Pulling out invasive plants

Is this a vision of your gardening past—or future?

By Katie Stannard
This gardening life is a heart-breaking business. You Must Promise Not To Tell A Single Other Living Soul What I’m About to Divulge. 
I must come clean about this. As soon as I started writing this post, I suddenly became aware that many of the weeds profiled were indeed very happy residents in my own garden. I began to wonder why This Year the bindweed I’ve casually battled for 20 years, has decided to aggressively spread and emerge. (Is it because it’s 2020, apparently The Year When Bad Things Happen/a year already fraught with bad vibes?) Why every time I sit down to write about another invasive species, I look out and spy another twisted tangled bindweed vine encircling a welcome perennial. Why now that I’ve learned the creeping bellflower–though pretty in purple–has distinctly nefarious intent, it’s spreading rampantly in my garden. (Though it does seem to be affected in some spots by the recent drought. Yay!) Why I figured out that the plant offered to me by a neighbor gardener as a “hardy, drought tolerant type and sturdy grower” was none other than an invasive leafy spurge. Why the creeping charlie knows that I hate it, and is marching relentlessly across the back yard, taunting me. Why this year, after 20 years of stunning, prolific, undisturbed growth and joy, my utterly delightful Black Beauty lilies are stunted, at about 20% of their regular bloom, and also appear to have a stem mining weevil. Whhhhhhyyyyyy?
Don’t even get me started on the trees. We love the shade in the front yard which is from an invasive Norway maple. My beloved white pine is….dropping needles at the wrong time. The redbud planted in memory of my brother is dying, and so is the magnolia.
And I’m wondering why This Year, the mice, ants, wasps, and neighborhood skunk are all misinterpreting that our welcome mat applies to them?!
Maybe it’s because it’s August. And we’re worn out. And the battle with the weeds continues. And we’re more than a bit overwhelmed by the pandemic and all of the associated ramifications. 
My new rule of thumb: if a gardener-friend offers you a passalong plant whose apparent volume fills a container that looks the size of a miniature swimming pool, be suspicious. Politely decline. Or … accept it, then throw it out. You will experience a freedom like no other. 
So this week’s post is about commiserating. Go on, let it out. Yes there are bigger problems in the world, but sometimes one’s own garden seems like weedy warfare. Get those terrible, exasperating tales out there. Share your story or share “a story from a friend.” Such as, “my friend planted Russian sage along a sunny, dry area of her garden and now its woody roots are crawling down the foundation.” Confess that you planted an invasive because like me….you didn’t know any better, and you were too busy working/raising children/putting food on the table/going to school/making a better life for your family to do a thorough background check on passalong plants. It’s ok. We’re here to listen, commiserate, share your exasperation. This is a judgement free zone. Share your comments in Facebook comments (@mbgna) about your garden battles today with #truegardentales–and next week we’re going to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, grab our weeding tools and keep gardening/talk about victories/talk about strategies.
#matthaeinichols #umichnature #umich #invasiveoftheweek #truegardentales
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