Vicious, vibrant bougainvillea

Vicious, vibrant bougainvillea

JUST as there are bedroom eyes, so there are garden hands.

Like mine, which show that being a dab hand in the plot is not a good look from every angle.

It’s been a biting, scratching, poking, lancing and itching time among the plants here lately, so the damage is multiple and varied.

My hands are a casualty map of garden mishaps, bearing a line of attack that records assaults old and fresh and blood shed in the line of horticultural duty.

Tick terror

Tick terror

There are puncture marks from the needle-tips of the variegated agave hedge I have been trying to thin out.  A bloody and painful exercise and in retrospect,  I should not have planted out the babies of the fertile mother plant, which in three years have grown to my height ( 165cm ) and brandish spreading arms with lethal weapons.

Needle-tipped agaves

Needle-tipped agaves

Scabs and gashes from scratches while pruning the bougainvilleas and weeding around the roses dot my fingers, wrists and forearms and there’s bark missing from knuckles scraped tackling overgrowth on the barbed wire fence line. And those pesky little leaf barbs on the vines climbing the paperbarks that line the creek have done a job on me too, leaving a stinging red angry rash. My sweet little crown of thorns euphorbia has a bite, too, if not handled carefully, I have learnt painfully and well.

Even the benign, low-maintenance bromeliads, have made their mark, thanks to the sawtooth edge leaf of some  lurking in the throng as I, unsuspecting, poked my fingers into their throats to clear leaf debris overload.

Meat ant

Meat ant

Crown of thorns euphorbia

Crown of thorns euphorbia

Spikey dyckia agave

Spikey dyckia agave

And along the way, an ant, spider or a centipede had a nip of me, leaving a finger lump or two to negotiate my rings around and my cuticles ingrained with grass and soil stain that scrubbing and exfoliating can’t shift. And spring means a fever of  those little bloodsuckers that drop on you from on high and off just about anything that has leaves – ticks. No man or beast is safe from their attack and I have had more than a few attach already this season.

The midges and mosquitoes have supped well on me in late afternoons and the determined  flowering lantana with its rasping sandpaper stems I slash and burn, is retaliating by rubbing angry marks on all exposed limbs.

And don’t start me on my sorry flesh-slicing stories of mishandled secateurs, pruning saws, grass shears and star pickets.

Wounding lantana

Wounding lantana

It’s relatively trivial collateral damage, hardly noticed when I am happily ensconced  among  the trees and shrubs. But scrubbed for dressier pursuits, I look like the walking wounded, a gashed, slashed glaring advertisement for garden gloves and antiseptic.

I own several pairs of  the flowery cotton girly gloves and the heavy duty variety made of stiff industrial-strength canvas,  but  like many gardeners, I often venture outside to “just pull out a weed or two” and who can properly grasp dainty shoots except with bare hands?  Two hours later, sucked into serious, back bending and perspiring toil,  the damage is done.

I keep my tetanus shots up to date , but it  doesn’t stop me from looking wistfully at neatly manicured gardener’s hands and blemish free arms and wonder if their owners have paid help.  But it did cause me to inspect more closely a couple of garden products I came across lately .

Armed for gardening

Armed for gardening

The light and pliable protective sleeves, gloves  and associated apparel available at various garden product websites might save me from permanent scarring.

And a group of Californian university researchers have developed a way to keep pesky mosquitoes away, with a patch that makes humans invisible to the pests.  

Mosquito deterrent patch

Mosquito deterrent patch
Mosquito patch test

Mosquito patch test

I am sure many tropical zone dwellers would want to be patched through to them, suffering the dusk onslaught of mossies in summer.

Surveying your hard work across a perfumed, pruned and preened landscape makes up for all the pain, but one thing’s for sure.

Real gardening is not for pussies.

7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    chrissienick said,

    Oh dear – you make me happy that I am in my air conditioned office with only a Spathiphyllum to nurture. Mind you, paper cuts can be extremely excrutiating!

  2. 3

    Lovely first two pars Julie 😉 . And the rest of the post is good too.

    • 4

      Thanks Richard. Nice to have your erudite eye cast over it with approval. What bugs and brutality do you battle in gardens in Bali?

      • 5

        We use an LBUU in the garden, same as in the house. (I’ll PM you if you want the acronym spelled out). Don’t quite know what lives outside, except dengue mosquitoes and very large hornets. But we use citronella oil (in a water bowl) indoors (one morning / one night) and that seems to keep the nasties away 🙂 Oh, except for the red ants, which are very feisty.

      • 6

        Thanks Richard, yes I would like that acronym extrapolated, please …. and those red ants sound vicious. Best you stay indoors and live a life of the mind.

  3. 7

    Mel Harvey said,

    Will be definitely getting some of those mozzie patches when they
    become available. Great info Julie.

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