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Succulent Vines

I hate the word succulent. It should only be used by EXTREMELY creepy vampires who are speaking of pale, wasting virgins in empire waist dresses, and then the vampires should IMMEDIATELY be staked for saying it, preferably by someone good looking and ruddy, who should then swoop the girl off her fainting couch and marry her and get her a transfusion and a proper lay.

It goes without saying that all this should take place in 1897.

If you run around saying succulent WITHOUT it being 1897, and worse, if you are not a creepy vampire—-CREEPY, do you hear me? You can’t be a sparkly, angsty Pattinson one or a Quentin Tarantino RAVAGEY BEASTY one or a Kate Beckinsale anti-hero kick-butty one, or a slow, moving sex-potty one like Catherine Deneuve. You have to be a droopy and rock a wispy, sex offender mustache. You should be all pale with long hands that look preternaturally MOIST—- a CREEPY vampire, and you must be tired of life and willing to be staked no more than 18 seconds after saying it.

OTHERWISE do not use this word. If you do….well, you won’t be STAKED, I mean, this is AMERICA. But no one is going to want to sit by you at a dinner.

When I was in—I think fifth grade? The grade my daughter is in now, my BFF Yvonne Ford and I tried to come up with the CREEPIEST MOST VILE COMBO OF SOUNDS a person could make in English. Obviously it would have to have succulent IN it. Our final answer is the title of this blog entry. It’s just gross. It is GROSS to say—the lascivious hissing of all those sibilants combined with the slip and pulse of the C and V sounds. GAH! GAH! NO!

Peeled away from the terrible S word, I quite like Vines. I like vine as a word and as an entity. Are you on the fence about vines? Consider: Some vines have grapes. Grapes make Petit Sirah. Case closed.

If that doesn’t do it for you, other vines have been put in charge of making wisteria and honeysuckle, two of the three best flower smells EVER. (Gardenia.)

Kudzu is a vine and it EATS WHOLE CARS and BUILDINGS and CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT and CORPSES, and makes the eaten thing a bushy, oddly cornered heap, and then in winter the leaves drop away leaving a skeletal lace of brown wire in a cage the shape of the eaten thing, which SO SO SO danger-cool. I LIKE a good vine, myself.

My husband is a vine hater.

So we got rid of the yard service because they were doing all the grunty-work things we CAN do (mow, edge, trim the hedge, hurl mulch) and not doing any of the things we CANNOT do (Understand what the hell all these plants are, tell a plant from a weed, and know what we need to do to the plants to have them not die.)

So this weekend “we” did a lot of yard work. I use this word, “we,” loosely to mean EVERY HUMAN IN MY FAMILY who is technically not me. On gardening days, I suddenly remember that as much as I like the yard to be pretty and full of birds when I look at it like a civilized person, by which I mean FROM MY WINDOW, I actually hate worms and dirt and plants. And sunshine. And fresh air. Also, mosquitos like me BEST. On yard work days, I realize I want to concrete over the whole yard and paint it green.

SO we means them as I was absolved. Also my deadline is like, 4 weeks away. I was inside writing a book, people. She said defensively. Also, I CLEANED THE BATHROOM. BY MYSELF. Even the TOILET. LIKE A SUPERHERO. SO! You may present me with medals now.

Anyway WE (ahem cough cough) went out and did a bunch of things to the beds which included MURDERING VINES and pretending we thought they were weeds. Here “we” is just my husband.

He did NOT kill the wisteria that Maisy is coaxing up the arbor because she would have LOST it. It is her especial pet wisteria. He cannot murder it, even though he is CONVINCED that we will glance away for a bare second away and find the wisteria has EATEN THE ENTIRE HOUSE.

I told him, no, that won’t happen. He is pretty sure it will. He relentlessly MURDERED the poor decorative ivy at our last house. And when I came out from my slavish work with the scrubbing bubbles, I found several plants had been banished fromt he beds on suspicion of being VINES. Even one thing I am pretty sure was a PUMPKIN vine, and that I was hoping would produce something for us this fall.

Here is the only possible vine he had not gotten to before I came out. It might be a vine. It might be a weed. If it is a vine, it needs to be thinned down so it doesn’t choke that dear little fern, but if it is weeds, it needs to go.

My questions for you.


2) What kind of vampire would YOU be?

3) What is the second most vile sounding 2 word phrase in English. (You already know the first….)

38 comments to Succulent Vines

  • It’s hard to tell without a close-up shot of the leaves, but they look kind of mint-y to me, at least toward the front. Toward the back, the leaves that are darker green and kinda shiny look like maybe periwinkle? Just hard to tell. If I’m right about either of those, they can choke out the fern – both spread pretty quickly and easily. Maybe a real garden expert will come on and give you more than wishy-washy maybe answers 🙂

  • Pachysandra. The picture at Wikipedia is almost identical to yours. It is a perennial that stays green in cold weather and very desirable up here in New England where everything dies in the winter.

