Safety in the Garden
Gardening is a relatively safe hobby, but there are potential dangers. Some plants are poisonous, and many pesticides, even organic ones, are toxic. You can search Cornell University's Poisonous Plant Database by a plant's common or botanical name to find its relative toxicity, or browse through the alphabetical listings. If you have pets or children who might be tempted to nibble on plants, consult this list before making plant purchases.
Be sure to keep all pesticides locked up and out of reach of children and pets. Keep all pesticides in their original containers and follow label directions carefully, especially any precautions. (This isn't just wise, it is also the law.)
If you suspect that someone may have ingested a poison, call the Poison Control Hotline immediately at (800) 222-1222. Visit the American Association of Poison Control Centers Web site for more information on poison prevention, as well as first aid help.
Natural Gardening in Small Spaces
You don't need acres of land to create a natural landscape and sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. In Gardening in Small Spaces (Timber Press, 2003; $29.95), author Noel Kingsbury treats the garden as an ecosystem and offers advice for plantings that are both pleasing to the eye and friendly to wildlife. For example, one aspect of a natural garden is inclusion of a range of habitats, which invites a variety of wildlife as well as provides interest for the gardener. The author also advises choosing plants that suit the site, rather than trying to modify the site to suit the plant. After all, there are plants adapted to all but the harshest conditions on earth.