Friday, July 01, 2016

Accidentally on purpose

Sometimes gardening goes according to plan, but not always. Here are some cases in point.

Every time I see this Joe Pye growing through the deck, I get irritated. Not at the plants, but at the contractors who did not adhere to my specifications to build the deck on the footprint of the patio slab. Instead, they made it a little bit bigger, encroaching on a bed of perennials. I let these plants grow in situ, just to aggravate myself, I guess. They keep spreading, so maybe they will spread out from under the decking.

The Joe Pye isn't the only plant to grow through the deck. I never planted any Common Milkweed in my yard, but they appeared one day and I decided to let them stay. Now there are clumps here and there, but I have yet to see a single monarch caterpillar anywhere.

There are several other plants growing in my yard that I never planted. I'm sure the birds are to blame for some, but I also suspect the free mulch I have obtained from our county compost site. I love the concept of people dropping off their yard waste and having it transformed into mulch and compost, but the reality is not so ideal. In the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, though, I have incorporated some of the newcomers into my yard.

Usually I try to eliminate the brambles, but this black raspberry established itself on the other side of the chain link fence. My son pointed out the berries, which are few and small, but oh-so-delicious.

Wild grapevine can be a nuisance, but the birds do like the fruit. This year I made a rule: it can grow on the back fence, but not on the side fences. The back fence is hidden from those neighbors by their privet hedge, but the side fences are in plain view. So far, the neighbors on either side have not complained, but the family on one side is moving and I don't want to get on the wrong side of the new people right off the bat.

Pokeweed can be a nuisance as well, but again, the birds love it, especially robins and bluebirds. I let some go, as long as its location is not problematic.

In the past, I have yanked the volunteer fleabane out, but this year let a couple of clumps remain. They are native, and while the flowers are not big and showy, they are profuse and continue for quite a while (unlike the Shasta Daisy, which is now pouting because I moved it). I may take the clumps and incorporate them in actual flower beds, that's how much I appreciate the fleabane.

Then there are a variety of plants that I deliberately installed but which have taken on a life of their own.

Several times I have tried to get Black Eyed Susan going here and there in the yard, without success. But at some point, it established itself in what it must consider prime locations. One spot is in the hosta bed, which doesn't get much sunshine; this year's primary clump seems to be struggling, though, because the Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart is crowding it. The other two big clumps are in front of the 'Betty Corning' Clematis vines. Why? I don't know

Along with the Black Eyed Susan is the Canadian Columbine, which pops up all over the place, here in the hosta bed along with some Black Eyed Susan. I'm happy to let it have its way, as the plants are not crazy thick nor long lasting and the blossoms are so pretty.

Last year, I planted calendula in the bed by the front walk, hoping it would reseed itself profusely. That did not happen, but there are a few plants here and there. Its flowering period last longer than the coreopsis and contrast nicely with the sedum, so I hope they continue to prosper. The tricky thing is to not pull the seedlings when weeding.

Even though I knew better, I planted some mint in the yard once upon a time. Now it is everywhere. I yank it over and over, but it prevails. Pollinators love it, so I am letting this one clump go, a decision I may regret. From my understanding, mints do not grow from seed but spread via its vast root system. I tried growing it in a pot, but it did not do well.

Back to the I-did-not-plant-this category. A chipmunk probably planted the seed for this mystery gourd growing in the flower box on the front porch. Since members of the squash family breed freely with each other, there is no telling what the fruit of this vine will be. I'm letting it grow out of curiosity.

Finally, we see the peril of developing a backyard habitat along with a garden: voracious woodchucks. This guy has become a bit bold, sometimes chewing on the front of the house and one time venturing onto the back deck. If I were quicker and it was not, I'd have an up-close-and-personal photo, instead of this grainy one taken through a window at an awkward angle. (Yes, there is a lot of clover in my yard.)

I'm guessing the deck foray was in search of water, as the ground level bird baths were dry that day (bad of me). In a sweeping lack of logic, I am now supplying the groundhog with water, in hopes it will stop knocking over the bird bath that is on a stand. At least the vegetable garden seems secure... for now.

A neighbor has offered me the use of his Havahart trap, but last night I dreamed there were BABY woodchucks frolicking in the backyard. If that happens in real life, I hope Finn the Helpful Gardening Cat will step up and do his job like he does with the baby rabbits. I appreciate his efforts even though I cannot watch. Or maybe a hawk will get them, if they exist. I'm willing to let Mother Nature do my dirty work.


Jason said...

Your fuzzy picture of the woodchuck is somewhat suggestive of a land-based Loch Ness Monster. I have no doubt the Joe Pye will spread into the open. Just tell people you have a "green deck" instead of a green roof.

CommonWeeder said...

My neighbor (in town!) had a woodchuck living under her porch. She didn't care until it started dining out in her new vegetable garden. She got a friend with a havahart trap, but when he pulled the woodchuck out of the trap he said, "She's lactating!" The woodchuck was put back under the fence to wait weaning period. Then more traps came out. I was bringing over my havahart and walked down the street. One big trap was on her front lawn - and inside it were 2 baby woodchucks. Circling the trap was Mama and the third baby. It's hard to visit your children in stir. Oh,no I squeaked, dropped my trap and left. When I told my neighbor what I had seen she barely believed me and was glad she wasn't there. ALL the woodchucks had a ride to some faraway place.