging and planting”. “Planting what?”
And the classic, “Everything I plant grows, even me”.
You will never listen to the song Greensleeves in quite the same way after watching!
Then the gardener turns the lights back on and brings out some of her gardening books.
Everyone takes turns reading from Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart (Algonquin Books).
The gardener has pre-selected several readings that are particularly frightening including “Lawn of Death” which includes the story of Cogon grass which is sharp enough to cut a cow’s tongue and lips. Oh, my, what the government can do! Truly scary!
Then there’s the Stinging Tree, Dendorcnide moroiddes, found in Australian. It's guaranted to make you itch, imagining how the pain of its sting could drive a person to the edge of madness and beyond.
And to really scare her guests, the gardener reads the story of the deadly poisonous Monkshood, Aconitum napellus, which was mistakenly served at a dinner party, killing two guests.
Horseradish sauce anyone?
I highly recommend reading this book any time of the year. Gardeners, and non-gardeners, too, will enjoy reading the stories that Amy has to tell us about the wicked ways of plants.
Before the witching hour arrives, the gardener next invites guests to browse through Black Plants, by Paul Bonine (Timber Press), paying particular attention to the pictures of the orchid, Dracula vampira and the Devil’s Dracula orchid, Dracula diabola, which look as sinister and odd as their names imply.
Seeing 'Queen of the Nile' tulips listed in Black Plants reminds the gardener that she wrote about the possibility of handing out tulip bulbs to trick-or-treaters in her weekly newspaper column. But she doesn't really hand out tulip bulbs, she really hands out candy, and lots of it.
If you want to add dark blooms for contrast in your garden, grow some very novel plants, or plant an entire garden with a dark color theme, Black Plants is a great resource to have on hand.
Then as the witching hour approaches...
The gardener leads all her guests outside to scatter candy around the garden and wait for the Halloween Hare. Since sightings are rare, after a few scary moments listening to leaves rustle and the far off mournful howl of a dog, the shivering guests gather up all the candy, leaving a few pieces just in case, and head out into the night, with images of antique gardeners, wicked plants, black blooms and the mysterious Halloween Hare destined to keep them awake until dawn.
Then the gardener goes back inside to clean up the party mess and remembers that she should have told her guests that the two books used for the Halloween party were provided to her as review copies from the publishers to do with as she wished. They didn’t ask, insist, cajole, or hound her for reviews or threaten to trick her if she didn’t treat these books well!