Sunday, May 03, 2009

Alien invaders!

God, I'm pooped. So much accomplished and yet so much more to do. Too bad I have to work for a living.

The SO came over to help today. His choice of back-breaking labor was weeding along the fence behind the barely findable bee balm. He pulled out Canada thistle, stinging nettle, and - HORRORS! - garlic mustard.

Garlic mustard is one of those evil non-native invasive plants that take over. The local preserves have garlic mustard days - volunteers comb the woods, yanking out the offending plants. They are easy to spot (the plants, not the volunteers) because they are green while everything else is still brown. And they smell like garlic, but not yummy is-the-lasagna-ready garlic - more like day-old garlic breath.

And I was truly aghast that this plant is trying to invade my backyard habitat. There is quite a crop behind the fence, so I will have to crawl back there and eradicate it. Death to garlic mustard!

Another shrubby plant has appeared in my yard, one with pretty little flowers. My inclination was to let it be, but then it seemed to be every where I turned. Finally, it dawned on me that it was honeysuckle. More horrors! Another non-native invasive!

Honeysuckle vine is fine, but honeysuckle bush is not. Last summer I noticed some in the neighbor's privet, and now I'm wishing I had not left it to its malevolent devices. It too must go.

And then there is the Virginia creeper. Even though it looks suspiciously like poison ivy, it is good for wildlife. I tried to train it to grow on the chain link fence, but it refused to cooperate and instead attaches itself to mulch, which to its little plant brain is equivalent to a dead tree. We whacked what was in our way today, but I'm sure it will be back. And I think that is okay.

Grape vine also counts as wildlife friendly, but is also somewhat annoying when it is where you don't want it to be. I'm not very grape vine knowledgeable, but it looks like last year's vines are now dead? And new ones will soon appear? I will have to do some research.

Despite mucho mulching, I have quite the Canada thistle problem in my yard. Every year, I try to at least keep it from going to seed, but last year was a big FAIL in that regard. Now I am paying the price. I am guilty of resorting to Roundup, out of sheer desperation, but I may get one of those flame-throwing weed killers. Just think how satisfying it would be to fry those bastards to a crisp!

And then there is the damn mulberry. Wildlife loves mulberry but I do not. My neighbor has a mulberry tree, and when I trimmed a limb off it last year (it was hanging over my compost pile and cramping my compost-turning style), I discovered I am allergic to them. Contact dermatitis big time. Baby mulberry trees pop up all over my yard, too, so I am contemplating bribing my neighbor into removing that tree. It looks kind of dangerous anyway, after last winter's ice storm.

On the less whiny side of the garden, I did move both 'Betty Corning' clematises (clemati? clemates?) The clothesline poles they were climbing last summer rotted off at the ground, so I strapped their fan-shaped trellises to the downspouts on the West Wing, then plopped them in their new location. Hopefully, they will recover from the shock.

Speaking of downspouts, I staggered around the house with my tall fiberglass ladder to check the gutters, having noticed the ones in front overflowing during a recent downpour. Yes, they were a bit clogged up, one with a snarled nest of roofing staples. My gutter-cleaning technique involves feeding a garden hose down the downspout, dislodging blockages and flushing them away in one wet step. Very effective and efficient, but it kind of reminded me of my colonoscopy.

And I planted onions. I love growing onions, maybe because there is so little labor involved in harvesting them. The asters did not make it through the winter, so I am contemplating creating salad and herb gardens in their pots, ringing the rims with green onions.

Yesterday's wren was nowhere to be seen or heard today. Where did he go? Surely he is not rejecting my little red wren house. During a break, my SO spotted a sparrow-like bird with a Mohawk - three white stripes atop its head. We think it is a White Crowned Sparrow. Good eye!

And now it is time for some Advil before bed.

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