When last we heard from our horticulturally challenged heroine, she had bravely begun a garden revamp and, although thwarted by an irreverent ground cover, she remained determined to eradicate this invasive albeit attractive plant. The grand scheme of this, the most viewed garden, was in its early stages. Now, a month and a half later, this possessed plant and I are engaged in a death match. I used to be sure hell would be painting miles and miles of woodwork. The extraction of this plant has become my new hell and this dirt, the portal there.
What began as a redesign of my garden has turned into the gauntlet of gardening. Why bother? Because when I set my mind to a task, my determination will complete it. And this time, it’s personal. I must confess that I spent money on this particular patch of dirt some years ago. This may be payback from the landscaper. I annoyed her with my penny pinching and my offers to be helpful. I asked if we could keep this pretty plant in the garden and the wide eyed look she gave me probably meant something. Since that fateful expenditure, I have systematically taken out most of the other plants she put in. But when only one of my purple coneflowers, usually so robust and abundant, barely came up this summer, I realized something was amiss. Could it be this “multicolored heart shaped leaved spreading-like-a-weed ground cover with a pretty white flower that blooms in the springtime” was to blame? And that’s when I discovered the root system of this seemingly innocuous plant covered 60 percent of my twenty by ten foot garden bed.
I am fond of saying, “Drops in the bucket fill the bucket up.” I am all about the bucket. I envisioned the filling of this bucket would take some back aching labor. Once done, the rains would come and make all plants happy. Cue the springtime and ta-da, I’d have a whole new garden. But as I shoved my shovel under these plants, the root system astounded me. I have spent at least twelve woman hours stooped over this bed. Several times just for an hour and still I dripped sweat. Having reached twelve inches below the surface, I might find the end of the spaghetti-like tendrils that tunneled down to the sand layer. Hairy Spaghetti that breaks easily. And just when I thought I was done, more and then more. Its quirky little habits include running under brick sidewalks and through another plant’s root ball.
I called up my friend Miss Patty yesterday and I belly ached and moaned about all of this. She said, “Did you consider using Round-up?” She’s a woman who loves to garden and would love to help but she has these pesky twelve hour shifts she works. I said something dumb like, “Wow, I seem to be a woman of leisure.” And she says, not missing a beat, “Someone needs to be”. I should be ashamed of myself for carrying on about my stinky garden. Surely Patty would give something up, I presume to know not what, to have the time to have my problems. But someone’s got to pay for her kids’ college education. Surely, I am not grateful enough for how well I am kept by my husband who appears happy when I am happy. If I am happy complaining about my garden, so be it.
Of course, the perfect gardening weather occurred the third week of October while I was involved in a fundraiser event. This was promptly followed by a virus that hostilely took over my household and still refuses to leave my nose. There was no gardening going on. Just longing agitated looks out the kitchen window. Yesterday, with the chilly wind whistling over my bare ears, I was finally out there. I don’t know why I was surprised to discover still another pocket of the spaghetti roots under the plastic under the bricks (and Miss Codependence has to escort every single worm over to its own safe worm zone). Cue the maniacally rapid fire quacking from the ducks nearby; a “quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, and quack,” that sounds just like the evil laugh of Batman’s archenemy the Penguin. It was a sign. I had missed the warm weather. I had missed a bunch of good rain. I had pulled out wheelbarrows of this stuff that my sister, the gal who knows the Latin name for stuff, called “painter’s palette” (although no database will concur). But surely, as the sun will rise tomorrow, the mystery ground cover from hell will pop its pretty little head out of this bed numerous times next spring.
For now, I just have to soldier on. With the second draft of my garden plot shoved in my back pocket, I began to transplant plants that are probably unhappy being ousted from their comfy beds. All of this in need of completion before the window of weather opportunity officially smashes down on my fingers. I know there’s karma at work; payback for all those poor little plants I failed to keep alive. I’m sorry New Guinea Impatiens. I’m sorry alyssums and cleomes. It’s a far better place you go to. As for this “plant,” I wouldn’t be surprised to see my composting hillside covered with it come next spring. Did I mention the hillside’s behind a church? Hallowed ground? Karma, I’m telling you.