In a Vase on Monday: Murder Mystery

It was the butler wot did it, Guv – in the library, with the candlestick…

I couldn’t resist the murder mystery focus for this week’s vase, and I know when I last used this doll’s skull (dug up some years ago in the garden – but that’s another mystery!) some people found it rather macabre, so I apologise if this is again the case.

I blame the wind actually, not the butler, as it was the wind that blew over several stems of aconitum a few days ago. As gardeners, most of us know that aconitum is poisonous, and it does not pay to Google related incidents as not only will they make your flesh creep just reading them but you will also want to rush out and dig up any aconitum you have in your garden, which would be a shame as it makes an attractive clump, albeit a rather tall clump for the shorties amongst us to admire. The foliage and flowers are not dissimilar to delphiniums and I have printed off warning notices to tie onto the plants when we have our open days.

Donning appropriate hazmat clothing I cut the offending stems down before they could damage adjacent plants, but as they were all in bud I then cut the flowering ends off and popped them in this little Prinknash Pottery jug. Since being picked, some of the buds have begun to open, giving a hint of their distinctive inky blue ‘monk’s hood’ habit. At some stage in their growth the stems had acquired rather a kink, giving the group the appearance of a candelabra, and with my senses already tingling with the proximity of such noxiousness, my mind turned to the Cluedo boardgame and the ubiquitous candlestick which, more often than not, proved to be the murder weapon. Hmm, I don’t think there was a butler in Cluedo, so it was probably Professor Plum in that case, but I don’t suppose we shall ever know.

Perhaps you can create a more tasteful vase with pickings from your garden; if so, and you would like to share it with us, please leave links to and from this post.

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45 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Murder Mystery

  1. Noelle M says:

    Totally amused and entertained by the prose today Cathy. Its been very gusty hasn’t it, and with the chop your aconitum will revive and flower again after the ‘late Chelsea’. That’s not the ‘departed’ Person but the postponed annual flower show. Here is my arrangement this week:

    • Cathy says:

      I am glad the post went down well, Noelle, like the aconitum in the wind! It wasn’t the whole plant, but cutting the stems out has left a gap at the base

  2. Pingback: this week's bouquet - In My Spare Time

  3. I love Monkshood, and blithely grew it in a previous garden, cutting and touching, with no ill affect. I think… 🙂 My vase is a bit of a disaster this week, I’m afraid, despite an abundance of magnificent blooms everywhere…

  4. A very interesting post with a sinister twist. I have this plant in the back of my garden, but I would say it survives, not thrives. I so often forget it’s back there and never even notice when it blooms. I thank you for the reminder that it is poisonous, as I never remember that. I was just weeding back there the other day by this plant and saw a few new baby plants coming up. I gladly left them hoping I might eventually get a better showing of this plant. Now I’m really glad I didn’t touch them, especially since I didn’t have any gloves on.

    • Cathy says:

      If you have cuts and scratches on your skin like most gardeners it would be very wise indeed to wear gloves when handling aconitum

  5. pbmgarden says:

    Mystery and intrigue! Monkshood is one of those plants I’ve tried unsuccessfully to grow (actually it’s on a rather long list). I’m sure I handled it unsafely as I was told by my neighbor who passed it along it was poisonous, but I assumed that meant not to eat it. Hope your buds continue to open into that beautiful blue color. Thanks for hosting us Cathy.

    • Cathy says:

      I have no idea what conditions it likes but I have two or three plants (including a white one) and they have all grow well and been through the whole gamut of weather conditions

  6. That blood red background adds to the drama! Fun post. Here’s mine and thanks for hosting.

  7. karen says:

    Ooh. Dramatic! Love the theatre-display of your vase this week. Here’s mine.

  8. the running wave says:

    I was enjoying the dangerous red background too! All very dramatic and yes, good to remember that monkshood is very poisonous! I have been walking past a big stand of plants in the woods at Gosford House (see previous post) and because it is such a handsome flower I am always a bit worried unsuspecting souls might pick a stem or two. An entertaining vase! Got us all talking! Amanda

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Amanda, I am so glad I decided to go for the red background as it seems to have made the right sort of impact! Best to be careful with aconitum, particularly if they are growing wild or semi-wild ps you will be pleased to know that I went down the audio route for the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and both Granddaughter and Daughter (and Grannie!) are enjoying the story 🙂

      • the running wave says:

        That is excellent news! It is a wonderful book. I remember the first time I heard it was when our religious instruction teacher read it to us at school, when I was 13! There are bits which I think are maybe a little scary for 8 year olds, but Ella seems to be enjoying it! A

        • Cathy says:

          Well, I read it for the first time when I was about 6, and it clearly didn’t put me off reading! This granddaughter has recently turned 6 and is an advanced reader herself and I wanted to whet her appetite for the series! Whilst looking out books to record for her I have reread various E Nesbit ones – such good writing. My daughter remembered me reading The Wouldbegoods (only 30+ years ago …!)

