Saturday, May 14, 2011

In The Wrong Place

"A Weed Is Just A Flower Growing Where You Don't Want It."

I never really understood that definition of a weed until we had to cut down our elm tree last spring. Well, actually it took a year.

The elm stood in the southwest corner of our property. It was there when we bought this place in 1977 -- and, judging by its height, for several decades before then. It shaded the major portion of the yard in which it stood, providing us with coolness on hot summer days and preventing many varieties of other plants from taking hold in that area. Except for the Lily of the Valley.
Like the tree that towered above them, these fragrant woodland perennials had seniority over Mars and me. They formed a thick semi-circle around the front base of the elm, insinuating their thin but firmly attached rhizomes in amongst the much thicker roots of their overseer. Their bell-shaped flowers, when they appeared, were white and sweetly aromatic. Uncharacteristically (or so I have heard), they remained pretty much within the confines they established for themselves - rather than attempting to colonize the otherwise flower-less grass that surrounded them.

We have three other sub-gardens of LotV -- around our lamppost; on the entry door end of our family room plot; and surrounding the Mountain Laurel on the north end of our house. All four of these flower zones are the result of either (a) the gardening prowess of one of our home's previous owners or (b) the innate ability of the plant to realize that its best chance for survival lies in not overreaching. Based upon the almost endless opportunities for territorial expansion around my property, I am betting on (b).

It is now the middle of May and the sweet fragrance of the tiny flowers surround me as I enter and exit our family room, get into and out of our driveway-parked vehicles, and check on things in the north forty.

All of which made it harder to decide to rip out the now outlying ones still living at the former sight of the decimated deciduous entity.

For a while I thought about putting in a small perennial bed using the remaining LotVs as a border. But concerns about the lingering root system, and aesthetic issues convinced me otherwise. Of course, as soon it was decided that the land would now go to grass, the Lilies morphed into intrusive weeds rather than decorative demarcators. And the battle to extricate them was joined.

Grasping one of my two favorite gardening tools, the fork-tongued weed remover -- my other "fav" is the Japanese pruning saw -- I marched onto the field of combat and dug away.

Sixty minutes and four buckets later the job was done. I left a small border along the edge of a woodland garden that abuts that end of our property -- feeling confident that the practiced discipline of the Lilies would keep them from encroaching back into their former space. After thirty-plus years of peaceful coexistence I feel they have earned my trust. Even turning them into weeds does not change that belief.

On the other hand THEY may feel totally betrayed by my diminution of their status and choose to rise up and revolt -- in which case the lawn will look kind of strange, but mowing it down will be one enormous olfactory orgy.

Sounds to me like a win-win either way.

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