Saturday, September 19, 2009

Scorn of Buckthorn

I hate buckthorn, it is not the plant for me
Merely a shrub but thinks it's a tree
Roots as long as the trunk is tall
Spreads early spring to late in fall
Spiky thorns pierce gloves and shoes
No buckthorn I would never choose

It's non-native, it's invasive
It kills the spring ephemeral
It is glossy, it is spiky
It is a hardened criminal

I hate buckthorn, it is not the plant for me
You pull out one and it grows three
It does not heed your swears or pleas
It laughs at Roundup on its leaves
It will not die so you can’t mourn
Oh buckthorn I can only scorn

It's non-native, it's invasive
It kills the spring ephemeral
It is glossy, it is spiky
It is a hardened criminal

Over the last seven years I've been removing invasive buckthorn (both common (Rhamnus cathartica) and glossy (Rhamnus frangula)) from the two edges of my backyard that border a natural area. Buckthorn is really invasive because it has a longer growing season than other shrubs so it has longer to grow, it grows really quickly and thrives in suboptimal conditions, and it spreads both by roots (which one never manages to get all of) and seedlings from the many, many berries it produces and which are spread by birds. These removal exercises always leave me swearing, sweating, scratched, and exhausted. But they also led me to create the song above. It has an appropriately gloomy melody and is sung in a low, over-dramatic voice. (Someday, you may even get to hear it!)

There's a walking path just the other side of my property so when I've previously removed buckthorn, I cut and bagged maybe half of it and left the other half laying in rows like a hedge along my property. Well, I wanted to cut more buckthorn so I could plant some other shrubs in that area, rather than fighting with the same buckthorn seedlings each spring.

So my friend Carole and I pulled out all the dead branches that had accumlated over the years and cut them into smaller pieces to fit into yard waste bags. It was enough to fill the seven bags shown here, plus one out front and one bundle of thick branches. Plus about four more bundles, that have yet to be cut to size. Plus two bags that went last week. Whew!

After clearing out the mess, I made another mess. I used Ziggy, my trusty chainsaw (as shown in my avatar!) to clear out a bunch more buckthorn. Look at all this crap!

A lot of the branches are 12-15 feet long!

I have to deal with cutting these to size in the next week or so. My chainsaw chain came off the blade and I have to fix that first.

The first photo is salt on the cut. Many of the smaller trees were pulled at the roots and others were chainsawed closer to the ground. I cut a few off at about three feet and will thread a few dead branches through the stumps to make a sort of very low fence, or at least a property delineation. I usually paint concentrated Roundup (not diluted) onto the stumps with a sponge craft brush, but the guy who cut down a huge tree at my mom's told her to use salt to keep the tree from resprouting. It's cheaper so I'm giving it a go.

I really, really hate buckthorn.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Save Your Seeds for Snail-Mail Seed Swap!

Save, save, save ~ Save, save, save
Save your seeds ~ Save your seeds
You can do it! (Sing to the tune of Shake Your Booty!❀)

As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, do not despair! There's still a lot to do in the garden, and saving your seeds is a great way to save money and get more plants! Trading seeds with other gardeners is even more fun! In January (in time for us winter seed sowers), I'll host my second annual round-robin snail-mail seed swap.

I'll post official directions and sign-up instructions in December, but start collecting seeds now. For a preview, check out last year's instructions.

Yes, I know it's a terrible ear worm. I apologize but I think I'm a bit high on bathroom cleaner fumes, and OK, I'll just say it, I like some disco. Not so much this song, but it just fits! But please don't let my poor taste in music prevent you from participating in the swap! It was a hoot last year.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vonderful Vincennes Visit

Heading to St Louis in late August, my friend Carole and I stopped in Vincennes, IN to visit Lisa of Greenbow. Here are, from the left, Luna, me, the Greenbow mascot, and Lisa. Lisa has a photo that includes Carole in her entry about the visit.

I love all these decorations. The idea of a metal shelf used outside is wonderful. I love the staghorn fern, too. And check out the wonderful windowbox and the flowerpot wreath.Everything is so inviting and colorful.

I love how the tomatoes look around this wonderful planter arrangement.

I love the idea of planting groundcovers (in this case, goldmoss sedum and sweet mountain fleabane) in an old tree trunk/bark!

This is Lincoln the bear. I mistook him for a hippo, but he didn't hold it against me.

