Thursday, July 27, 2006

This morning's lesson

You know there's something to be learned from the garden, even when we don't want to learn it.

Take this morning (I wish you had).

Ed (Norton) my virus checker told me with some alarm that my system had been penetrated by a bad guy but he had taken care of it (almost). He recommended I take a bunch more steps though to ensure my system was really clean. So I did all those steps, learning more about Win XP than I ever wanted to know. 2.5 hours later I got back to work - thanks Ed.

But in the meantime, knowing the last step - a full system scan - would take some time, I wandered out to the garden to move some gravel, some mulch and do a little weeding.

The gravel went well. One or two more loads and the pathway to the water will be mowable and easy to walk on.

The mulching went well. A few more square feet of perennial gardens will never see a weed infestation again.

The weeding was an education. Somewhere in a rather large clump of straggly weeds at the back of the garden - underneath a lilac branch - lay a bandit. When I grabbed hold of a great clump of wood sorrel, it bit me.

And this stinging nettle bit me really hard. My hand lit up - I said a few rather ungardener type of words that are not fit for a family blog and jumped to my feet.

Damn! That stuff really stings!

I remembered though there was some jewelweed (Impatiens capensis is the variety I think I have) down by the waterfront and as I knew it was recommended for poison ivy, I thought I'd give it a try on the nettle. It was either that or suffer this burning for a good hour or more.

I wadded up a goodly ball of the topmost leaves from one of the clumps and started squeezing out the juice while rubbing it on my hand. The hand turned green (I can honestly say this morning I had a green thumb) but within a few seconds the lesser stinging parts had stopped and within 30 seconds, the entire burning sensation was gone.

After both my hand and my sense of calm established themselves again, I went to the office bookshelf. 'A Modern Herbal' by Mrs. Greive, my shelf reference book on herbal medicine, says it has a calming effect on skin problems but not to eat the stuff. Well, that was fine, I wasn't in the mood for a cup of tea - I just wanted my hand to stop stinging.

A further check on the Net did turn up one reference to jewelweed and stinging nettle and they recommended it. So do I now.

So while I wasn't looking to learn something that dramatic this morning, I certainly did. Stinging nettle is a weedy snake-in-the-grass while Jewelweed is indeed a jewel.


At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Juanita said...

Maybe it was just my imagination but as a kid I discovered that hot water run on the 'nettled' spot diminished the blistering.
There was a lot of what we called stinging nettle along the Yukon River where I grew up.

At 2:55 PM, Anonymous lorra said...

I saw my first Jewelweed about 2 years ago at the old house. I researched and finally found out it's name and the poison ivy part. It also said that almost anywhere there is poison ivy there will be Jewelweed nearby. I was so excited about it and, after much web searching, ordered some plants. I knew just where I wanted to put them. In the park behind me. Well ... when I looked at the location closer –wal-la -- the whole area was covered with Jewelweed! I had only been going to this park for over 25 years!
One should stop to smell more than just the roses.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Jenn said...

Have you been reading Kenny's page?

You can harvest and eat the nettles. They are said to be good for you!

At 6:03 PM, Blogger lisa said...

I was reading in an herbal magazine about eating nettles, and that you can use them (the sting) to treat arthritis. I don't know how effective this is, but I bet after a few minutes of stinging, you'll welcome the pain instead! : )


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