“I believe that I have found, if not original sin, at least vegetable total depravity in my garden.” Charles Dudley Warner, “What I Know about Gardening: Third Week,” 1870
Wearing long sleeves in public is easier than the alternative. People take one look at my arm and gasp, “What happened?!”
Their concern is warranted, the red welt on the inside of one wrist looks like a third-degree burn. It is not, but it’s hard to counter the shock its appearance inspires with, “A leaf touched me.” Even though that is exactly what happened.
It’s true. I’ve become so reactive to poison ivy, that we’ve taken drastic measures. My husband ripped out the section of the garden where poison ivy was most likely to lurk and replaced it with enough mulch to smother everything except — you guessed it — poison ivy.
But, it is now, if not contained, at least visible. With our former garden plan — topsy-turvy cottage style that ran the length of our picket fence — it was not. It snaked through cosmos and lilies and autumn glory like a, well, snake. And, it has bitten me and bitten me, once requiring medical attention my reaction was so severe.
The garden looks different, to be sure. Remaining perennials are separated by areas of mulch. Containers lift annuals up to a height safely above any remaining vines. Some plants, including a veritable field of crocuses, had to die. Even I look different. I’m gardening in long-armed dishwashing gloves these days.
Are such severe measures worth it? Yes!
And, interestingly, it’s a model that applies to the rest of life, as well. An example? I once knew a pastor who, before becoming a Christian, was an alcoholic who played his guitar in bars. When God set him free to leave that life behind, he left the guitar with it. He never played it again, not even for church.
There was nothing sinful about the guitar. But, for him, it was too closely tied to sin. It had to go.
It sounds harsh, but when pure evil is lurking, it is only a matter of time until it destroys. The wise choice is to destroy it first.