Unbelievably, over a year ago, many people walked through my property on the Secret Garden Tour. All of the native plants were labeled and weeded. Boy, have things changed!
I was so relieved that all that work was done and that so many people came and left happy, that I stopped working as hard on the yard. Then, this year the monsoon season hit. The flowers have been gorgeous, but of course, so also have the weeds been plentiful.
This article is going to inform you of my successes and problems I've encountered. First, I will review my goals. Being a fan of native plants that make our Northeastern Woodland Region very special and unique in the world, I try to find as many natives as possible to plant in my yard. These are the plants that were here before white people came.
First, some people say that if we keep planting alien cultivars and neglect the natives, there will be fewer and fewer species left on earth. I know, that seems like a radical thing to say and hard to comprehend. At any rate, I don't want to contribute to that problem.
Second, to do my little part in protecting the environment, I have mowed paths only three times this year. It takes me twenty minutes compared with the forty-five that it used to take to mow all the lawns.
Third, I wish to include plants (including cultivars) that attract wildlife - especially birds and butterflies - not bears. I bring in my bird feeders at night, because a few years ago a bear destroyed all of my feeders at night. I was not pleased. I do like the deer, but try to plant species that they won't devour, or I protect dear (pardon the pun) species so that the deer can't get to them.
I'll discuss my problems and end upbeat with descriptions of my lovely specimens. OK. This is very painful. I have lived in this house since 1980. Being very naive, I thought that, just by weeding out individual plants of Bishop's Weed, I would eventually remove the problem. Wrong. Even though this plant has lovely leaves, (especially the variegated species) and lacy flowers, it produces underground roots. Man, do they travel! In spite of all my weeding, I now have this plant all over the yard in front of my house. I have heard that the only way to organically remove this plant is by digging each square foot of ground and hand picking out the white roots. Ugh! That will take forever!
Next problem. Goldenrod. It is so beautiful in the fall. However, even though it is native, it is invasive. That's right. Just because a plant is native doesn't mean that it's not invasive. It has underground roots like the Bishop's Weed. It's very hard to stamp out. I am compromising and digging out just Tall Goldenrod. I will keep the shorter varieties that don't block my view of other flowers.
Speaking of beautiful flowers that are very invasive. Dandelions are considered a weed. I don't want to remove this plant with toxic chemicals. When I stopped mowing my yard, the dandelions appeared by the hundreds. The yellow flowers were beautiful, but, when the white seeds appeared, I was nervous. So ... First, I tried cutting each stemmed seed cluster with scissors. Too time-consuming. Second try. Vacuum the seeds. I'm not kidding you. I thought that I would just wave the vacuum cleaner hose closely over the seeds. Wrong. I had to cover each individual seed cluster with the extension hose. Forget it. Too much work. Can you picture my doing that? It was hilarious.
Queen Anne's Lace is another beautiful, but invasive flower. It is not native. Unlike the others I have discussed, they are easy to pull out - not requiring digging. Thank goodness.