The morning seemed like a good time to dig myself a hole. It was the first of several holes that will hopefully be dug over the next month or so. Some time ago I had consulted some people on the topic of hole digging and the results were surprising. A spade is apparently not the desired tool; a long and heavy iron bar is the ideal weapon to take on the earth.
Later that morning I had concreted in the first post for the chicken run. It should be a large enclosure when it is finished. It should give us the option of bringing up our own chicks next year. Today I had only enough concrete and time for a single eight foot long fence post (now only six feet show above ground). As I surveyed the area and mentally went over the plan for the umpteenth time, I spotted a very dangerous thing. I was looking at the plants that will need to be transplanted to make room for the old shed. On one of the plants I noticed some berries and I knew that I probably looking at the most dangerous thing in the garden.
There are lots of dangerous things in the garden. The bee hives are the first thing that springs to mind as they contain tens of thousands of venomous insects. This is why we built the apiary fence. Not as a bee barrier of course. It is a physiological barrier; a reminder to not go near the scary bees.
The yew berries I discovered this morning are a beautiful red colour. Yew trees are uncommon in Ireland and I never expected to find one in the garden. The berries are perfectly presented on an ornamental variety of the yew that has the berries at child picking height. They contain the alkaloid taxine that causes havoc with the heart and then causes death. This is the gardening equivalent of leaving the bleach cupboard open and putting the bleach in orange juice cartons. The whole issue is compounded by the fact that the little man already sees his mum and dad picking berries off the hedges and then he sees us feed them to him, and then he goes “nom nom nom.” We believe he should see this. Too often we have conversations with our students about food and where it comes from. It is shocking that many will not trust any food unless it is wrapped in plastic of some sort.
Yesterday we took a walk along the roads and lanes and nibbled the blackberries. I discovered that the lovely Sharon had never actually tasted a raw sloe. I tentatively chewed one to remind myself of the sensation of having my mouth sucked dry of all moisture along with the sourness of a thousand lemons. We also spotted the dangerous bright red berries of the ‘Lords and Ladies’ resting on their stalk close to the earth. We re-found the mushrooms I had discovered earlier this week. We are nearly certain that they are parasol mushrooms that the books tell us are edible, very tasty, and highly sought after. It is curiosity for us as our foraging is nowhere near the stage of advancing to fungi. We are simply not that bold.
Our hedgerow education to the little man will take time but we need not tempt fate. The yew tree will need to go somewhere. Maybe somewhere inside the scary apiary?