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Hidden dangers in the garden; Inside Out : POISONOUS PLANTS Green Hellebore Mistletoe Hemlock Alder Buckthorn Lily of the Valley Foxgloves Yew.

Byline: Penny Fray

With rash-inducing weeds and poisonous plants lying about, the garden can be a dangerous place to be. Penny Fray reports

FOR many people the garden is heaven on earth. The air is saturated with sweet floral scents while an explosion of roses and lilies hold the eyes ransom to their beauty. Yet danger lurks around every corner.

Apart from the angry wasp's sting or aggressive bites from an army of ants, there are flowers with allergenic properties, toxic trees and poisonous plants, all ready to attack their green-fingered foe.

Medical statistics reveal that more than 1,000 adults and a further 5,000 children are poisoned in the garden each year, proving that the backyard isn't always the safe haven it is reputed to be.

The Consumer Association recently surveyed 756 keen gardeners and discovered that more than 40pc of them had an allergic reaction to either plants or flowers.

And acknowledging some of the dangers that skulk outside, the Horticultural Trades Association have even issued a list of hazardous plants to ensure that garden centres and nurseries carry warnings about the potentially allergenic properties of some common greenery.

Among the most toxic plants are monkshood, laburnum, foxgloves and ivy leaves. And even pretty flowers like daffodils and bluebells can cause a powerful rash.

It is a fact that comes as no surprise to Dr Eileen Smith from the Institute of Biological Science at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. "Many of our students have had problems working with plants growing in the greenhouse, " she says. "One was even allergic to the compounds found in cucumbers."

She claims that some individuals also find themselves sensitive to the alkaline blend in the solanaceae family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes and tobacco. The symptoms can range from a slight spots to diarrhoea. Lillies can also cause asthma attacks in some people while eating daisies and chrysanthemums can cause severe stomach upsets.

With one in five people suffering from some sort of allergy, an outdoor life can be a nightmare.

Those who have hayfever usually curse the summer season. But they still fare little better during the colder months. Sweeping up the autumn debris can be a dangerous job with so many allergy-inducing catkins scattered on the ground.

ABREW of stinging nettles may lower blood pressure and help rheumatism, but tangle with them at your peril because their hairs can cause nasty red spots on your skin. While those who like mushrooms should avoid eating poisonous varieties like Death Cap, Panther Cap and Destroying Angel.

But before you vow to avoid mother nature's gifts altogether, a spokesman for the accident and emergency department of Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, claims that severe or life-threatening allergies resulting from plants are rare.

"A number of plants are poisonous if eaten, " says Alan Parry. "So we see examples, particularly involving children, where they may for example have eaten berries. We also come across the odd case associated with hay fever or nettles but only when very severe."

So how do your reduce your chances of being affected by garden allergies?

According to Dr Smith, prevention is better than cure.

She says: "Cover your arms and always wear rubber gloves with harmful plants."

And if you are splashed with sap, wash it off immediately.

UNDER pounds 10

ROGER & GALLET'S new garden collection bath range smells good enough to eat.

Made from tasty salad vegetables like cherry tomato, lettuce and carrot, it includes soaps and bath and shower gels in all three flavours. It is formulated for sensitive skin, designed not to disrupt the skin's pH balance and is gentle enough to be used by all the family. The gels cost pounds 4.95 and the soap is pounds 2.50.

UNDER pounds 20 The new improved version of Lancome's lightreflecting face power is now in the shops.

Poudre Majeur Excellence (pounds 19.50 compact, pounds 22 loose) has been ground to a finer texture.

Smooth oils allow the powder to glide easily over the skin whilst micro particles shimmer in the light, creating a radiant complexion.

UNDER pounds 30

Why choose a look and stick with it for months? You can revamp your image on a daily basis with Remington's Flexicurls (pounds 29.99).

There's no need for clips or complicated styling.

With one twist they allow you to create spiral curls, romantic waves or ringlets.

The heat-proof holder contains 20 flexicurls that change colour when they're ready to use.


Pamper yourself at a girlie evening in with a Goddess Gathering Kit from Jaqua Girls(pounds 30) designed to be used by three friends. Create the right atmosphere with the jasmine incense and Hestia's candle before relaxing with the Kali herbal foot soak. The kit comes in eyecatching, bright pink packaging and also includes jojoba lotion, bindis and henna tattoos.


PRETTY DANGEROUS: Lily of the Valley's beauty belies a hidden hazard
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 9, 2001
Previous Article:Garden's owner digs in on shop closure bid.
Next Article:The prickly guardian of good health; Inside Out.

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