    Here’s a link to the picture:

  • Jennifer in NC

    1) Looks like Pachysandra to me. Pachysandra is an evergreen groundcover. Usually plays nicely in the shade with ferns. It has tiny flowers- mostly grown for the greenery. As with any groundcover, it can get out of hand and cover your grounds…Just tell husband to keep an eye on it. If it gets too thick, just pull some up and share it with friends and neighbors.

    2) I don’t want to be any sort of vampire, thank you.

    3) “Weeping Pustules” Enough said.

  • DebR

    1. The most prominent one looks to me like pachysandra, which is most definitely a vine. It has flowers, but not splashy ones. It’s hard to kill. It is not technically a weed, but it kind of acts like one. Ahem. I agree with Jen that the shiny leaves peaking out look like periwinkle/vinca. It’s a vine too, but it at least has pretty purple-blue flowers in the spring. They will both kill your fern if you let them.

    2. I would be a BuffyVerse vamp. I’d look human until I’m ready to pounce, then I’d vamp out and get all lumpy-headed and fangified.

    3. Moist Protruberances

  • Andrea

    I am new to my house and it’s landscaping as well, but I second/third the Pachysandra. My neighbor told me that I have it in my front yard in the Midwest.

    You used my least favorite word in your post: MOIST. Ick. My BFF will even humor me by saying “Mmm..this cake is so good. It’s nice and…damp!” LOL

  • Wanda

    But Miss Absolved because I was writing a book and cleaning the toilet (cough cough), are you not aware that “succulent cactus” is a whole family of plants in the desert that can save your life by providing nourishment and hydration? Are you not aware that these cacti are referred to as “succulents” by some non-creepy circles of scholars?

    At least, this is what I learned in science class and that crazy book my mother made me read before we moved from one corner of desert to another.

    Main snide comment over.

    Question 1. Check that against vinca. I’m not good at identifying vinca from pictures, but if it is, the flowers are beautiful. Pull the ones closest to the fern and cross fingers.

    Question 2. I would be a vampire that loves nuts, especially almonds. And background music at all times, preferably piano music with the occasional duet, and maybe the odd acapella chorale thrown in. And I’d always have a paint brush in my hand. I’m not saying I’d be good with it, but I’d have it in my hand when not eating nuts, especially almonds.

    Question 3. The 2nd most vile sounding phrase in English has got to be effervescent fungus. (check spelling on effervescent as I try not to use this word, especially in front of the words mold or fungus).

  • Wanda

    Oh, and don’t forget the phrase “oozing pus”

  • Brigitte

    Clammy Clowns. Though you have to pronounce the “cl” in a special, icky way to make it extra-gross.

    I’d be the vampire who stays buried for 10 years or so, then comes out an uncontrollable, ravening, berserker-fiend.

  • Pachysandra is your friend and plays nicely. Stays green, doesn’t vine UP – just out and about, and all it can really do is get too thick – then you pull some up and share or move to a bare spot. I had it everywhere in Ohio and miss it here in GA – glad to know it made the trip. I’d move the fern…that would be easier. The whole vampire thing eludes me, but if I had to be one, it would definitely be one filled with ennui…the sleeping in the casket part appeals and there would be NO PROBLEM avoiding the daylight. Too early to put TWO whole words together, but “secretions” kinda gives me the heeby jeebies no matter the context.

  • Tracey

    Hmm. Cannot help with the plant…it seems you already have plenty of help there. I would be a creepy vampire. Creepy/scary. Vampires should NOT sparkle. My least favorite word is machismo….so perhaps an icky combo would be molting machismo? I dunno about the combo…but I find machismo to be icky.

  • Laurie Sula

    My co-worker, who is a certified Master Gardener, says it is pachysandra. You can always call your local Extension office and get free advice from them. Usually they will have an Ag Educator or Master Gardener who can answer your questions about weird bugs and plants.

    I’m having a hard time deciding which is ickier – oozing pus or weeping pustules. Personally, what grosses me out is when someone has a giant pimple on their face and they don’t pop it. GET RID OF THAT THING – NO ONE WANTS TO SEE IT! Maybe I should have been a dermatologist instead of a 4-H Educator….

  • Julie in Colorado (was Austin)

    I don’t know Jack about plants so I can’t help you there, and I dislike vampire everything, BUT I have a word that should be illegal for writers to use in books: murmur, or murmured. Romance writers use this a lot and I hate it!

  • 1) Can’t weigh in on the landscaping, I outsource that nonsense.
    2) Definitely the sexy-cool kind who broods, smokes, writes poetry, and kills people; but you won’t mind that I kill them, it seems okay somehow.
    3) Luscious lips — it just feels ready to mold around something, slime it all-up, and then suck the air out of it.

