Lucifer stands proud in my garden - that tall, very bright red 'Crocosmia'.
Before Lucifer became a by-word for Satan it was the name of the morning star, Venus, shining bright and clear at dawn. That is what Lucifer, the plant, does so well, brightens the mornings, and the afternoons and the evenings. Perhaps especially the evenings when it glows in the dusk.
Lucifer has spread around my garden and has travelled into many other gardens I know. It is so easy, so dramatic, such a joy to pass on to friends and neighbours.
A large part of the pleasure of gardening is to pass things on, to share favourite plants, to exchange a bowl of loganberries for a bowl of blackcurrants. So Lucifer appears, shining brightly in a garden down the road, across the road and over the hill.
I hope I have not be-devilled my neighbours' gardens.
It seems sad that the name of Lucifer, originally something shining and beautiful, should now be generally recognised as devilish.
There are many plants more directly named after Satan, many of them poisonous, barbed, threatening, bright red, horned, long-tongued or otherwise weird. Poor old Crocosmia Lucifer only got the name by being bright red.
Creeping Devil is apparently weird. It's a cactus that lies flat on the sandy ground of the Arizona desert and creeps like a caterpillar, dying at its rear end, growing forward from the front. Weird, but also practical because a cylinder on its side gets more light than one standing upright, and the Creeping Devil is basically a horizontal cylinder.
Devil's Beggar Tick is a nuisance, an irritant, having hooked seeds which attach themselves firmly into clothing, preferably socks. But also clever, because it uses animals and people to distribute seeds well away from the parent plant.
The Devils Walking Stick has very sharp thorns. It is related to Ginseng, and apparently (do not try this at home) a paste made of its poisonous seeds will kill head lice.
Devil's weed, of the Datura family has dangerously poisonous fruits. Devil's Ivy, an attractive houseplant is altogether poisonous, as is the Devil's Backbone, which is related to Jacob's Ladder.
Devil's Tongue is a name for both an very hot pepper and the Snake Palm tree, which grows with a trunk as sinuous as the serpent in the garden of Eden. We don't understand why these plants need to create strong poisons in their systems, or grow in convoluted form or generate such heat in their fruits that they can take the skin off your mouth, but there will be very sound and sensible reasons if we could but find a key to them.
Here are the seed-pods of Devil's Claw from South Africa. Well, you can see the fingernails, can't you? Obviously devilish, but also useful as an anti-inflammatory and a help to those with arthritis, so not all bad. Imported, ground into pill form and sold by those promoting natural health cures, so not very Satanic after all.
Can any plants be all bad?
Some are poisonous, some are potentially dangerous, but that is undoubtedly because we do not have the knowledge to understand their properties and powers. There is so much we do not know - isn't it wonderful?
So I drink my early morning cuppa and admire Lucifer, the morning star, shining clear and bright and vividly red on even a dull damp morning.
And on a personal note, the roubles did not get squandered in Southern Russia. The paperwork failed us at the last moment. The passport has been nowhere in the last weeks. At some stage I will saunter beside the Black Sea in my gauzy dresses (probably not from November onwards though!).