  9. Sharon says:

    A wind related ‘Chelsea-chop”! I’ve never grown aconitum, I think they look sinister as well as being poisonous. Loving the red background. Here’s my offering
    I’ve offered two vases – decision-making after a hot day at the plot was a step too far.

    • Cathy says:

      I agree about it ‘looking’ sinister too, although I am never sure if that is a psychological association!

  10. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday | Wild Daffodil

    • Cathy says:

      It was more of a strong breeze here, and not unpleasant, taking the edge of the heat, but it still removed leaves and twigs – and blew over this aconitum!

  11. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: A Warm Glow | Words and Herbs

  12. Cathy says:

    A lovely way to use the candle-like stems. The wind has been terrible here too Cathy. I hope you have had no further damage than a few broken stems. We lost a birch tree. 🙁 Anyway, today is much calmer and here is my vase link:

    • Cathy says:

      Just minimal damage, Cathy, and it was refreshing in the heat. Sorry about your birch tree – had it been well established?

      • Cathy says:

        Well, none of our trees planted three years ago have had a good start with our third year of drought and such horrible wind too. We will have to rethink what to replace lost trees and shrubs with…

  13. Kris Peterson says:

    Well done, down to the blood red backdrop for your murderous plant. All sorts of plants in the garden are poisonous, or at least have some level of toxicity so, while I don’t taste many myself or encourage visitors to have a nibble, I don’t get overly worried about it. I haven’t planted Aconitum but that’s mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t grow in my climate. However, I admit to hesitating about growing the dramatic castor bean plants, which are so vigorous here that they grow along the local roadways. No murders in the border of my garden but sadly we’ve had looting in the streets. Here’s my post:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kris, and yes you are right – perhaps the aconitum is no more poisonous than other things in my garden, but if so I am not aware of the others!! Oh dear, I think I have missed some of the most recent US news as it seems to have escalated since I last heard anything…

  14. Anna says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your post Cathy before turning the computer off shortly to peruse my latest who dunnit. Aconitum is a fine plant indeed and as with all poisonous plants in the garden we need to have respect for them. The innocent looking daffodil grown in so many gardens can wreak havoc but that doesn’t mean that we should not grow them. It’s been years since I played Cluedo 😂

    • Cathy says:

      Hmm, I had forgotton about daffodils being poisonous, although I am sure no gardener would think of eating them – what about the sap, I wonder?

  15. Fun post, and I like your arrangement. I’m curious about the story around the doll’s head…

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Beth – we shall never know about the head of course, and I am guessing it had been there for at least 50 or 60 years…perhaps a vindictive little brother…?!

  16. Cathy I love the red background: it gives more intrigue to how you have developed your wonderful publication. The aconitum was the chandelier that killed the doll. But who buried it in your garden? Then you inadvertently dug up his skull and here it is, next to the murder weapon, as one would say in the board game Cluedo, which he played at 18 years old and a few have passed since then. I love the little ceramic jug Prinknash and it is beautiful for the aconitum that despite being poisonous they are divine and I love them. A magnificent vase. Cathy forgives me for not writing before, but I was very depressed and with the heat that we have, it is nothing for Madrid, 33ºC and the storms and rains that have not suffocated the heat but have made the atmosphere more rarefied, producing headaches. I hope you and the golfer are fine. Keep both of you safe. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh dear, Margarita. The heat and humidity are not helping your battle with depression, are they? Le’s hope the weather becomes more tolerable soon. Here we have had a little rain today after a month with none, and of course the garden is loving it and everything feels refreshed – but the UK has a more temperate climate than the Spain

      • Cathy thank you very much for your kind words. True, heat and humidity do not help depression. But Madrid is very hot and we arrive in the summer at 40ºC. But Spain is a country with many different climates. The North has a climate very similar to the United Kingdom. In the country house you have to sleep at night with the windows closed and a blanket, although at noon you have to take shelter from the sun, but you can eat in the garden under the pergola in the shade. Thank you very much for your concern. You are a friend. Take care. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

  17. Chloris says:

    Very sinister. My money’s on Colonel Mustard. A nasty colonial imperialist if ever there was one. I am always a little nervous of handling aconite, you do read alarming stories about its toxicity.

  18. tonytomeo says:

    They look like Brussels sprouts. Yum!

  19. Professor Plum in the dining room, I hope I got that right…I am endlessly fascinated by poisonous plant material – I am too far south for your lovely culprit.

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