No poison in colorful poinsettia plant
I usually get a poinsettia every year but this year I may not. I
have a one year old who puts everything she finds into her mouth,
and I've heard poinsettias are poisonous. Is that true?
Not true. The American Medical Association's "Handbook of
Poisonous and Injurious Plants" reports that "...poinsettia
(Euphorbia pulcherrima) has been found to produce either
no effect (orally or topically) or occasional cases of vomiting.
This plant does not contain irritant terpitenes."
You must be a really tough gal, being able to brave
gardening in December down to 40 below (as per your recent
article). I laughed out loud, hoping you will also when you see the
I was puzzled, then annoyed, when I saw in my December 6 column,
"December is a gardening month for me... I choose forty below
degree days without wind..." That word, "below," hadn't been in my
original. It appeared somehow during the editing process.
Then I read notes from you and others and I did laugh. My thanks
to those like S.M. who chuckled, "I can't resist this... I think
you need more clothes than you said you wear, to work out there at
40 below!" And a thumbs up to C.N. "I expected you to go on
to say you were aiming to create some additional winter interest in
your garden, a life-size ice statue of a gardener."
Years ago you gave a talk that I enjoyed very much. I
don't remember many details, but I do recall that when someone
questioned your advice to cut a particular shrub at a certain time
you said, "Sure, there is probably a best time to cut that shrub,
but what good is knowing the ideal if you're not out there then or
need to cut it now? Just go ahead and cut it when you can. It'll be
okay." That really gave me a different outlook on gardening. I just
wanted to say thanks.
Thank you! As an instructor and how-to writer, I like to know
what it is I've said or written that sticks with people, so I can
phrase more of my talks and articles that same way.
Your note prompted me to ask other instructors what they have
heard along the same lines as what you just wrote to me.
Judy Jacobs, Gardening Coach and Instructor of Apprentices, said
she's heard this, "I'm so glad you told me that if it worked,
whatever it is, I should do it again!
Julia Dingle, container garden specialist and owner of The
Classic Garden, reports that her students say, "I love to know that
I can keep something in my outdoor containers pretty much all year
and even do things like dig up a bleeding heart from the garden in
early April, put it into my pot, watch it bloom, then move it out
again to make way for the next thing."
Nancy Perry, specialist in organic growing and kids' gardening,
says she's gotten thanks for telling people that blue-blooming
hydrangeas are not reliably bud hardy in Michigan -- they may grow
but they might not bloom.
Your interest led me to 30 remarkable bits of advice, too many
to report in one setting. I'll include them here over the next few
weeks, to capture the wealth of one year as we move into the
Green thumbs up
to the season of rest in the garden. Ancient lore says that in
this season all the creative energy in the cosmos has flown back
into the earth to renew itself for next spring. Do likewise and
relax. Your garden was beautiful and productive in 2003 and it will
be even more so in 2004!
Green thumbs down
to overdoing those holiday plants. Your family is just beginning
to get reacquainted with you now that you can't disappear into your
garden every day. So restrict yourself to just one poinsettia,
Christmas pepper, azalea, amaryllis, paperwhite or holiday cactus
-- not one of everything!
Originally published 12/20/03