Not long ago I was walking in my neighborhood
when I noticed a ground cover plant that has been a favorite of mine for using in container gardens. I love its variegated leaf and that it fills out nicely, as well as growing long cascading vines, over the summer. When I lived in Michigan I would over-winter it in my garden to have for my containers from year to year. One year it grew like crazy over the winter and I discovered that my container vine was also a fabulous ground cover.
This spring I had been looking for it in all the local greenhouses and garden shops. I guess it’s been replaced by newer versions…probably versions that are not so virulent. You can imagine how elated I was to discover it growing in the gardens of two homes just a few blocks away from my new home. I planned to ask the homeowners if I could get a few slips of it to use in a container and to plant in a very shady corner of my yard. But, I was concerned as I saw a plant I didn’t know amidst the ground cover and wondered if it was something akin to poison ivy. My husband assured me it was NOT Poison Ivy. The plant of my concern had 5 leaves, not three.
No, I haven’t gotten around to connecting with the Lamiatrum’s homeowners. What I did do, was work in my own yard – taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Before we moved in, our yard had been previously mowed, but the gardens – if you could call the weedy corners, gardens – were left untended. Our yard is surrounded by the dreaded chain link fence. Behind the fence is an access area filled with grass and weeds and trees. That area also needed to be tended. Needless to say, I’ve been doing lots of weeding. I’ve lost count of the bags and bags of weeds I’ve pulled. We have a few Forsythia bushes that are growing on the fence line. One day I reduced the size of the hugely sprawling Forsythia to a quarter of its original size.
Some days later, I assisted Tim in cutting down a Tree of Heaven and two Mulberry Trees. One Mulberry Tree was actually growing through the chain link fence. And then we trimmed countless branches of a very full and low-growing Crab Apple tree growing a foot or two outside the fence in the access area. By the time we finished that day, I had carried to the street a pile of brush that was nearly as high as I am tall. We were starting to feel like we might have a glimmer of hope for this shabby yard.
These projects were being accomplished in between creating decor for our church’s upcoming Vacation Bible School. As the marathon of hours began to complete the National Park theme for VBS I noticed that I had a few strange bug bites. Tim thought that the day I ambitiously painted the laundry closet, while the washer and dryer were out due to the construction work on our drains, I must have gotten some spider bites.
Those bites grew large and ugly. And more appeared. Was I getting bit at night while I slept? Those bites continued to grow in size and became itchy. I ignored them the best I could. I commented to one of my fellow artists about the bites and she said, “Diane, I hate to tell you this…but I think you have Poison Ivy.”
Seriously, Poison Ivy?! I didn’t see any of those three-leaved offenders in my yard or in the access area behind my fence. Remember, it was a concern of mine just a few weeks previous when I spotted my beloved ground cover. (Keep in mind…you might think “my” ground cover is a menace. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.) Was that concern a portend for what was to come?
Now on the mend from what evidently was a series of contacts made with some invisible Poison Ivy, I must overcome a fear of working in my yard. I certainly don’t want to go through this again. So many sleepless nights. Not to mention how very ugly my arms and legs appeared with these huge sores. One thing I know for sure. After VBS is over and I have time to “play” in the yard again, I will download photographs of Poison Ivy. I will mount those photos in lovely decorative frames and I will study those photos before stepping out to “play” in my yard.
Never again do I want to dance with such an insidious and, to me, invisible plant.
Have you had a recent encounter with the dreaded Poison Ivy?
Isn’t it odd that I had such a concern about Poison Ivy and yet with my heightened concern, NEVER saw it in my own yard?
Here’s a photo of the dreaded plant.
Study it closely.
Don’t tangle with the dreaded Poison Ivy!
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