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Report From PIA – June 20

I am more than half way through my commitment to post a daily Report From Poison Ivy Acres.  Many of my daily readers have requested that I continue to write a daily blog, and although I’m not promising, the willingness and inclination is there.

Walking around the garden today, preparing for visitors both tomorrow and next week, I came across some random Rhus radicans plants that I dug up and tossed into the woods on the edges of the property. This started me thinking about why I call the place Poison Ivy Acres.

Poison ivy, Rhus radicans, is a mostly fantastic plant. It grows in sun or shade, can climb any other plant or structure or lacking something to scramble up, it will become a ground cover. This plant has bright green foliage that looks crisp and fresh all summer and then turns bright red in the fall. The birds enjoy eating the berries on this native plant, and it’s drought tolerant as well.

Everything a gardener can love except for this one small quality… those oils that give most of us a painful, itchy rash. So why name a property after a plant that most of us love to hate?

Admittedly, Poison Ivy Acres is, perhaps, more memorable than many of the other, more expected, titles I could have bestowed on this land. Lawrence Pond Gardens would be accurate, if boring, and naming the property after any of the other plants that abound exclude something else, after all. Hydrangea Acres leaves out the perennials and vegetables, and Willow Walk does the same even though I have an assortment of Salix along the path to the lake.

No, I like Poison Ivy Acres, because it is true to life. We live in a world that contains the desired and the repulsive… the functional, the beautiful and the annoying. While as a human on the planet, and a gardener, I work to cultivate what is beautiful, I also need to cope with the unwanted and itchy.

So this is interesting: I went to my photo files to find a picture of poison ivy to illustrate this post, and couldn't come up with one. Yes, I know that I've taken a shot or two in the time we've lived here, but clearly not enough to easily find the image when I want one. I tend to point my camera on what is attractive, not on the weeds. This says something about how we live our lives... we'd rather concentrate on what we want to see rather than what is. Reminder to self: take more Rhus radicans shots... I've got enough subjects to choose from, I just have to remember to take the picture before digging up the plant.

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