Welcome to Lee’s gardening advice for June written by local resident and keen gardener, Lee Stevenson (aka An English Gardener in Çalış).
Firstly well done to all who entered the inaugural Fethiye Flower Show gardening competition, especially the winners.
Don’t forget there is still time to get growing and enter our fun competition mentioned in the April article; grow the largest or heaviest pumpkin, the tallest sunflower, longest chilli, largest circumference tomato, or weirdest looking vegetable or fruit.
Beautiful but deadly
Whilst some plants are strange looking, others can be beautiful to look at, but quite deadly.
Angel’s Trumpet, which can be found growing here in Fethiye, is highly poisonous if consumed. The leaves, stems and seeds of angel’s trumpet can cause nausea, diarrhoea, paralysis and hallucinations. Over consumption can also result in death.
The entire plant is toxic to pets.
Cicuta or water hemlock
Cicuta or water hemlock is one of the most toxic plants that grows freely in the wild. Reaching a height of 2 to 2.5 meters with small umbrella shaped green or white coloured flowers, the plants thick main stem contains extremely toxic liquid that is highly dangerous for humans and will affect the central nervous system instantly.
Poison hemlock or other members of the same Apiaceae family which are sometimes confused with water hemlock are also poisonous but in a different way. The roots and seeds of these plants are toxic but mainly affect cattle and other animals that graze. I have read about instances of a nasty rash on children who have gone through fields where it grows.
Oleander is another shrub that grows wild here in Fethiye. Did you know that all parts of this plant are toxic?. Digitoxigenin, neriin, oleandrin and olendroside are the main poisonous ingredients, mostly concentrated within the leaves and stem of the plant. The sweet smelling blooms, which can be white, pink or red, are also toxic. The toxic elements in the oleander plant is not toxic to birds but ingestion by humans will affect the heart and central nervous system causing irregular heart rate, vomiting, salivation and diarrhoea so don’t go chewing the leaves or tasting the nectar of the flowers.
Castor bean plant
Castor bean plant (yes, the oil comes from this plant) is another plant seen growing wild here in Fethiye. Most people know castor oil can be used to treat different skin conditions, reduce pain and as an antiviral. The seeds from which the oil is made, contain ricin which is an extremely dangerous toxin. It is also present in other parts of the plant but in low concentration.
Ricin is 6000 times more poisonous than cyanide one of the most poisonous substances ever known. Poisoning from castor beans depends upon the amount consumed. In humans it causes a burning pain in the mouth, pains, drop in blood pressure and diarrhoea. Without proper treatment, it can cause death within 24 hours.
The affect of castor beans on animals varies by species.
Some lilies can also cause a fatal reaction. The star lily toxicity is so well known it is known as the death camas. Eating peace lilies and calla lilies will cause swelling of the mouth affecting the tongue, top of the mouth and lip.
Lilies are extremely toxic to cats if eaten and even the brushing against the plant when grooming its coat could prove lethal to a cat.
Try not to be worried by any of the above as most require consumption to be dangerous … and who’s going to try eating flowers? – unless you’re a hippy.
Plants that can be helpful
Don’t believe the old ‘wet the bed’ story from when you were a kid ( I can just about remember). Consuming dandelions is a proven diuretic and your liver’s best friend, helping to detox your entire body. Dandelions also contain potassium and some use it to treat eczema, intestinal problems and arthritis. Its leaves also help to regulate blood sugar.
Read more at: https://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/dandelions/
Rosemary is one of the oldest plants in our diet. According to recent studies rosemary can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Its oils naturally fight bacteria and fungi in your body’s well as your home. Ophelia’s famous words in Hamlet “There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembrance”, refer to the plants ability to strengthen memory by improving blood circulation in the brain.
For years, people have used the secretions of this plant for burns, cuts or superficial infections. It’s great for digestion if you take it with juice.
Celery is another great diuretic. The seed extract of this vegetable reduces blood pressure in animals and yields sedative and anti-convulsive affects for humans. However excessive consumption may cause photodermatitis (skin reaction to sunlight).
According to the medical horticultural society of Massachusetts, a tea made from the leaves is an astringent, a diuretic and an expectorant. It also works to reduce fevers. Consuming sunflowers helps alleviate cold symptoms and its ability to remove toxic substances lead to the Russian Government using it to clean the floors at the Chernobyl Power Plant after the nuclear disaster.
Enough about plants, how about growing some?
Nasturtiums are colourful and easy to grow from seed right up until August. Some can be trained to climb and are great coverage plants. They are also great companion plants for vegetable crops. The flowers and leaves can be added to salads, adding a slightly peppery taste.
Limnanthes douglasii (Poached egg plant), with its distinctive white and yellow flowers, is a hardy annual that will self-seed and naturalise in your garden.
Candelabra Primulas or Primrose can be grown from seed now for flowering in Jan/Feb.
Cosmos. If you haven’t grown any yet, there’s still time to grow them from seed and it’s easy to save seeds for following years. I have orange, white, pink and purple varieties which can grow to anything from a foot to seven feet tall (online sources mention three feet but mine have grown to seven feet here) depending on location and watering, They are also drought tolerant so a great plant for the weather here.
Sunflowers. There’s still enough time to grow them from seed. Choose a sunny spot for best results but they will still grow happily with partial shade. There are more varieties then the yellow kind you know and love. I have seen teddy bear sunflowers growing here and I always grow giant red and harlequin sunflowers myself as they produce lots of flower heads on one plant. This benefits bees and other pollinators – and birds once the seeds set.
Vegetables that can be planted now include lettuce that you can grow in containers for cut-again salads, spring onions which you can sow weekly for harvests right into late October, cucumbers, radish (always fast growing) and rocket (another fast growing salad).
There’s still time to grow pumpkins if you have the room as they can grow from seed to fruit (squash) in three months. Remember some varieties can grow a foot per day and spread out 30 feet in all directions. I train mine to grow where I want them.
That’s it for this month, I hope you’re all having a go at growing something, even if its just in a pot on a window sill.
I’ll leave you with this…
Somebody has definitely been adding soil to my garden …The Plot thickens!
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