Gardening injuries

by Kate Bradbury

Gardening injuries ... normally happen in spring, when the first sunny day of the year inspires hours of weeding, pruning and digging after a winter of sitting on the sofa eating pies.

Using secateurs very close to fingersA few weeks ago, I suffered what swiftly became my most painful gardening injury to date: I stubbed my toe on a tasteless garden ornament. (It wasn't mine, I was helping out at a friend's garden.) Within seconds I knew this was no ordinary toe stubbing - I couldn't move my foot. Comforting myself with the knowledge that most people who think they've broken a toe actually haven't, I cycled the 15 miles home and had a bath.

The next morning my foot was so swollen I couldn't walk. I managed to drag myself to A&E for an X-ray (it wasn't broken, but I had torn some ligaments, apparently). I'm not the only one who's ended up in A&E after a garden injury: the Telegraph reports that in spring visits to injury clinics with gardening-related injuries are often higher than those for sports like football and rugby.

Gardening injuries are horribly common. They normally happen in spring, when the first sunny day of the year inspires hours of weeding, pruning and digging after a winter of sitting on the sofa eating pies. But your garden can harm you at any time of year - just the other day my friend came round to dinner sporting a black eye, which she'd received from a thorny bramble while picking blackberries. Another friend once caused herself so much damage she had to see a physiotherapist for weeks afterwards. She'd never gardened before, or even exercised, it seems. That didn't stop her excitedly tackling her brand new garden all in one day.

My mum is a seasoned gardener, but she puts her back out weeding every year (I'm sure she does it deliberately so she can take time off work to watch Wimbledon). Last week she sliced her thumb open deadheading lavender.

It's any wonder we go out into our gardens at all, with the dangers of lawn mowing, pruning, even using compost. Then there's plant sap - euphorbia is particularly dangerous, as it can cause temporary blindness.

I'm lucky I only stubbed my toe, even if it did look a lot worse. But what about you? Have you ever come a cropper in the garden?

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Talkback: Gardening injuries
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Gardeners' World Web User 30/07/2010 at 17:16

My boyfriend's finger bears the scar from where his father cut down it with secateurs when he was a kid. I still can't understand how it happens!

Gardeners' World Web User 30/07/2010 at 17:18

Far too many. I've sliced off a woodlouse shaped piece of finger with secateurs, in the cold rain, when I thought I was actually struggling to snip through a stubborn calabrese. I've somehow contrived to entangle a stone momentarily in the wire of a strimmer that has a milisecond later released it on a swift trajectory into my (ahem) midriff. It made me ponder the nature of pain and I blogged about it a while back. I think you had Type 2 pain where you get a delay betweeen impact and pain...the longer the delay the worse the pain that follows. Nice to have a partner in documenting gardening misfortunes, fab blog.

Gardeners' World Web User 30/07/2010 at 17:19

Sorry, that was me, didnt mean to be anonymous

Gardeners' World Web User 30/07/2010 at 17:34

Many years ago, before I was born, my father fell through the greenhouse when he was getting a shirt off the line (he used the greenhouse solely for drying clothes). He was supposed to be going to a cocktail party with his then girlfriend, but ended up in A & E instead. The girlfriend dumped him, and he met my mother. She tore down the greenhouse and put up a much better one where she now grows tomatoes and all sorts of lovely things. There's no room for shirts any more.

Gardeners' World Web User 30/07/2010 at 20:03

Ive been working in my new garden for about 2 months after a recent move from a flat with no garden. after no experience i now have a full raised bed with lettuce, tomato and potatoes and have a lovely 7ft flower bed with fusia, dusty miller red hot pokers nemisia, larel and budlia pruned 1 a week to keep every thing in trim so far injuries to call are as follows. torn ligament in my back broken finger x 6 broken toe x 3 pull muscle in my upper arm groin stigma dislocated shoulder dislocated wrist and countless scratches grazes & bruises. guess im rather unlucky or just careless

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