By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

If you got an Easter lily, and you have a cat, give it to one of your dog loving friends. Just getting pollen from the plant on your cat can cause kidney failure and death within 24 to 48 hours. Nibbling on a leaf or flower can be deadly for your fur baby. Easter lilies aren’t the only problem, any lily will have the same effect. Stick to roses.

Lilies aren’t the only plants cat parents should avoid. Aloe, the first aid plant, (it’s good for burns, but only on people) can cause a severe irritation of the mouth, throat and digestive tract, or even convulsions or death for a susceptible cat.

Everyone knows that you should not let your kids snack on your Dieffenbachia, well named dumb cane. The calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves can cause drooling, swelling of the tongue or even kidney damage to both kids and cats.  Kalanchoe leaves contain a class of cardiac steroids that can cause heart damage. Heavenly Bamboo or Nandia, isn’t vey heavenly, it produces cyanide a deadly poison. If your cat eats this it will cause seizures, coma, respiratory failure and death. Keep this plant only in a household that has no cats or kids.

Some children are determined to graze on house plants. If you have one of these, plants either remove them or put them well out of the reach of your adventurous offspring. Peace lily, English ivy, philodendron, Ficus, Christmas or Jerusalem cherry, rubber tree or pencil cactus, aka milk brush. can all cause problems if eaten.

Danger isn’t just indoors. There are some real killers in your flower garden too. Seeds from Datura and Castor bean are killers as is the sap from Oleander. People have died after using a branch of Oleander to roast wieners or marshmallows. Raw elderberries and the flowers of hydrangea contain cyan a poison. All parts of Christmas rose, and foxglove are deadly. Don’t eat your Bleeding heart, larkspur, delphinium, or the seeds of lily of the valley. Gardeners generally don’t chew on their plants or eat flower seeds, but it never hurts to be aware of the dangers lurking in the garden.

If you plant Rosary Pea with a plan to make rosaries from them, wear gloves when you are piercing them. Getting the sap on your hands can make you very ill. Ingesting a seed is fatal.

Now that you are scared to death of your house and garden plants, happy spring.

If you have a shady yard and want to plant vegetables, don’t despair, there are quite a few veggies that will grow in dappled shade. Dappled shade means, there are spots of sun throughout the day and at least 2 hours of full sun during the day.   Plant beets, carrots, onions, turnups, radishes the cole crops, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli here.  All leafy vegetables will do well too. Lettuce, mustard greens, Swiss chard and if you are a Martha fan, kale and arugula. Shaded plants will be slower to bolt, lettuce will stay edible longer and shady spots don’t dry out as quickly as they do in full sun.

Gardeners can always find a place to garden no matter what the problem spaces. We are just darn persistent people.