Ah, the joys of summer. Lazy days, hammocks under the maple tree, corn on the cob, poison ivy…
Wait. I live in southern Oregon. We have poison oak, not poison ivy. Everyone knows that. Well, everyone except the bird that apparently flew in with a gut full of poison ivy seeds and planted them in the pachysandra.
A while back, I noticed we had some new plant growing in the front side yard, between the mulberry and the cherry. It was pretty and green, and other than a vague idea that I needed to figure out what it was, I didn’t think much of it at the time. Then I got that debilitating crick in my neck I mentioned and wasn’t doing much of anything, particularly gardening, so the pretty green plant grew and spread, looking quite lovely in the shade and filling in a bare patch in the ground cover that needed something anyway.
Then my neck got better and I went out to take a closer look. Leaves of three. Oh, crap. The leaves weren’t shiny, like I remember from summers in Kansas, but I knew. I came in and fired up the laptop just to check.
We’ve got poison ivy, a patch about 10′ x 15′ that bleeds into the pachysandra and the lilies of the valley (also poisonous, btw, but not in quite the same way). I scooted off to buy Tecnu and Marie’s Poison Oak Soap, and then hubby and I geared up for the attack. But the woody root is well buried in the pachysandra and intertwined with those of the mulberry, and it quickly became obvious we were never going to succeed that way. So hubby headed off to the armory (garden store) while I scrubbed the tools with Technu. (Here’s a great site with info on poison ivy, how to recognize it, and what to do about it.)
Thank goodness Steinarr and Marian (IMMORTAL OUTLAW) didn’t have to worry about poison ivy (imagine that scene under the tree at the collier’s camp if they discovered they’d been sitting in the wrong plant!), It’s not native to England, but unfortunately, modern English practitioners of love al fresco have to look before they lie. The plant is so beautiful in the autumn that some fool brought some in to enhance his garden. Somebody, presumably, immune (about 1 in 4 is, although that can change with continued exposure).
The bird that made us a gift of the seeds was likely a downy woodpecker, who loves the creamy white berries. I’ve seen way more woodpeckers in the neighborhood than usual this year, including one I think was a downy. But it could have been anything, because the only beasts NOT immune to poison ivy are primates — like us. So there you go.
Anyway, chemical warfare has been launched. Leaves are beginning to wilt (not to include the mulberry or cherry, we hope). We’ll still have to grub up the roots this fall while wearing exposure suits, but at least we’ll know they’re dead when we do. And then we’ll have to replant. Something pretty and green…and non-toxic.
We’ve avoided rashes so far, but I bet some of you haven’t. Care to share your itchy story? Got pix?