Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pears O' Plenty

I work with a guy that owns an orchard with a variety of fruits: apples, cherries, plums, and pears, just to name a few. He has had his pear trees for five years and they have yet to produce. The "Luscious" pear tree pictured here has been at our house two years, was transplanted this spring to make room for the rain garden, and it has no partner tree; yet it is covered in pears. I have actually already taken off over two dozen pears just to keep this tree from over working itself and there are still this many pears left! We had gotten four pears from this tree last year and they were the best pears that I have ever eaten. I can't wait until these ripen.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Did You Doubt Me?


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Beauty and the Beast

I love my gas plant. I got it a couple of years ago and have been so smitten with the citrusy smell of the foliage, the compact and neat form of the plant, as well as the beautiful, long-lasting flower display starting sometime around Memorial Day as most of my tulips are fading away.

And I have been reading many posts from other gardeners who have discovered this most awesome plant. Many may even know why it is called a gas plant. The plant emits a flammable vapor; which on calm days, it is said, can actually be lit. It burns a beautiful blue and doesn't hurt the plant. I've never tried it myself, but I believe it.

Now, you may be thinking, "A plant that theoretically could burst into flames? Sign me up!"

But I have a warning for all you gardeners who, like me, have fallen in love with the beautiful gas plant. Bursting into flames isn't the only trick this plant has up it's sleeve.

I found out the hard way that if it can't get you with actual fire, it will attack you with a chemical that is photo sensitive and will actually cause your skin to burn and blister if exposed to sunlight after contact.

This has happened to me two years in a row! Last year when it happened I didn't realize what the blisters and dark markings were actually from. I thought maybe poison ivy, but it wasn't spreading as it notoriously does, and it really didn't itch that much unless I was out in the sun or the area got heated somehow.

The blisters lasted for about a month and the dark marks lasted for a few months. I was actually beginning to think that they might be permanent!

Over the winter, I read a few articles about gas plants to see how to propagate them. That was when I discovered that brushing against their foliage could cause skin irritation. They really didn't get into details about how bad it would irritate your skin, though. I have a few plants in my garden that give me a minor rash that lasts a couple of days if I have too much contact with them - no biggie, right? So, when I was pulling weeds around my gas plant a week ago and got scratched by it, I thought no biggie.

Boy was I wrong! In a couple of days, I had the same welts, blisters and dark markings that I had been plagued with most of last summer! I had even washed my arms after the scratching and that didn't seem to have done much to stop it.

On the up side, it doesn't seem to spread (although I am still careful of cross contamination) and calamine does seem to help. Also, although I need to research this a little more, it seems that the volatile chemicals appear with the seed heads. I have touched and brushed up against this plant many times every spring and during flowering and never a reaction. The reaction I got last year was at approximately the same time in June that I got it this year.

I am keeping my plant and haven't completely scrapped the idea of getting a few more (even though my husband is urging me to stay away from them). They are a great plant, I just have to be aware to beware not to be fooled by its beauty; this is one beast of a plant!

an additional article with similar experience Added 05/30/2009