Click the links below to access the full articles:
Problem plants are rarely life threatening even if poison is in their name. Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac, are all found in Tennessee and can induce uncomfortable rashes upon contact. Poison Ivy is the only one of the three commonly found in Blount County. Some people are not affected by poison ivy, but most of us develop itchy responses after a few exposures to the Urishiol oils in the plant. Any part of the plant can provoke the allergic reaction because these oils exist on the surface of the leaves, branches or vines.
Some dangers in the garden come from invading wildflowers and weeds. In Australia they are afflicted with a plant, Dendrocnide moroides, whose touch is "... like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time." In Tennessee we are more likely to encounter Giant Hogweed, a member of the extensive carrot family. Unlike members of the spurge family and poison ivy which mainly cause itchy irritated skin eruptions, members of the carrot family can cause photo dermatitis. Photo dermatitis occurs when skin is damaged by chemicals that are activated by sunlight.
Do you have pets or children who like to wander in your garden? Some plants with medicinal properties can also be toxic to humans or animals. This article discusses common toxic garden plants, and links are provided to lists of plants poisonous to humans and animals.
Avid gardeners are usually nature lovers and nurturing souls. We attempt to bring back damaged and forgotten plants and we feed birds. Gardeners were among the first to call for "saving the pollinators" since many species of bees and other pollinating insects are being disturbed and displaced today. We should take steps to make the home garden a more inclusive oasis. Native plants have become recognized as important plants to foster pollinators in these gardens, but many other plants are worth trying, too.
One of the best things about Springtime in East Tennessee is the multitude of beauty that can be found on any one of the dozens of hiking trails in the Smokies. I recently hiked Porter’s Creek, a hike that is approximately 4 miles roundtrip from the trailhead at Greenbrier Road to Fern Branch Falls and back. There is a lot of history along this trail reminding us of families who settled in this area in the early 1800s, so it’s an interesting trail as well as a fairly easy one to navigate.
An often repeated pearl of wisdom in the gardening world, and one heard nearly every winter, is that a cold snap will "kill all the bugs". Or, conversely, an unseasonably warm winter will mean that the garden will be chewed to bits come the next growing season. I'm sure I am not alone in having gone along with believing that cold winters means no bugs for quite some time. When a good friend asked me if I knew that this bit of folklore was a myth, it surprised me. So, like the doubting Thomas I am, I looked it up.
In early spring, Blount County erupts in clouds of white puffballs. Driveways and roads are lined with drifts of white blossoms and many people feel spring is finally here when they see them. In recent years, the more negative aspects of these ubiquitous trees of springtime snow have become obvious.
Spring is in the air and our gardens are awake and growing. We've had lots of rain to erase all thoughts of last year's drought. We've spent the winter months anticipating warm days and sunny skies, and we can't wait to get out and see all the colorful flowers once again! Garden sales and swaps are now enticing us to add to our collection of green things. So now is a good time to think about what we need and what we should be planting and have a plan before we hit those sales.
For more "Hands in the Dirt" articles, click here