Monday, September 22, 2008


Yesterday was a day to start cutting back some of the overgrowth at the back of the garden. A Joe Pye weed had appeared and was a 6' stand covered with morning glories. Pretty flowers that I would rather not have anymore. Anyway, the deer was there within minutes and when he had taken what he wanted he stood looking at me through the fence. I could see by the expression on his face that he was saying "Please can I come inside and trim your vegetable garden for you?"

I said "No" but he came in anyway because I made the mistake of leaving the gate open. Up the steps he came trimming the tomatoes as he went. It wasn't until he reached the smaller beds that I saw him and went running down the path screaming "get out, get out", which he did in a hurry. 

I am so nervous now that he will come up the steps and jump over that I have started to barricade the steps with wheelbarrows. Incidentally this Salvia leucantha was dumped in this spot this year after I removed it from the pool garden. I just dug into the ground with the pick axe and plonked it down. I did water for a week or two but after that it was on its own. I think  it is quite happy here.
I was lucky to see the deer before it got to my newly emerged beans. It is bad enough to have lost all the new growth on the toms. 

My second careless trick was to put my knee down on one of the nails which holds the string in my square foot gardens. I remember thinking about the hazard as I was setting up but decided it was unlikely I would ever put my knee there. I did and the nail was rusty so I was thankful that I keep my tetanus shot up to date. Do you? Every gardener should make sure they are protected in case of an accident. 
So now having learnt a couple caveats I moved into the front garden. Tidying up along one wall I spotted "leaflets three" and promptly went into the house to find plastic bags. They are in short supply these days because I have my own reusable grocery bags. Nevertheless found one with bread in it and went back to remove what I thought was poison ivy. This is what I saw. 

Leaflets 5 and leaflets 3 on the same plant. Now this is really confusing for me.

Particularly as the leaves have the mitt look. Perhaps someone out there can offer a suggestion. Is this poison ivy masquerading as Virginia creeper? 

Late edition. Just did a little research and this is what I found, which explains everything but is still confusing.

"Encountering a plant with three distinct leaves does not necessarily mean the worst- Virginia Creeper is a native plant beneficial to Florida bees and wildlife. But this benign relative of the Grape can sometimes masquerade as Poison Ivy, causing confusion and consternation. Because, though the creeper's compound leaves usually have 5 leaflets, they may also have 3 (or 7). And, both Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy display red pigments in fall and winter".


  1. What a day you've had in your garden. There are no deer here, so I can't imagine one just wandering into my garden. And that's good advice about rusty nails and tetanus shots.

    On the plant id, I checked a couple of websites, and I'm not sure. Better save than sorry, I'd be careful!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. Oh, that is just too funny about the deer getting in. I can see it running around trying to munch as fast as possible.

    I have had that virginia creeper confusion too. Glad you looked it up.

  3. That deer's plaintive look is just priceless. I bet it found those tomatoes yummy!

    So did you decide whether you have poison ivy or Virginia creeper?

  4. Pam- It is Virginia creeper. It is always showing up in my garden. However, I'm going to be very careful and if I don't see 5 leaves at all on the plant then it's the plastic bag treatment. Last year I let one plant creep up the wall and it put on a pretty fall display.

  5. The Virginia creeper in my garden does the 3-to-5 thing too, Jenny. And young shoots of Japanese honeysuckle can look like poison ivy at some stages.
    Oh, those deer! We found out they can climb stairs at our previous Austin house - new gates for the 'plant deck' were one of Philo's first projects.

    Wow, your Salvia leucantha is gorgeous! I'm happy if mine just stays alive.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. Such a pleading expression on that deer's face. What a photo! I'm glad that I don't have deer problems downtown...I know most central Texas gardeners do.

    I've never had any luck at all with Salvia leucantha even though it seems everyone else in Austin has tremendous displays of them. I've killed every one I've every tried. Yours is lovely.