I love the black and blue salvia, and plan to plant some next season. I'd never heard of it when I saw it at Lisa's and then saw it twice again in close succession at MOBOT and at Beckie's. It just proves they have good taste! (And I found out that Beckie and Lisa are cousins!)

I love this trellis along Lisa's property line. You can almost make out two evergreens on her neighbor's property. I'm sure the circle opening is called a window, but I think of it fondly as a hole. I saw many more holes at MOBOT.

I love Lisa's use of old golf clubs as hose guides.

I have a very similar obelisk/trellis thingie that I've been moving around and trying different things on, none of which had struck my fancy. Alas, I love hummingbird vine, especially how it covers all the metal work, and will move mine to a sunny location and plant this vine in it next spring. Yay!

I was very taken with this fleece flower (Persicaria filiformis 'Lance Corporal') and was actually given (at only mild hinting) three to take away (thanks, Lisa!). I love the spotted leaves and tall delicate pink spikes of flowers. Also note the yellow window on the shed; it's an old wooden-frame window Lisa had been saving to make a cold frame, but finally realized that wasn't going to happen and painted it and hung it on her shed. Brilliant! I, too, have an old window (snatched from someone's trash!) in my own shed, that I admitted this spring was never going to turn into a cold frame... and my shed is vinyl and as boring as can be--what a perfect solution. I think mine will be painted orange or purple!

I love the stripey foliage of this aloe, not to mention its great pink flowers. And look how nice that blue-green succulent ties in the blue pot. These type of color combos never dawn on me, and Lisa is very good with them.

Not only do I love the greyish purple color of Lisa's shed (it's also the color of my front door), it's pure genius to have mounted this vintage chicken coop on the wall. Look, there's even a chicken in it!! Lisa's garden had much whimsy. I love whimsy but I'm not one for cutesy, and thus have always had a hard time finding accessories for my garden. I was very inspired at Greenbow--Lisa uses a lot of "found" objects that add her personal touch, but they lean to artsy/creative, not cute, and I love that she is re-purposing old things.

Luna wants you to notice the subtle interplay of whites and greens in this bed. Note the white edges of hosta, the white bird cage, and grey concrete pot, and, for a limited time only, the wonderful white fluff of Luna herself.

A fearie terrarium (did Lisa know I was coming? Oh, wait, she did! HA!) adds whimsy inside Lisa's home. (She has a much better photo of it here.)

Next, we left Greenbow Gardens and Lisa then took us on a tour of a private garden of a friend of hers and her husband's. The place was incredibly unbelievable, looking more like a small botanical garden than a home garden. Very large space, all fully planted, with many different sections and themes.

Here's Lisa in her favorite spot in this garden, the shady bench nook.

Look how tall the elephant ears are!

I really felt the impatiens looked like a river or flowing water, but it doesn't come across in the photo so much.

I love Nessie (or Asian equivalent) here in the path, which feels like a river.

Keep in mind, this is a home garden. (!!!)

I love the combination of arid and tropical sun lovers in this bed.

Colorful view when leaving the garden.

Lisa took us for a little tour around Vincennes, which is a quaint town. We even crossed a bridge into Illinois (and into the Central time zone!) and got a view of the George Rogers Clark Memorial (the largest Memorial Monument west of Washington, DC) in Vincennes from across the river.

She also treated us to blueberry tea and the best lemon cookies ever. Thanks for your hospitality and garden inspiration, Lisa!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Seven Things Meme

Aunt Debbi invited her readers to participate in the Seven Things You Don't Know About Me meme, and I decided to play!
  1. I didn't speak English when I started kindergarten.
  2. I haven't owned tennis shoes in 20 years. I just don't like how they feel on my feet!
  3. I am both a total rule follower and someone who often goes her own way.
  4. I'd rather speak to 300 people than to six (one audience versus six individuals).
  5. I am very independent, but I marvel and envy that people can find a compatible life partner.
  6. I have no idea what my next job will be.
  7. My culinary tastes are extremely broad, but I absolutely hate olives. All olives, even the one you swear is going to be different! 7.b. I'm a serious chocoholic, but my favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla (Stroh's) and my favorite shake/malt flavor strawberry.
Participate if the mood hits you. I'd be especially interested in hearing from Esther, Lisa of Greenbow, MrBrownThumb, Nutty Gnome, Randy, and Sweetbay. No pressure and you don't have to tag others.