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IN THE GARDEN: Poison, venom, fire and other dangers

The coral snake. Remember the rhyme 'red and yellow kill a fellow' and keep clear of its venomous bite.

Beware of these hazards while you're out in your gardens and yards, caution Bill Luedecke and daughter Martelle.

1. Calla lily, hydrangea, oleander, mistletoe, azalea leaves, and all parts of begonias are highly toxic to our canine friends. Ingestion can lead to vomiting and diarrhea and other potentially fatal symptoms. Call your local vet or the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

2. With our hot weather, snakes, reptiles, and amphibians are finding cooler spots. Be aware of your surroundings and take simple precautions. For instance, if you are lifting a large flat rock, turned-over wheelbarrow, a piece of plywood that has been sitting for a moment, lift the side that is away from you. That way, whatever is under will scurry away from you rather than toward you.

3. Only four venomous snakes live in Texas: coral snakes, copperheads, cottonmouths (water moccasins), and rattlesnakes.

4. Other, harmless snakes have similar colors in a different order. The rhyme "red and yellow kill a fellow" can help you remember that the coral snake's red and yellow colors touch, but the harmless milk snake has red touching black. (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

5. Copperhead snakes have bands of gray and/or brown with a copper-colored head. They blend in with leaf-covered forest floors, and it's possible to stare right at a copperhead without seeing it! Copperheads bite rather than strike. (TPWD)

6. Rattlesnakes usually rattle before striking, but if they are totally surprised, they might strike before rattling. Most rattlesnakes are active at night when they hunt for prey such as mice, rats, and rabbits. (TPWD)

Read more about snakes in the Highland Lakes.

7. Please dispose of smoking materials such as cigarettes and cigars into a container rather than tossing them onto the ground. With our high winds and drought conditions a cigarette thrown from a car window could ignite more grass/brush/wildfires.

8. Before heading out of the gate pulling a trailer, ensure that all chains are secure. The sparks caused by dragging chains could also start a fire on the side of the road, leading to worse.

9. Make sure that your home address is visible from the street.

10. Store your woodpile at least 100 feet from your home and downhill if possible.

11. Remove dead limbs from trees, especially if they are close to your home. These high dead limbs are a fuel ladder for fire.

12. Clean your gutters. Dead, dry leaves in your gutters are a combustible source on which fuel ladders can feed.

13. Adding a touch of peppermint to your water will help keep you cool from the inside out.

14. Before you freeze your fruit in snack-size bags to use later in your water bottle, cut the fruit to the size of the water bottle opening. (Learned that one the hard way.)

15. Stung by nettle or got an ant bite? Topically apply a touch of tea tree oil for instant relief. Till next time. Keep your souls and soles in your garden! Remember the True Master Gardener: Jesus said, “I am the vine; my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1

"In the Garden" is written by father-daughter duo Bill and Martelle Luedecke and Bill Luedecke. Contact Martelle at 512-769-3179 or luedeckephotography@gmail.com. Contact Bill at 512-577-1463 or bill@texasland.net.

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