The Battered Gardener

A garden or a yard under control is not a hazardous place unless one is mugged by a bee or waylaid by well-dressed young men wanting to talk about religion-

Not so in an overgrown garden that needs clippers , shovels, and pruning saws.

There, one trips on Virginia Creeper vines, slips in mud just freed from weeds, almost falls off a stone wall.
Yesterday my first mishap was grabbing a shovel that shot a 3/4 inch sliver into my finger. Had I not had a safety pin and a Toyota Tundra as a field hospital, I might have had to drive home 10 miles. I dug the splinter out,stopped the bleeding with a reusable cloth Publix bag, then went back to work.

One of my projects was cleaning out suckers and disengaging a creeping euonymous  from the base of a 20 foot multi-trunked crape myrtle. Nothing should ever mar or obscure the bark of this shrub.

I took my clippers to the vine, and discovered it was the Homeplace of a nest of angry little biting ants who had lived secure until I arrived. I crushed the ones who bit me . The others retreated after I dug out their nest with the pruning saw.

Task complete, I went to trim the iris border. I was safe there, since Iris are pacifists.

Done there, I looked at the Nandinas hugging the house foundation. They were smothering a small shrub with shiny foliage. The shrub had an expensive look, so I cut the nandina  back. I grabbed a branch of the little shrub to protect it, and it speared me with one inch thorns. The owner told me it was a barberry. She wants it moved this fall.

I am philosophical about this. Everyday I go home with streams of dried blood on my arms. And there will be more. I have old dead canes of 3 or 4 Hybrid Musk roses I must deal with soon,as well as a New Dawn climbing rose on the side of the house.

I am safe today since I did not go to the rental house garden because of the rain. Poison Ivy is the hazard there. I have several patches on my arm. I treat it by giving it a good scratch, then I daub it with bleach. If it still bothers me I add Calamine lotion. If that does not work, I ignore it.

The stone wall I am liberating there is covered with the ivy, and the owner warned me about snakes.

I am not afraid of most snakes. A garter snake bit me once, and down at the Gulf I have been within a few feet of the Eastern Diamondback Rattler. Even though my snake field guide says it is the most dangerous snake in North America, both times I saw it it was sliding away.

The only snake I fear is the Cottonmouth, and I will not trip over it in any Nashville garden. It is a snake that cedes no ground. It does not run away. It slides toward you and makes you smash your head scrambling to get back into the truck- I know this from experience.

And have I mentioned ticks and chiggers? No. and I will not today, though 6 weeks ago a tick gave me a bull’s eye rash and forced me to take tetracycline for a few weeks-

Restoring gardens is dangerous.


About talesofanashvillegardener

Professional gardener, Experimental Cook. Constant Reader
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