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On Weeding and Roots

(post, Elizabeth Krueger)

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,–
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

From God’s Garden by Dorothy Frances Gurney

My paternal grandmother had a plaque with that verse on it, hanging in her farm house, although as I think of it, it could easily have been my grandfather’s.  She did the flower gardening, and he had a large vegetable garden at their farm.  Either way, I resonate with the sentiment and am reminded of my gardening roots when I spend time working on my yard.

I got a dose of garden therapy today.  I spent some quality time weeding in my yard, in ideal conditions – warm in the sun, cool in the shade, an occasional light breeze.  I had birdsong, punctuated by the occasional meowing of a neighbor’s cat (sounded like a Siamese) and barking of another neighbor’s dog.  In the distance was the sound from the elementary school playground.  When I became too engrossed in the weeds, I was reminded by a grumbling sound from Phoebe (my Boston Terrier) of her need to have a ball thrown.  I stayed close to the ground - focused on the weeds and trying to carefully remove the weeds from one area.  As a result, today I got to see up close the fascinating and appalling number of ways oxalis (the Bermuda buttercup type - Oxalis</em>pes<em>caprae) can propagate itself: through the tiny spiny bulbs off the roots, through the bulbs that form from the flowers, and by spreading/creeping along the ground.  They also appear to spread through the air somehow, as they keep appearing as tiny little starts in my raised garden beds. Yikes!  Their cheerful yellow flowers may look nice as groundcover on a roadway hillside, but they are horribly invasive and almost impossible to get out of a garden, especially when they’ve been allowed to take hold in an area.

Without digging up the entire yard and sifting the soil to remove all bulbs, or using an aggressive campaign of weed-killer, I’m going to have years of weeding therapy from the oxalis.  There are too many trees and plants in my yard that I want to keep, and I won’t use toxic products in the yard, so I will have an ongoing battle to try to get the oxalis under control.

I also have areas of allium triquetrum_ (which I thought was called wild garlic, but seems actually to be more commonly know as three-cornered leek) still left to be pulled (it’s also very invasive), and the field bindweed is starting to come up.  Pulling the three-cornered leek is also great therapy, as it takes a fair amount of force to yank the plant, bulbs and all, from the ground.