Monday, 19 January 2015

dog bane plants in the garden

I took a cutting of an interesting plant about a year ago and it's grown big. I've been wondering what it is, and decided to stroll around Bulleen Art and Garden, my favourite nursery.

And there it was, labelled as 'Dog Bane.'

Hmm... I thought to myself, I should research this and decide whether to keep it in the garden. So I started looking, and nearly fell off my chair when I saw that a plant called Dog Bane would be deadly to Penny. I was about to race outside to put it up on a bench so she couldn't nibble on it, but I must admit I took a moment to enjoy the Latin name  - apocynum cannabinum - the first word of which means 'away dog'. I remember once discovering that the word 'cynic' comes from the Latin word for dog.

But then I noticed that the photos of this dogbane plant didn't look like my plant, and discovered to my relief that an American plant, very dangerous, has the same name as a European plant that is not so dangerous. The European one is plectranthus caninus, and although it's supposed to deter dogs from digging in the garden, it doesn't come with the scary warnings.

Here's a site with lots of ideas about how to combine dog ownership with gardening. The interesting part for me is this:
Plectranthus caninus
Dogsbane is a succulent-like plant that has showy large lavender-like flowers in spring and summer. Growing to about 80cm x 50cm high, the musky green leaves apparently deter dogs from digging in the garden. Prefers well-drained soil in a sunny or semi-shaded position. An attractive plant best used at the front of a garden bed even if you don't have a dog.
There's a gorgeous photo of a plectranthus flower on this page. You'll see why I really don't want to get rid of my plant unless I have to.

And, just when I thought I'd got my head around this confusion, a friend visited today, looked at my plant and said, 'What's this? It looks like my dogwort plant.'

So, I headed back to the Internet to check out that name and found little about it, except at one site where dogwort was said to be plectranthus neochilus, a herb with winter flowers shaped like lavender.

An African site lists plecranthus neochilus as 'spur flower' and says it's reputed to scare away snakes. That would certainly be a great feature, here in Australia, lol.

The bottom line is, this plant doesn't seem to be dangerous to Penny.


Mitch and Molly said...

What a pretty plant! We can see why you want to keep it and we're glad it's not harmful to Penny.
Yes, swans can live a long time in captivity when they are fed and cared for.
And about the prove that you're not a robot thingie - you can fly right past it - pay no attention to it and comment. Blogger can be so annoying sometimes!

Love ya lots♥
Mitch and Molly

parlance said...

Thanks, Mitch and Molly's human!