Canna flowers

I generally grow cannas for their foliage, but the flowers on these are pretty nice too. They’re in containers this year (including a big, heavy concrete/hypertufa one I made last year to resist blowing over), but plan to put most of them in a bed next to the water garden next year where they should stay nice and wet without watering them every day or so.

Canna flower

Canna flower

Blue-bottle and auger ‘flower’ with Scotch thistle

Vignette with blue-bottle and ship-building auger ‘flower’ and Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium), the greyish plants in the foreground. The Scotch thistle is only supposed to be hardy to Zone 6, but three plants I grew from seed a few years ago have seeded themselve around pretty well. But that’s OK, I love them.

Augers, bottles, and Onopordum acanthium

Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis (Castor bean)

A friend once asked me why I bothered growing castor beans. Well if not for the foliage, the architectural form, or those cute fuzzy seed pods, maybe it was just to make sure I got on a terrorist watchlist somewhere for being a regular purchaser of seed.

The plant is highly poisonous (hence deer-resistant) and the beans can be processed to make a very potent poison. (A local seed company reported a big sale of seed to some guy who turned out just to be disturbed, not dangerous.) From the Cornell poisonous plants website:

In 1978, ricin was used to assassinate Georgi Markov in 1978, a Bulgarian journalist who spoke out against the Bulgarian government. He was stabbed with the point of an umbrella while waiting at a bus stop near Waterloo Station in London. They found a perforated metallic pellet embedded in his leg that had presumably contained the ricin toxin.

Castor bean

Castor bean