Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Feel Bad About My Vinca

Penstemon calycosus in the GOBN
...and the other invasive plants in my garden. 

If I didn't fight it the vincas would overrun the GOBN
I really do. I haven't been able to get rid of it.  I've tried, but, it's even more tap-rooted to this garden than I am. Even if I hired a crew to work sunup to sundown on eradication they would never finish.  Removing invasives in this garden is like painting a really long bridge, just as you finish it's time to start all over again. 
Luckily for me,  previous owners did not pesticide away the wildflowers
I have a theory that way back when this neighborhood was first established home owners tried hard to grow the perfect 1950s green grass.  When they realized that the shallow soil meant no lawn would ever grow they all planted Vinca major and Vinca minor to create a swath of green.  At the time it was the perfect marriage of evergreen foliage  for the lawn enthusiast and  pretty blue flower for the flower enthusiast. That was 50 years before conservation biologists talked about invasive exotics in Middle Tennessee.  Back then gardeners still believed that many of the wildflowers that we all find charming were weeds and pesticided (an active and destructive verb) them out of their lawns and understory. 
Plant clover and you'll get lucky~bees and four-leaved clovers
Way back when, and I mean, way, way back when,  gardeners were encouraged to use all manner of exotics to tame erosion.  There was little, if any, thought to long term consequences.  That's how we got stuck with Kudzu and countless other 'useful and pretty plants and critters'.
April in the Garden of Benign Neglect.  The purple teteur lives peacefully with the vinca!
The vincas and I have reached detente in the back garden.  There aren't enough resources at Clay and Limestone to wage a full out war! It's an impossible mission.  Instead, I've drawn a boundary and they cannot cross over.  Of course, I must patrol the area, but, I can live with that for now...But, you know,  I still feel bad about my vinca and other invasives.


xxoo
Gail


Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone." She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

24 comments:

  1. Don't feel bad about things you didn't plant. Now, if you were dumb enough (like me) to plant the invasive exotics, then you're entitled to feel guilty.
    BTW, I like the word "pesticided."

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    1. Thanks Barb, we just cannot do it all. I like pesticided, too. xo

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  2. I feel bad for you, Gail, and for myself since we also have both of those vincas plus the Dutch clover. It is the Vinca major that is the thuggiest thug here, however. It climbs trees and covers large shrubs. Luckily we don't have Kudzu!
    xoxoxo
    Frances

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  3. I can relate, Gail. I'm much more careful now, but I have planted a few invasives over the years. I've moved from the homes where those gardens were, but the lessons came with me into new gardens. I'm not sure the new owners really cared, or knew about the regrets I left behind in their gardens, vinca being one of them. It's still a much-loved cover for some green, and pretty spring blooms in gardens all over our area. I'm constantly battling back our neighbor's English ivy. One gardener's idea of beauty can so easily become another one's nightmare. A client with 30-year-old trumpet vine has it popping up between pavers, cracking her foundation and sidewalks, and it's become the nightmare of the neighborhood as it continues its spread into yards three and more houses away. Seeing that made me realize even natives can become problems without easy solutions.

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  4. I guess that's one good thing about living in an arid climate--many things that are invasive in other parts of the country are not at all so here. A couple of exceptions would be Bermuda grass and trumpet vine, both of which I battle each year. Vinca's not much of a problem, though.

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  5. That garden looks perfectly serene and pleasant. Here the vinca can be controlled so it is not as big a problem. I have planted some regrets in the garden but we learn more from our mistakes than our successes.

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  6. I have several things that I can't eradicate from the garden. Let me count the ways I hate them. Autumn clematis (UGH!), obedient plant, bindweed, and so many others. I didn't plant them all. Some rode in on other things.~~Dee

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  7. Awareness is the first step. At least you know those plants are bad in your climate. What gives me shivers is thinking that some plant we think is perfectly innocuous (as our forefathers in horticulture thought about the invasives we battle) will turn out to be the next problem child.

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  8. I regret planting most vines except the well-behaved varieties of clematis. They all grow too quickly and then I am pulling them off of everything as a weekly chore throughout the growing season. At a previous house (20 years ago), I also planted vinca because that was a "regular" groundcover. Fortunately, it didn't like the location!

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  9. Please shed no tears for vinca.

