Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian


Animal Plants

by Cynthia Brian

Photos and Text © 2022 Cynthia Brian

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” Immanuel Kant

Our family has enjoyed an affinity for the animal kingdom for as long as I can remember. We loved creatures so much that we often named a pet for an animal of another species that they resembled. We’ve had dogs named Bear and Wolf, cats named Panther and Tiger, and even a horse named Spider, although he didn’t look like an arachnid. 

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In the plant world, botanists and taxonomists who name plants also look to the realm of animals using zoographical Latin or Greek-based names for various genera and species. Sometimes a part of the plant will remind them of an animal, or sometimes it is the marketing department of a plant breeder that comes up with the fun, and often humorous name for a new cultivar. 

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I walked through my garden giggling at the numerous “animals” that are growing. Trees, flowers, wildflowers, and even weeds bear the names of creatures. If you are looking for an amusing gardening endeavor to do with children this fall, ask them if they would like to plant an animal garden. Discuss their favorite critters, then research specimens to fit the bill.

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Edit your list grouping plants that will demand the same soil, watering, and sun/shade conditions together in one plot or pot. Mix annuals and perennials for an ongoing animal parade that will last throughout the year. Engage in a creative craft project making nametags for each plant. (Popsicle sticks are traditional favorites) Because the weather is too hot and dry to plant in summer, it’s advised to wait for the cooler days of autumn to start digging a new garden. However, if you want to plant a few species in containers now, let the animal party begin. Make sure to follow directions on the plant tags and water frequently as containers lose moisture quickly.

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Here is a partial list of the excitement to come with animal plants:


Cats Ear 


Coyote Bush

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Buzzard Breath

Duck Salad

Cockle Bur




Turkey Mullein



Prickly Oxtongue

Goose Grass




Swine cress

Birdseye Pearlwort


Fat hen


Elephant Ears








Horse Chestnut

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Leopard’s Bane

Bee Balm

Monkey Grass

Donkey Tail

Butterfly Bush

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Locust Tree


Gopher Plant

Hen and Chicks

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Skunk Plant

Snake plant

Starfish Flower

Zebra plant

Lambs Ears


Bear’s Breeches

Trout Lily

Cardinal Flower

Deer fern

Deer tongue

Pigsqueak (Bergenia)

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Dragon lily





Goats beard

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Lion’s Tail

Lobster Claws

Mouse plant

Ox-eye daisy

Panda wild ginger

Pig butt

Rabbit’s foot fern

Porcupine Agave


Toad lily


Cranesbill geranium

Lion’s Ear


Spider plant


Scorpions tail

Flamingo flower

Kangaroo paw

Bunny Tails

Butterfly weed

Partridge Berry

Fishtail palm

Leopard’s bane

Zebra grass


Squirrel cup

Wake robin

Dinosaur tree

Hedgehog echinacea

Cynthia Brian’s Mid-Month Gardening Tips

ü  SPREAD a blanket on the lawn and look towards the heavens to see animal shapes in the clouds.

ü  DRY herbs by hanging bunches upside down in a dry place, like a garage or shed. Dry lavender, sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano.  Store the dried leaves in a jar.

ü  DOUSE weeds with a concoction of white vinegar and liquid dish soap. To a gallon of the vinegar, add a capful of dish soap, shake in a spray bottle, and use proactively.

ü  GATHER the seeds of fennel and cilantro after the flowers are spent. Dry the seeds on a cooking sheet. Cilantro seeds are called coriander. Both add flavor and texture to both sweet and savory recipes.

ü  PRESERVE flat-leaf parsley, basil, and chives by freezing them in ice cube trays. Put a spoonful of the chopped leaves in each cell, add water, and freeze. When you want a dash of fresh flavor, pop an ice cube.

ü  PLANT edamame and sweet potatoes, both warm-weather crops. The soil needs to be warmer than 60 degrees. Plan on harvesting edamame in 90-100 days when the pods are plump but still green for a heart healthy omega 3 boost. To make potassium-rich sweet potatoes sweeter, store at 90 degrees for two weeks after harvesting, 

ü  DEADHEAD roses, annuals, and perennials as blooms fade to keep them coming through frost.

ü  GROW celery by rooting the base of your store-bought vegetable. Put the stub in a glass jar filled with water in a sunny location, then transplant the root to a container or garden.

ü  HARVEST cucumbers and make an easy spicy summer snack as well as a soothing eye pack. Peel, slice, add red onions, rice vinegar, and marinate for one hour in the refrigerator. Save the peels to place on your eyes to eliminate puffiness after swimming.

ü  WATCH butterflies pollinate your flowers as they flutter from blossom to blossom on monarda, tithonia, sunflowers, zinnias, butterfly bush, cosmos, alyssum, marigolds, thyme, oregano, and marjoram.

ü  EXTEND your garden’s production with a second season planting of beets, scallions, kohlrabi, chard, broccoli, lettuce, peas, and carrots to carry your fresh offerings into late fall.

ü  TOSS a salad comprised of edible herbs, tender leaves, and fruit from your garden including basil, sage, thyme, lovage, fennel, arugula, spinach, chives, chard, tarragon, kale, beet tops, lettuce, cilantro, parsley, sorrel, apples, and plums dressed with lemon juice and olive oil for a tasty jolt of mineral rich nutrition.

ü  SHARE your excess vegetable and fruit harvest with the neighborhood and take the extras to the local food bank for those in need to savor.

Treat your animal plants with care. 

Amuse yourself, your family, and your friends with your garden barnyard!

Photos and more:

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at


Buy copies of her books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

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