    Great post. Had me actually laughing. Audibly.

  • Perhaps the weirdest sounding and creepiest actual two-word phrase: Abnormal Genitalia.

    Eewww. I do not want to say it or see it.

  • Sara

    Definitely pachysandra. Hubby persuaded me to put some in three years ago on the virtue of its pretty white flowers, which, by the way, never happen!

  • 1: The plant experts have spoken. I defer to them.
    2: I would be a Lestat type vampire. I like the whole zero brooding thing he does and how he just IS until he decides to be a ROCK STAR and drink from “Those who must be kept” so that he can FLY! Or maybe, Armand because he has that whole dark, brooding, snobby French thing happening. Mainly, I wouldn’t wanna BE a vampire at all. They are almost universally described as cold, and I am, for reals!, allergic to the cold. Reading about hugging a cold vampire just makes me itchy. Bleh
    3: STYROFOAM. It’s a compound word because I say so, so it counts. I don’t like it! I don’t like saying it or writing it or typing it and I MOST ESPECIALLY HATE touching it or hearing it. It has a sound that makes my skin hurt, my gorge rise and my ears bleed (okay they don’t ACTUALLY bleed, but it feels like they should be).

  • Kirsten Winkel

    I have no idea about the plant, having a brown thumb myself. But it seems like you have some good responses.
    I am a vampire of sorts already, since I work all night and sleep all day. My skin is too pale for someone who lives in FL, and bright lights (like the sun) hurt my eyes.
    Just one word, determined in elementary school also, by my sister and me. The thing itself doesn’t matter, just the sound of the word is stomach-turning. Globule.

  • Aimee

    1. Apparently it’s pachysandra. ALL of those smart people cannot be wrong.
    2. I would be a really wretched vampire, I think, because the thought of drinking blood makes me gag. I would LIKE to think that I would find some sort of Khaleesi-toughness that would allow me to guzzle with gusto, but I doubt it. I’d be the sort of vampire who tries to get by on rare steak.
    3. I don’t know if I have two words, but the word ‘unctuous’ makes me want to run away. Blech.

  • Barbara

    I’m also thinking the plant looks like pachysandra. Which is technically a groundcover so the little vines will scoot across the ground. It won’t grow up tall and strangle you in your sleep. But – the wisteria might so keep an eye on it. If I had to be a vampire (hate anything that has to do with blood) I would be one that lived in Collinsport since I loved to run through the back door everyday after school in time to watch Dark Shadows. The whole place was so mysterious and full of intrigue!. And – I hate the word mucous. Yick. Succulents however remind me of cacti and they’re okay in my book.

  • 1. already covered.
    2. I’d be the cool, willowy vampire draped seductively across a fainting couch or a chaise lounge. And smoking. Because, if you’re already dead, why not?
    3. gynecological speculum. Ew.

  • OK if you were coming up with these words as a fifth grader, no wonder you are doing what you do now. And I love Gillian Flynn’s obsession with the word “oily” as in “oily stain” or “oily smear”. It just conjures nastiness. As for the vines, I am a wino in the highest order, so one would assume I love my vines. But I do the yard work, and the vines have threatened me and my family’s well-being. Death threats. They are cold-blooded killers, and I hate them.

  • allison noakes

    What is with Mr Husband. We had a wisteria vine on our chain link fence all growing up and it never once threatened to eat our house. It just twirled around the fence looking like grapes and smelling fabulous. Tell him to STAY AWAY from Maisy’s bestest vine!

  • Lulu

    I heartily second Laurie Sula’s suggestion to check with your local Extension office – on anything bug- or plant-related. Your U of GA is a Land Grant University, so it has Extension: http://extension.uga.edu/
    (Everyone used to call it the “Cooperative Extension Service” but now we are no longer cooperative or a service, apparently, as we* are just “Extension.”)
    (*I am w/Extension at a diff. university, 2 time zones away…)

    UGA also has a great database of plants and plant pests with a horrifabulous name: bugwood.org.
    And Bugwood.org says you have pachysandra: http://www.forestryimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=5471453

    2nd worst 2-word phrase? “dry county” or maybe “moldy wieners.” I’m not sure.

  • I LOVE wisteria, and honeysuckle, and I’m wondering if vines are a Southern thing. We are a viney kinda place what with the blackberries and muscadines (this spell check does not recognize muscadines–that is offensive.)

    All of the gross, disgusting words and phrases in the comments are just that–but the word I hate THE MOST is “rigor.” It became a part of the educational lexicon about five years back, and the district I WAS in had quit bandying it about (at least in conversation) so much, but the NEW district is ALL. About. The Rigor. Rigor should only EVER be followed by mortis and that is never good.

  • Jess H

    Grossest two word phrase – “moist panties”
    I once attended a party where quite a lot of beer was ponged and we discussed this very topic and that is what we came up with collectively.