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  10. I like your analogy about painting a long bridge... It is a never-ending battle. It's hard, too, when invasives play a role in the garden. I sort of regret digging up all the eleagnus shrubs along the property line, because they provided a good screen for the neighbors.

    Just found out today our neighbor, whose yard slopes down into ours, has hired a "landscape" firm to Roundup all the ivy and vinca covering his yard. It makes me almost ill. I pray they don't choose to spray herbicides on a windy day or right before a rain.

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    Replies
    1. Sheila, Oh, no....I sure hope they aren't that dumb to spray on a windy day.

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  11. I've been battling white gooseneck loosestrife for several years and doubt I'll ever win. The best I can do it keep it in check. I even dug up the entire bed looking for roots but some were so entangled in the phlox, I couldn't get them all out. At least it's a pretty thug!

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  12. Haha, i wonder what type of vinca they are, because they are planted as ornamentals in other gardens. Just like our Mimosa which are ornamentals also in cold climates. And to set the analogy, if your vinca irradication meter is the Golden Gate Bridge, our Mimosa irradication meter is triple that, because even the left roots will shoot easily! Add to that our Cyperus rotondus weeds, that is even quintuple your meter!

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  13. I have several islands of vinca in my central Ohio garden, and one is being overtaken by violets, another by cinquefoil.

    The most invasive plant I have is lesser celandine, sent to me many years ago as a tiny slip in a small white cardboard box by the Southern garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence. She warned me it was invasive, so I planted it on a bank along the driveway. Now it has taken over the woods, immigrated to the vegetable garden, driven the native ginger from my little wild garden planted in the filled cellar hold of the former summer kitchen. I had written her that I visited Mr. Krippendorf's garden, now a property of the Cincinnati Parks system, and enjoyed seeing the celandine throughout his woods. Well, now I have it throughout mine. I must admit that my woods were not home to lots of great wildflowers anyway since I sold the old sugar road to neighbors for a right of way. Their drive took out the trillium and erythronium. Oddly, it has minimal presence on the driveway bank, which is dominated by aconite and snowdrops.

    Trumpet vine was here when we moved in back in 1971, and it has become a familiar pest in certain areas. Its one starring role in the landscape was about ten years ago when it climbed a tall dead tree on the creek bank and created a red crown of flowers with attendant humming birds.

    My own worst decision was to plant some English Ivy--what was I thinking--around some holly. I guess I was thinking, "The Holly and the Ivy," how quaint. It has not gotten far, but not from not trying. It usually gets about three feet up on siding before I catch it, and sometimes it covers a third of the front porch floor.

    I guess the fact is, neglect is not usually benign.

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  14. Some idiot planted chameleon plants in the vinca, so I have three varieties to deal with.

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  15. Seems you are not in this situation alone dear Gail. I am fighting the Obedient plant like Dee....it does no good to give them boundaries...they are like dogs. They dig and go under the fence.

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  16. I picture you, like Gandalf with his walking stick, at the edge of the garden telling the vinca, "You shall not pass".

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  17. I think we all have to live with the effects of bad decisions from the past. I don't have vinca, fortunately, but I'm already regretting planting that one Obedient plant:) You're wise to declare a truce with your vinca; the GOBN looks lovely, even with its invasive resident. Love your new verb!

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  18. to tame erosion - that is how South Africa got Australian acacias, and how we battle with them now!

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  19. Well, despite the invasives your garden looks lovely. I think you're taking a sane approach to an ongoing problem. We have a whole "invasives garden" as I have come to think of it--honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, mimosa trees, kudzu all living happily together. Happily, it is far away from my real gardens.

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  20. Gail,
    Oh dear, I'm afraid I know exactly what you mean about vinca (our Piedmont garden is FULL of it). But all we can do is eliminate what we can in our garden, and live with them popping up here and there. Vinca is one of the toughest to be sure, re-emerging from under heavy wood-chip mulch, etc.

    It's been great to get rid of the ivy, honeysuckle, and privet in our ravine forest behind our small house in the mountains (thanks to my gardening companion). It's a much more pleasing view!
    LIsa

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  21. Those of us with a love for plants are a little crazy in this way. I always feel guilty when tearing things out of my garden that are quite determined to grow there. I must rein in my lamium, and into the compost bin will grown large quantities of this lovely plant. Shall I say a eulogy over it?

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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