Monday, July 30, 2007

Vines and Weeds

As far as I know, Plainfield doesn’t have kudzu. But around my neighborhood, there are plenty of other vines that are draping trees and shrubs with an unwanted green mantle.

On my block we have wisteria, bittersweet, Virginia Creeper, honeysuckle, poison ivy, wild grape, nightshade, English Ivy, bindweed, virgin’s bower and morning glory vines slithering on fences, walls, shrubs and trees. This year the vines seem to be especially prolific. I bought a machete at Park Hardware to do battle with some of the vines.

The sidewalk to Park Avenue from Municipal Lot 7 is just about impassable due to vines hanging off the fence and running along the ground. An unruly border of mares-tails completes the neglected look of the passageway.

While our resident mockingbird enjoys the fruits of some of these vines, they are mostly just a nuisance to us humans.

Down at Netherwood Station, there is a weed that is not just annoying, it is actually dangerous to dogs. When I looked up foxtail grass, I found out its seeds can work themselves into a dog’s nose, ears, mouth and other body parts, requiring a veterinarian’s care to remove them and treat infection caused by the barbs. This is one of the weeds that are covering up the lily turf around the lawn sign.

The sensible way to remove weeds is to pull them up early, but that assumes the ability to recognize them before they take over. We got rid of a lot of mugwort in the spring, but then it took off in early summer and now dominates one garden patch.
Someone once said a weed is just a plant in the wrong place. I have a soft spot for some weeds, like Flower-of-an-hour. It's such a strange plant, with its elusive blooms and its papery seed capsules, that I tend to let it be wherever it shows up.
The best thing about weeds may be the pure satisfaction a gardener feels when a flower bed is thoroughly purged of interlopers and is completely tidy - at least for that moment.
--Bernice Paglia


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