â€œWatch out for the patch of poison ivy near the vegetable garden,â€ said my husband as he wiped his brow with the back of his hand. â€œYou do know what poison ivy looks like, right?â€
â€œLeaves of threeâ€¦let it be,â€ I recited with solemnity. I resisted holding my hand to my heart.
Poison Ivy. Back again. Whyyyyyyyy?
When we bought our home thirteen-years ago, it became quickly obvious the previous owners had had retirement in mind. Very little landscaping had been done other than a token foundation- hugging shrub or two. Although stark, I didnâ€™t mind. I prefer starting with a blank canvas.
We divided the labor as we set forth to personalize the yard. My husband wanted natural, easy, low maintenance. I wanted pretty, with something blooming or interesting to look at each season. We compromised and mostly did it my way.
He was/is the destroyer. He attacks weeds, meandering bramble, and naughty â€œpoke you in the eyeâ€ tree limbs. Iâ€™m the creator. Where my husband has taketh away, I restore-ith with something else.
For instance, we had a nasty, evil, zombie patch of poison ivy growing fairly close to the front door. (It looked dead but â€œlivedâ€ on. And on. And on.) My husband spent two entire summers waging war with those plants, which included a trip or two to the emergency room because he ended up covered in rashes. Really, really, bad rashes. As a past Eagle Scout he thought heâ€™d earned the â€œfree from poison ivy rashes for lifeâ€ badge, but he was wrong. It turns out all that weed wrestling super-sensitized him to the plantâ€™s oils.
After he had seemingly killed off the ivy, I jumped in and began planting hosta and other shade loving plants. Then I mulched the heck out of the area to keep any underground poison ivy roots from getting ideas. I kept a close vigilance. No more emergency room runs on my watch!
Fast forward to 2014. My hosta bed remains poison ivy free, but other areas he had conquered are starting to re-populate with things we donâ€™t want. Poison ivy, wild raspberry bramble, nettle, and thistles. You know, all the plants that hurt you if given a chance. Why is that? Why doesnâ€™t Ma Nature infest us with orchids, jasmine, or soft fluffy plants that make you look ten years younger if their oils get on your skin?
So far this summer Iâ€™ve felt the sting of nettle oil, have been multi-scratched by bramble thorns, and have pulled unreasonably fat thistle barbs out of my fingers. They say a weed is simply a plant growing where you donâ€™t want it. I say weeds are a litmus test for our character. Fight or flight? Iâ€™m no quitter, so this could get ugly.
Not sending my husband to the emergency roomâ€¦yetâ€¦the best part of my day.