Paint Mix Up, Bloomin’ Wonderful & Highly Toxic Hemlock Water Dropwort

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 3rd June 2017Leaf_Para_DividerPaint Mix Up

It’s been a busy week, in the wake of the Chelsea Flower Show, but all enjoyable. Firstly I met up with the fabulous Folk Rock Band, Hermitage Green. Funny how things go. I was actually looking up a paint colour called Heritage Green, for a Client. As a result of my over-zealous typing, Google offered me Hermitage Green. I listened to a couple of their tracks, loved them and then, following a strange sequence of events including finding out that they are based in a little village where I used to live in Ireland, they played at a Wedding in Brecon, which I was invited to but couldn’t attend, and we have a mutual friend who still lives in Ireland, the next thing I know, I am at the rather notorious Rockfield Studios meeting up with them.

They all love Wales – Barry played Rugby for Munster and shared stories of his time playing the Ospreys, the Dragons and that the fact that apparently Llanelli was their biggest rival! They all also have a huge reverence and respect for the countryside and choose remote places in Wales to do a lot of their writing. Most of them also enjoy running in the Welsh hills each morning.

Their producer, Welshman Matt Lawrence is also into his Triathlons and Iron Man competitions and is another reason the boys found themselves recording at Rockfield recently.

As well as enjoying their music, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to how fond of Wales they are. We’ll keep a welcome in the hillside for you, boys!

And yes, I also got my paint!

Find out more about Hermitage Green at and Heritage Green at

Bloomin’ Wonderful

I also had the pleasure of being involved in the launch of Blaenau Gwent in Bloom competition, which was held by the One Life Autism Support Group at The Log Cabin Community Centre at Hilltop in Ebbw Vale. The Charity, founded by Susan Gibbons and Lisa Bevan, currently has a membership of over a thousand people on-line and has three weekly support groups running in various locations in Blaenau Gwent. 18 hard-working volunteers help with everything from organising meetings and events to providing support for other parents or individuals with autism face to face or online via private Facebook groups where parents can talk through problems or concerns with an online community of other parents who understand and want to help.

They are providing the most amazing support as autism is often misunderstood, resulting in added frustrations and communication difficulties.

One of there ongoing projects is a sensory garden where children can benefit from experiencing nature in a safe environment. They have already worked wonders and are creating a lovely space but, as a registered Charity, they would be grateful for any suitable donations. You can find out more by calling Susan or Lisa on 01495 311 447 or joining the group at

Entry forms for this years Blaenau Gwent in Bloom competition can be obtained by emailing or phone 01495355567 or collected from the Civic Centre (Ebbw Vale) reception. It is always a fabulous competition – you don’t need to be an experienced gardener, just an enthusiastic one. There are lots of different categories, including New Entries, so go on – have a go!

Highly Toxic Hemlock Water Dropwort

I was also asked to identify a plant for a reader this week. It was growing prolifically in a damp area of their garden and they asked if it was Wild Parsley. I was horrified to see that it was in fact Hemlock Water Dropwort (Dead Man’s Fingers) – the most poisonous plant to both humans and animals, in the UK.

There have apparently been 18 reported cases in the 20th century, eleven of which were fatal.

Oenanthe crocata, to give it it’s Latin name, contains oenanthetoxin, a poly-unsaturated alcohol and whilst he roots contain the greatest concentration, all parts of the plant are highly toxic. A small amount of raw plant material is fatal causing nausea, convulsions, excessive salivation and dilated pupils. Death is reported to ‘come quickly’. The roots have been eaten in mistake for parsnips and the stems have been eaten as celery. It does also smell, and look a little, like parsley as my reader noticed.

Oenanthe comes from the Greek ‘oinis’, ‘wine’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower’ and is said to be because the smell of the flower is like wine. However, even smelling the plant can cause extreme giddiness – which is likened to the effect of drinking wine.

The MAFF publication ‘Poisonous Plants in Britain and their effects on Animals and Man’ gives nausea and vomiting in the list of effects but says that death from Oenanthe crocata, in animals, is quick and may be symptomless.

It can be controlled mechanically, by digging up but handling the roots presents a hazard to the operator and plant material must be carefully disposed off, ideally by burning.

Chemical control is by using Roundup to spot treat individual plants and is an excellent way to control the weed, but do remember that use of any pesticide in or near water requires Environment Agency approval.

If in doubt do please contact a professional. Whilst I hate over-reacting or scaremongering, I am horrified to realise so little is known about this plant and I highly recommend familiarising yourself with it.

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