Night of the Living Jasmine


[in the voice of Vincent Price]

From dark and chilly depths of fetid yet well fertilized and mulched dirt, the beast reaches deeply into the abyss in search of evil nutrients and minerals of ill intent. Its sickly sweet scent fills the air mockingly, as a warning of what horrors await the gentle passers by. With icy tendrils reaching to the heavens that will no longer accept it, the cold grip seizes all that tread near.

Not only a grip to grasp maidens hair or heroes well coiffed mustaches, these skeletal fingers seek something more profound; your very soul. Move verily and hastily to safe quarters, dear traveler, for ye are beyond the safety of home and hearth!

The jasmine is among us!! For tonight belongs to it. The night of the living jasmine!! Mwahahaha!!


Just in time for Halloween, I have a tale of pure gardening horror and danger. But as with all tales, one must begin…well…in the beginning.

My plan was of noble and simple origins. To sweeten the air entering my bedroom with delicious jasmine flowers. Here in California, the winds are almost always blowing from the West to the East off of the ocean. When I was house hunting I brought along my trusty compass to make certain that sun and wind will be positioned to my favor. So, if I plant a jasmine vine by my back door where the breezes always waft into the house, I’d have my own natural air freshener. Genius right? Yes, yes it is.

What I failed to anticipate was how viney vines are. I began training this vine properly, but as it rose up columns it began to get away from me as I had nowhere to secure it above the columns. I thought I’d tackle that issue as it arose. Well, dear reader, it has risen!

And then some! It began reaching out in all directions to the point that I couldn’t exit the house without getting a face full of reaching tendrils. Some of them tipped with creepy crawly things! I had a friend record a typical day for me to show you. Here I am passing by the vine…

As you can see, something needed to be done! My thanks to Craig T. Nelson for coming over to help me out. And a special wag of the finger to Taylor for not chipping in and cuddling with that weird little blonde girl! Bad Taylor! Coward!!


As you can see, some serious training was in order…

Night of the Living Jasmine 02_The Back Porch

Night of the Living Jasmine 06_Jasmine Out of Control

Night of the Living Jasmine 07_Jasmine Out of Control Detail

So I decided that I should add a trellis of sorts to the back porch. I didn’t want to add something to the house that looked slapped together, so I decided to make it part of the structure and paint it to match.

I began by building a small frame to secure the lattice to that would hopefully blend in to the rest of the woodwork.

I used 3/4″ x 3/4″ solid hardwood stock to create the frame. Once it’s bolstered by the lattice, it should prove to be sturdy and resilient. The angles were a bit tricky and I needed a good solution for dealing with the space along the sideboards of the house. I opted for three evenly spaced square posts. Once it was all assembled it proved to be very sturdy.

Next I had to get a sample of the house paint to color match to for a fresh gallon of this unknown color. House-Flipper Boring Beige didn’t show up in any searches. Matching to three year weather patina would prove to be problematic, but time will heal that.

The lattice itself I cut with a muti-purpose tool. It was so thin that I worried that my circular saw would tear it to shreds. I also figured it would be wise to paint the lattice off of the frames because of all the nooks and crannies. So I put on my Pandora Tears for Fears radio station in the garage and set to work.

Night of the Living Jasmine 017_Painting the Lattice

Those of you with a keen eye may have noticed the creature looking down at me in the above photo. In case you did, allow me to explain… my dearly departed father was the Director of the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium for many moons. The planetarium is located at my alma mater, SUNY Buffalo. During two semesters, I had the opportunity to work there doing image work and writing a script for a planetarium show about the history of UFO sightings. I needed some props made for photos as well as live puppets for the show.

This is one of the props made.

When my father passed, so to did the planetarium. At least in its old form. The college is rebuilding the science building in which it was housed. A chilling yet poetic event. My father went into the ground and soon after his office and planetarium followed suit. An event I am most stoic and melancholy about. I am deeply sorry for you dear reader, because you will never be able to meet the sweetest and most amazing man that ever lived. That’s what makes me most sad from the whole affair, the way the world has been robbed. If you’d like to see a little bit about my poppa bear, check out the Facebook page I created in his honor. It’s very healing for me to share this, so please take the time.

Please forgive my divergence into such sad matters.

Let’s get back to the obnoxiously tedious process of hand painting lattice with a 1″ brush! Joy!! After a hour of this, I began to go a little mad.

Night of the Living Jasmine 020_Painting Lattice with a Brush Sucks

Were it not for the Tears for Fears, I may have snapped completely. Thanks 80’s trite pop music, I owe you more than you will ever receive.

After a few hours, the task was complete!

