For this year’s annual garden issue we picked a garden that was a major transformation—a reclaiming achieved by the family and a top-notch landscape design professional. We decided to feature this property not only because it is exceptionally beautiful but also because its transformation encourages would-be gardeners of all ages to dig in.
Enjoy the fun—yet, being a Connecticut native, I have learned to be cautious when working in the garden or playing on the lawn with my children. The threat of ticks and Lyme disease is real—and last year it hit home. Despite being vigilant, I found a tick on my young son after a hike in Fairfield. Sure enough, in a couple of days, a bull’s-eye rash appeared and he experienced headaches that left him in tears. He was immediately diagnosed with Lyme and started antibiotics.
Of course I still enthusiastically encourage lots of warm sunshine, fresh air, and messy dirt—essential ingredients for childhood and not so bad for the rest of us. I still have to make my plea from the top of my well-worn soapbox: Careful!
One local resource for information is Time for Lyme (timeforlyme.org)—a Fairfield County nonprofit dedicated to research, education, and advocacy. It offers a wealth of information, including prevention tips, an alarming yet thorough list of typical symptoms, tick removal procedures, and where to find help and get a diagnosis. Here you can even find a map for landscaping your property with a “Tick Zone”—where to place the woodpile, stone walls, wood chips, and a deer-resistant garden.
Another helpful site is turnthecorner. org, with a clip from Under Our Skin, a documentary about the disease.
Lyme advocacy groups are working with Connecticut Attorney General Blumenthal to address a serious threat to guideline recommendations for diagnosis and to long-term treatment. While that intense and long fight about health, money, and politics carries on, we need to do our part by learning everything we can about the disease and how to find a Lyme-literate physician.
If you’re a long-time resident, catch up on the latest. If you’re new to our community, get informed so you don’t ever have to ever say, “I wish I had known.” Go outside, dig in your garden, hike in the woods—and bring the kids. Just be smart about it.