This past week, I was in the garden clearing out an area to create more space for perennial edible foods and more pollinator friendly plants. I was not paying attention to where I was working and not wearing appropriate weeding clothes. I got poison ivy! Yep, I let my garden area run a bit wild since I was busy with our front yard native pollinator habitats I was trying to create this summer.
“Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac plants are becoming larger and stronger, a trend that’s been developing over recent years, according to researchers. That may be a combination of the plant’s nature to cause more severe reactions over time and the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a result of global warming.” ( read more here)
I have found that creating habitat in city gardens means attracting birds and inviting nature to your back door. I believe in incorporating native pollinators to our landscape but also need to be reminded we need to keep our beds a bit free of certain “natives” that may cause us issues, for example, rashes! Poison ivy is a native plant. Did you know?
‘Poison ivy is a valuable species in natural communities providing cover and food for wildlife. Though abhorred by most humans, poison ivy can be quite attractive, especially when the glossy green of the foliage yields to yellow, bright orange, and scarlet in the autumn.Poison ivy is native to the eastern United States and Canada growing in open woods and disturbed sites from Nova Scotia to Florida and west to Minnesota and Texas.”( read more here)
Years ago, before I incorporated native plants into our landscape. Our dogs would meander through the back of our city lot and get the “oils” on their skin when they brushed up against it in the garden. I use to cuddle with them as we watched tv and found myself getting it too often. I finally decided to tear out some bushes along the fence, and that was the start of our backyard habitat.
I had to go to our Hospital Express Care and be put on 60mg of Prednisone and antibiotics for a week and a half! Usually, I would just put a drying cream on, and that would be the end of my poison ivy encounter. Well, not anymore. I will never wander in the Garden and not be covered when I see a weed or want to clear out an overgrown bed. NO WAY!!! My arm is all scabbed over right now, and when I went for my daily bike ride, I wore long sleeves. Thank goodness we have had some wonderful cool weather. When people see it, their faces just cringe in all sort of contortions and exclaim-Yuck! I felt like I had leprosy!
I love to attract nature to my yard, and I know birds love the berries produced by the “native rash plants”, my coined term! When we build our native infused gardens; the birds visit. They drop the seeds, and the rest is history.
That’s why, I have been seeing more poison ivy in my garden this year. I usually am very careful but one day you forget to wear your protective clothing when weeding, you pay the price.
I will not give up on native plants or attracting wildlife to my city lot, but I will never be without long sleeves, long pants and gloves when I weed through my garden.The other day when my husband and I weeded, by noon it was unbearable to be in long sleeves and pants out in a garden. Thank goodness the humidity was not 90 percent that morning! It can be a sauna out there in our Illinois humid weather.
Gear up folks when you weed or maybe you are one of the lucky ones that never had it. Trust me you don’t want to get it!