Night of the Living Jasmine 021_Painting the Lattice-Completed

I thought it best to drill some tiny through holes along the edges so I can hammer in little finish nails into the frame I built on the porch. It would keep the fragile lattice from splitting and becoming unsightly. Once completed I attached it to the frame.

A perfect fit! A little touch up paint to hide those finish nails and I was ready to add all that wayward and unruly jasmine. I used some bonsai wire to secure key vines in strategic locations along the front of the lattice and then trimmed all the longer and wispy ends off . Although it looks a bit sparse right now, the vines will fill in rather quickly. You see, all the roots have just enough sugars to push life into the vines that I just removed so that energy will now go towards lusher growth on what remains.

There you have it folks. Now my house is once again in order. Well, at least in this regard. The evil spirits of the haunted jasmine are once again at peace and this hapless warrior can now traverse the back exit without fear for his mortal soul. My natural air freshener can now look forward to a well manicured place of prominence upon my meager back porch.

Night of the Living Jasmine 035_The Finished Product 2


Post Script:

I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the photos I took for the feature image of this post. It was an exercise in the absurd and I’m fairly certain that if my neighbors didn’t think I was insane before, they most definitely do so now. So, without further adieu, I present to you the many faces of jasmine horror!

Night of the Living Jasmine 40_Collage of Horror

The image in the lower right corner is not actually me. It’s my stunt double. You most likely don’t know him, but I promised I’d mention him as he has worked with me for many decades now. His name is Bruce Willis. He’s a good kid and has a bright future. Cheers Bruce.

Night of the Living Jasmine 037_Homage to Bruce Willis


0 Replies to “Night of the Living Jasmine”

  1. First off you are hilarious. Second you have too much time on your ha did. And third you need to get a hold of that because those vines will creep in like a black and white horror film from the 40s. They will sneak up on you with terrible shrieking music and it will be all over. That’s not the way you want to go man.

    1. M’lady speaks much truth! This month marks my first full year of blogging and this is my 90th post! I feel like I’m finally getting into my groove and my inner nonsensical self is finally being released. I hope that’s okay with everyone, cuz it’s only going to get more goofy as we progress.

      That said, the vines are properly trained and held fast to their shackles. I will be their master!

      So glad you’re entertained! This was a fun one to write. Share the love 😉

  2. You are the best neighbor ever – you make every frustration of gardening, spiders and drought a little bit easier. Thanks for every blog. I read them and laugh.

    1. Aww shucks. Thanks Julie! And triple thanks for those AMAZING homemade biscotti!! I ate them all while sipping coffee and writing this post! So you fueled my humor and wrath.

      Anytime you need a plant sitter, I’m your man. Just keep the baked goods coming 😉

  3. Haha–yes, vines are incredibly viney! I bet your jasmine will swallow up the new trellises and then take over your house … it might even be energy efficient! We have the same problem with our Interlaken grape vine, which reaches out to strangle everything on our deck. I see you’ve dealt with that challenge, too. Congrats on your first blog year! I just (b)logged three, and I’ve done 90 posts, too! It really is fun to find your voice, isn’t it?

    1. Thank you m’lady! It is a blast, especially when I force myself to sit down and write instead of farting around the yard. 90 posts in one year is a lot considering how damn long I make them. I’m working on having more short ones in between because I know peoples attention spans aren’t always what I think they should be. Including my own.

      As for the jasmine, I’ve promised myself to not let it grow on the inside of the lattice. So I’ll be keeping a pair of snippers right on the railing of the porch to trim away every time I leave for work in the morning. The outside will get seasonal pruning as needed.

      I have a background in bonsai so I tend to be aggressive when it comes to training and pruning. I use my katana for the task to instill fear and respect.

  4. Love the combination of practical gardening advice and b-movie horror! I wish I could manage to keep the plants around me growing, but I have a bit of a black thumb (isn’t that what it’s called when every plant that you touch dies?)… My most successful gardening endeavor was with keeping a snake plant alive indoors over the winter, but I’m pretty sure that you literally need to hire a hitman to kill those plants!

    1. Funny, I used to be a snake plant assassin. The pay was terrible and my conscience never at ease.

      I’m glad you like my colorful gardening tips. There’s too much normalcy in the realm of gardening advice. I need to spice it up a bit for fear that I may turn into Martha Stewart.

      It’s not a good thing.

      My next post is certain to get me sued by Disney as I’m getting a wee bit loose with Star Wars copyright infringement. I hear that they have one or two lawyers on retainer. Can’t be certain. Regardless, stay tuned for that one as it may not be up for long…

      1. I couldn’t agree more. You should sue the creators of the show.
        Oh sorry I meant to say, hunt them down, break their legs and beat the shit out of ’em with their own femurs.

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