  • Jessica (the celt)

    Jess H, that is hilarious! Those were the very words I was going to write. I don’t have an issue with “moist,” although I know some that do, but paired with “panties”? Ick. (I do hate the word “panties,” though. I wear underwear, thank you very much. I am very sensible, as you can tell. My underwear might not always be, but I am. And they are not panties.)

  • Cyndi

    I was coming to say exactly what Jess said. They are each HORRIBLE on their own, but “moist panties” together undoubtedly is the most repulsive phrase ever. The plant is definitely pachysandra, as my husband can attest. His first job was as a groundskeeper at an apartment complex, and in the name of weeding he pulled up many of their intentionally-planted pachysandra plants.

  • Totally grossed out by Jess H’s suggestion, I can’t even bring myself to type it, but I will jump on board with proclaiming it the most heinous two word phrase — yuck.

    As for the plant, my botanical lexicon is very succinct — it’s not poison ivy, aloe, rosemary or kudzu, so I would defer to the consensus of the rest of the group.

    My vampire persona would involve a cobweb covered mansion with a musty study and at least one swinging bookcase. Preferably I would like to be a funny vampire who might could star in a Young Frankenstein sequel, but only if Gene Wilder could be revived in his role, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it.

  • Stacie

    I think you got your plant question answered 🙂
    I would be the kind of vampire that, once turned, would revert back to the most in-shape, non-stretch-mark having, most beautiful time in my life. (multiplied by ten, just for good measure)
    Grossest two words??? Festering Orifice

  • jeanette in peculiar

    Plant question answered.

    I have ZERO working knowledge of vampires, so I guess I would be a VICTIM??

    Gross two-work phrases? Any and all of them used on the commercials for toilet paper/wipes for grown-ups. Do we really need a television commercial to know that we need to use toilet paper? Fouled out by the cartoon bears with bits ‘o toilet paper stuck to their cartoon butts. And just the suggestion that we can “judge our kids growth by how well they wipe”….. Ewwww. What ever happened to the good old fashioned mark on the door frame with the date written next to it to “judge their growth”? (OOhhhh, i feel a rant coming on….) AND WHY oh WHY is there that gross gross gross commercial for Mucinex with the big green phlegmy mucousy “people” who are supposedly living inside of me?

  • Linda J

    Well it looks like you’ve got the plant thing covered. I don’t really do the vampire thing but as for the worst two words… insufficient funds. Enough said?


    Okay, all the two-word phrases are kind of heinous, really. But for me right now that wins. ::shudder::

    I was always fond of “luculent perspicacity” for best two-word phrase, but I can’t bear to think of additional gross ones. 😉

  • Frances in England

    I’m with Jess H’s suggestion. Ye-uch.

    Plant ID seems to be covered, but I just wanted to say I think it is pretty.

    As for vampires, I prefer the BuffyVerse but they tend to get frosted rather quickly. Can I be Willow instead?

  • I scrolled down because it turns out I missed the Wrongsomnia post, and comments on it are closed now, and maybe this got discussed. Didn’t you have Wrongsomnia at least once before? I feel like I remember you blogging about it before. Don’t suppose it either 1) coincides with book process (lordy), or 2) you remember what was happening that last time you had it? Or I could be making it all up. I have the opposite problem; I sleep for eight hours but wake up feeling like I’ve been put through a wringer thanks to all the clenching, tensing, and grinding I do whilst asleep. NOT RESTFUL.

  • Beth

    I have not commented in a very long time (I may no longer be a best beloved! oh noes!) but I was going to comment to say “moist panties!” You may have a winner. Also, I have a fourth grader and she and her friends INDEPENDENTLY decided that THAT was the worst, grossest phrase of all! Generation after generation HATES moist panties. Ew. Double ew.

  • JMixx

    1. Apparently plant is already identified. I only address question 1 to point out that, on the wikipedia page, it is referred to as a “subshrub.” LOVE that word! It’s a shrub that cruises around unnoticed underneath all the other greenery, until it starts torpedo-ing. Maybe “pachysandra” is the sound its torpedoes make, launching through the underbrush.

    2. The sexy kind. In a long black dress cut down-to-THERE and up-to-THERE, the kind that tapers at the knee then flares out at the floor. Very Tish Addams. With perfect red lips and deceptively delicate-looking fangs.

    3. Bilious vomit. *urk*

  • Les in az

    He guffawed. *i hate hate hate the word guffaw*

    I’d like to be a cross between Kate beckinsale and a twilight vamp 🙂 I just want to be a hot ass kicker!

    Sorry I cant identify it…we don’t have those in the southwest!

  • Stephanie

    Mucous Membrane. Either one alone gives me a heebie or a jeebie. Combined they are absolutely revolting.