Thursday, June 07, 2007


"Thou fool! Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom; that idle crag thou sittest on is six thousand years of age."
- Thomas Carlyle

Carlyle probably wasn’t referring to ceramic mushrooms, which presumably had yet to be invented. I can’t decide whether I’m more taken by his concept that mushroom are the oldest art, or by the uncanny number he uses to depict the age of rocks: six thousand years. If Carlyle had meant that literally, it would place him in contention for a blue ribbon in a stupid theory of creation contest. Sadly, today, he wouldn’t be alone.

My backyard – sitting as it does in the middle of a pile of big granite rocks and decomposing granite covered with a thin layer of fine brown dirt in which nothing lives but little black ants – is the perfect setting for container gardening. And containers provide the perfect laboratory to juxtapose plant materials that have no business cohabitating in nature. Like my garish green ceramic mushroom, thriving amid lime green thyme.

I have recently moved my red ceramic mushroom to a new home. A while ago, I made the case that the red mushroom is Fly Amanita (Amanita muscaria) – a poison mushroom. I consider it another relative to Dudley Nightshade – in spirit if not in species.

My recent preoccupation with deadly plants like ceramic poison mushrooms and nightshades in the solanacae family is merely a curious coincidence. Now, enjoy your cup of mint tea, my dear. I’ve whittled you a spoon from my oleander bush to stir in the sugar…

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