As the smoke curled under the beech canopy that separates our daughter’s garden from the dense woodland beyond, I had no regrets. This was a necessary cremation. Yes, the uninvited Datura stramonium, along with its hallucinogenic properties and fatal toxicity, was well and truly torched. According the Royal Horticultural Society, burning is one of the safest means of disposal, after the seeds have formed.
I’ve been reminded that the plant is steeped in folklore, and perhaps I did disturb the balance a little with my actions, as the electricity went off shortly after the fire died down. Although the upside to that particular twist was a trip to our favourite pub for a family lunch.
En route home from the pub, I decided to visit a local village churchyard. No, not to seek sanctuary from ancient curse of the murdered thorn apple, but to check the details of a headstone. When she first moved to the area, our daughter spotted a familiar name among the ranks of weathered stones, during an exploratory walk around All Saints.
She had accidentally discovered the last resting place of her 3 x great grandmother, Emma Gregory. I’ve checked and double-checked our family history records, and everything fits. Emma was born in Poxwell, Dorset, in 1832, and married Asher Gregory in 1848. We know that she and her husband moved to Hampshire some time after 1881. Asher had previously worked as a farm bailiff, but in 1887 he was the tenant farmer of a local manor farm. Sadly for him, 1887 was also the year of Emma’s death, aged 55.
I intend to plant something pretty in Emma’s memory…and to ease my conscience a little over the blessed thorn apple.
WHO DIED MARCH 19th 1887
AGED 55 YEARS
BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, WHICH DIE IN