Native Son: Monstera, Inc.

I have no idea how many hours/days Steven works on these masterpieces, but I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! (Neil)

Here at Powis Castle in Transvaal Daisy-uh, the Dracula Orchid has drained the Bloodroot right out of Sweet Cherry and turned her into Corpse Lily … before transmogrifying himself into a Bat-Faced Cuphea and flying away into the Night Cestrum.

In the eerie Nightshade of a Full Moon Maple, the high priestess, Voodoo Lily, carefully stirred her cauldron of Ghost Peppers, Devil’s Ivy, Butcher’s Fingers, Cat’s Eye, Chicken Gizzard, Dragon’s Teeth…and her specialty spices … five Black Mamba Begonias, four Snake Dancer Gourds, three Snakewood Trees, two Cobra Lilles, and one magnificent Snake’s Beard. She was indeed a Rattlesnake Master.

So the Witchhazels, led by Belladonna, fired up their Witches’ Brooms and headed off into the Black Cosmos. By Dawn Redwood, they returned with not only an Elephant’s Ear, a Lion’s Beard, some Bloody Fingers, a Twisted Rib Cactus, and some Cobweb Houseleeks, but also the Devil’s Head, including the Devil’s Tongue, and some Devil’s Claws. They also collected the Devil’s Walking Stick. Only Twisted Myrtle complained; “My Boojum hurts!”

Hopefully you’ve been happy with my Halloween Horseplay/Horticultural Hijinks so far … because you know how my mind wanders, so you know I’m not done, even if I’ve strayed a bit off topic. Hence…

Heather became engaged to the guy from Rome … because the Italian Aster.

How can you tell a good gardener? They know their Hedera from their Aspidistra.

Continued Below

When Sweet William saw a fair Maidengrass in danger, he fought off the Dragon Tree with his Flaming Sword and Spanish Dagger until the Dragon’s Blood Sedum flowed freely. He stood over the Dragon’s Bones and proclaimed, “Achillea!” He looked back to see Johnny Jump Up and snag Weeping Laurel, taking her off into the Bitter Oak forest where the Horse Crippler lived. Sweet William was forced to open his last can of Woop Ash with his Bayonette and headed off into the Foresteria, never to be seen again.

“Hey, Freckle Face! Isn’t the name “Orange Ginger” redundant?”
“Hey, Monkey Face! Better to be a Sweet Orange than a White Ash.”

Meanwhile, at the Zucchini … The Alligator Juniper named Sawtooth Oak escaped its Penstemon, ate a Turtlehead, a Parrot Lily, and three Possumhaws before biting the Elephant’s Foot. He is now known as Squash.

A horticulturist named Stevia went to see Dr. Sorrell, who told him to lose that Buddha’s Belly Bamboo and give up those Cigar Flowers or he’d be Sycamore. After two years of eating nothing but expensive spices, Stevia returned as a Slender Oak, only to find out his Physicnut had Pastora away. The Morel of the story… Better to be Saffron than Sorrell.

Swamp Holly lived in a Rattlebox house on Poverty Pine Street with Texas braggart Hairy Sumac until she met a Ragged Sailor from Ohio named Rock Rose. The men arranged a duel. Standing Cypress back-to-back, then Walking Iris for ten paces, the men spun Arundo and filled each other with Bullet Holes. Swamp Holly shed Widow’s Tears until she realized they were both Deadnettle … then she thought, “Wait-A-Minute … I don’t need to be a Tortured Willow…” One Mile-A-Minute later, she rejoiced, “Wahoo! I got rid of a Texas Ash and a Stinking Buckeye at the same time!”

I thought I saw a Burning Bush, but it turned out to be a smoldering Torch Flower.

Ugly Agnes was a Stay-In-Place Wallflower until a Cheeky Yam selling Scotch Brooms knocked on her door. She warned him, “Touch Me Not!,” but once he called her Sweet Violet and gave her a Wink-A-Peep, it was all Love-In-Mist … for a while. Seems her Hercules Club with the Hairy Chestnut was actually a Rusty Nannyberry with a penchant for being a Couch Potato. So she tossed his Prickly Ash to the curb, got herself a nice Bachelor Button named Red Bud, and became a beautiful Swan Flower. Now she says, “Sweet Red Pepper, Forget Me Not!”

Continued Below

Given time, those cute little Pussy Toes will grow into Catclaws; those sweet little Catnips into Toothed Viole(n)ts.

Sure, Harry Potter had a Lionheart when fighting the Dragon Trees with his Wandflower, but is he Smartweed enough to solve the Monkey Puzzle? Ask Hermione.

I sassed a Witch-Alder once … just once. Now I have a Beardtongue, a Rat-Tail, a Crowfoot, a Drooping Cedar, two Hairy Palms, and a bad case of Swamp Ash on my Monkey’s Butt!

A tip o’ the hat and hearty thanks to Dr. Michael A. Arnold for including the most interesting collection of common plant names known to me in his book, Landscape Plants for Texas and Environs. This 1337-page beast of a book should be on the shelf of every Texas horticulture professional, and keen gardeners as well.


Things are Rockin’ at the Longview Arboretum!
ROOTS Fall Concert Series
Thursday nights (Only 2 shows left!)
October 19 – Covie
October 26 – Dagnabbit
Tickets – $10 adults; 12 & under – free
Gates open at 5pm; Concert starts at 6pm
Coolers and chairs welcome
BYOB Bring a picnic!

The first annual Tree Fest & Birthday Bash Extravaganza!
November 4, 2023 — Longview Arboretum & Nature Center
A full day of family fun, starting with the Pilar McLemore Memorial 5K Fun Run.
Live chainsaw carving! Tree planting demonstrations! Free trees!
Live Concert! Songwriting classes!
Hot air balloon candle glow! Laser light show!
Food Trucks, vendors, raffle!
For more details, check out our Facebook page or call 903-212-2181.

And finally, my personal favorite … SpookyFest 2023!
Sunday, October 29 Noon to 4pm
The perfect pre-Halloween event for families with young children! Basically, you wear your costume and walk around the garden … we give you candy and a smile.

To be honest, SpookyFest isn’t really very spooky, but we love the name.


Just so you know … the Longview (Texas) Arboretum & Nature Center is OPEN! Hours are 10am-5pm, Wednesday through Saturday; Sunday 12 noon-5pm. Come out and see us! And bring your own brand of Zen! 903-212-2181

I need a road trip! Let me know if you’d like me to come and speak to your group sometime. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and you know I like to go just about anywhere. No city too big; no town too small. Just send me an e-mail at and we’ll work something out.

Posted by Steven Chamblee
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