Pandemics, floods and oil price plummets come and go, but the battle with quack grass goes on forever. The first three plagues aren’t something I can do anything about, but regarding the fourth, I just have to keep trying.
It’s one thing to get the flowerbeds cleaned off, removing the debris left there last fall to hold the snow in place (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it) and raking off leaves that if not loaded and hauled off immediately would be right back where I raked them from. It’s another thing altogether, once all the debris is removed and hauled to the compost heap, to see that the never-ending enemy, quack grass, has not only wintered well, but is looking annoyingly perky despite having its last year’s growth yanked off with the rake.
It’s not the only thing that’s growing, of course. The tulips, daylilies, poppies, iris and peonies are all shooting up new growth inches at a time, and the bergenia is burgeoning… but then, that’s been happening ever since it first poked a leaf above the snow, and probably not surprising, being that the species originated in Siberia. I certainly didn’t know how hardy it was or how determined it was to take over the world when a well-meaning friend first shared a smallish division of her plant with me, but at least it’s a cheerful sight first thing in the spring. But even the bergenia can’t repel the quack grass, which gets right in there and snuggles up under its saucer-size leaves.
One bed, and here I have my fingers crossed, seems to be dealing much better with the persistent invader than the others, and I attribute that to the thick layer of cedar bark I dumped on it last year. That bed, however, has another unwelcome interloper – shoots off the apple tree keep poking up, almost to the point that I need to station its own pair of loppers nearby to keep them in check. That’s still better than quack grass.
Another bed only has a minor invasion, and I think it is getting too much competition there from new shoots popping up around my lilies, combined with a fast-growing carpet of violas, which I don’t mind at all. They are such cheerful little flowers and I only have to deal with them when they start spreading out onto the lawn, where the mower looks after them with no extra effort on my part.
The worst beds are the rock garden and the beds on the sunny east side of the house, where the grassy gremlins are already hard at work trying to strangle every last iris. I have been battling this for years, even one year to the extent of digging up every iris root, planting them in boxes of dirt for the summer and dousing the area where they’d been growing with Round-Up, when sifting through the soil and pulling out miles of grass roots only worked for a week or two before a new crop magically appeared. The chemical did work for a year or so, but then, the pestilence was back. I had read on the label that the chemical shouldn’t hurt plants such as iris, so during the next round, I tried spraying it on a test section about eight feet long. It didn’t kill the iris, but it set them back so they didn’t bloom for two or three years, and I didn’t try that again.
So, it’s dig, yank, pull, dig, yank, pull, haul far from any place that could be infested. Out in the pasture, cows don’t discriminate against quack grass, it’s green, it’s tender and it grows right back, so it’s safe to deposit it there. Somehow though, a root or two always gets missed, and gets right back to work trying to take over as much of the world as the bergenia allows.
You may notice that I don’t drone on about dandelions. Well, that’s because they at least look cheerful, they’re easily mowed into submission on the lawn, and once I dig them out of the flowerbed, that’s it for the year. Wild raspberry canes in the rock garden… well, that’s another story!