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Don’t let a stroll through the garden become a trip to the emergency room

Don't let a stroll through the garden become a trip to the emergency roomOn Sunday, my husband and I went outside to finish up some yard work. He worked on the courtyard gate while I planted the flowers and our 1 year old happily played in the dirt. We were laughing about how she tried to eat everything and even took pictures of her nasty, messy face.

And then Monday morning, she had a serious diaper blowout. She hadn’t had one of those since she started eating solid foods. Later that afternoon, she had another one. It was filled with watery diarrhea. Later in the evening … You get the idea. Tuesday morning came and she was still getting rid of whatever she ate.

That made me wonder just what she did eat. A quick check online told me that several things I have planted, and a few I was dreaming of growing, are not good choices for a garden with small children.

Of course, any of us might get a tummy ache from lunching in the flower bed. And there are many plants that can induce vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and other digestive complaints. But due to the restraints of space, here is a list of common garden plants that can be deadly. They are in alphabetical order by their common names.

  • Autumn crocus – (Not the popular spring bulb.) Every part of this cute little plant (which looks suspiciously like an onion) can lead to respiratory failure.
  • Castor beans – The seeds, and to a much lesser extent the ornamental leaves, of this plant are the origin of the deadly poison ricin. Just two to four seeds can kill a child.
  • Daphne – Just a few berries off of this pretty shrub can kill a child. The plant itself can also cause skin irritation.
  • Delphinium and larkspur – All parts of these stately flowers are poisonous.
  • Foxgloves – Every part of the foxglove is deadly, following a slow and irregular pulse and convulsions.
  • Golden Chain – The bean-like capsules of this cold-climate flower cause excitability, staggering, convulsions, coma and death.
  • Hyacinths and daffodils – Though the flowers themelves aren’t deadly, don’t led the kids dig up the bulbs. Eating them causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Rarely, they can be fatal.
  • Lantana – This popular plant for warm climates can be lethal. Eating the green berries, which appear as the flowers fall, affect the lungs, kidneys, heart and nervous system.
  • Mountain laurel – (Not bay laurel, which is a cooking herb.) Eating most parts of a mountain laurel can be fatal, following digestive problems, trouble breathing, and coma. Unfortunately, the very common and beautiful azaleas and rhododendrons are related, and should be off-limits for the garden with young children.
  • Oleander – These beauties are hardy and easy to grow–and extremely poisonous. The milky, sticky sap affects the heart. A few unsuspecting campers have used the branches for hot dog or marshmallow skewers with unfortunate results.
  • Privet – The leaves of this popular hedge can be a digestive irritant. But eating the berries can be fatal.
  • Winter jasmine – Ingesting this vine causes digestive problems, but can also cause more serious nerve damage, and can be lethal.
  • Yew – There are many types of Yew, and most of them are not generally fatal. But since every part of the plant except for the berries are toxic to children and pets, and because they CAN be lethal, they may be best avoided. If a child is going to have a reaction, it is often very sudden and violent.

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