After waiting what seemed like an inordinately long period of time for our new back fence to be installed...the one that will give us more privacy from the house next door...I finally decided to weed the long fence line. I was intending to wait to do this job...the builder next door has promised to raise our fence two feet in height, and then placing the fence directly on our property line, giving us two feet of extra space from where the fence is situated now.
But con- struction has its own time line, whereas weeds don't wait for anyone. They were taking over the shrubs and plants, pulling at them and obliterating some of them. The extra two feet would have made this job far easier; however, I could no longer wait for empty promises...the weed situation was becoming drastic.
Buttercups and Bindweed, Fire Weed and Horsetail, Blackberry Vines and wild Geraniums...all of them were having a heyday along the fence line. They were tangled amongst the climbing Roses, the Lilacs, the Sweet Gum tree and the Lavender...insidious baby seedlings, looking innocuous and gentle...and very, very lush. And some were robust adults, beautiful and in their prime.
I don't like weeding. Not because of the work involved, but because these weeds look so healthy and fine. In many instances, they look better than the cultivated plants and shrubs, with nary any insect or disease damage.
And most of them have healing properties, of one kind or another. I drink Horsetail tea, and young Blackberry leaves dry well, to be used with other herbs in a tea, for Winter's Flu Season.
Horsetail, aka Mare's Tail, Bottle Brush, Fairy Spindle...is really an amazing plant! This plant absorbs silica from the soil. The Romans used it to clean their cooking utensils...not just to cleanse them, but also to make them non-stick, thanks to the silica. As well, it's used to scour pewter, brass and copper, after its stems are dried. I drink a commercial brand, for its astringent qualities for the urinary system and mild diuretic qualities; it's also used in prostate woes.
This plant is left over from prehistoric times, surviving almost unchanged. Horsetail is a permanent resident in my garden; only vigilance, on my part, keeps it somewhat controlled. Its root systems have been found to extend 40 feet; the plant requires no watering, no pests mar its leaves, and it cares not that the weather is foul and not conducive to growing much.
It's been associated with various Goblins, Toads and Snakes, over the years. The Goblins and Toads are residing here; I have yet to see a Snake on my plot of land...a creature very sorely missed. More information about the plant is found here.
As working amongst the plants will do for me, I quickly lost track of the greater world around me, becoming absorbed in freeing Lady Lavender, Peony, Rhododendron Bushes and Rose Bushes from the intruders that threatened to choke their roots and their branches. Bindweed, aka Morning Glory, will sometimes hold up a Clematis vine; when I break the tie to its roots, more than once the whole plant has fallen over.
Morning Glory is tough; this long vine has been used, in a pinch, for string...although I would not recommend it...a tiny piece of that innocent looking, long string like root will grow and grow and grow, covering large areas, even finding niches in the siding of houses to travel through walls...
The white perfection of the Morning Glory blossom is seductive...it makes me want to see more, and sometimes I will allow it to grow, to my everlasting regret. It will choke the life out of any plant, in very short order. But those blossoms...in a certain light, their breathtaking whiteness, like a spiritual trumpet calling angelic troops to order...Morning Glory can hold its own against any well-bred beauty.
Each time my hoe rips a piece of vine from under the soil, I know that there are many more feet of the root, hiding, waiting for me to be gone, when once again, it will circle and twine, wrapping and smothering its host, if I do not use vigilance and awareness.
But, as I clear the weeds, I remember those blossoms with longing, remembering the days when I lived on acreage, when a stack of wood or forgotten stump, covered with this green, green vine and white blossoms, took such a grip on my heart. Even against all dire warnings.
Buttercup...is there anything as cheerful as the yellow, shining face of the Buttercup blossom? But this spreading plant has a very strong root system, and travels by runners, much like a Strawberry plant. Each time the runner touches the soil...a new plant grows. And on it goes, until the soil is covered with those cheerful, yellow blossoms. But Buttercup is also insidious...her roots become tangled among the roots of the cultivated plants, finally choking the life out of it.
As my hoe dug deep, as I bent down to wiggle a root out of the earth, as I cleared...once more the cultivated plants shone...and I had a pile of green matter for the compost. Great stuff...but inside I still felt uneasy, I still felt a loss, as I glanced at that green pile, wilting now in the hot Sun.
All things are one. I have just eradicated a part of me.
But I am strange... as I weeded... I consciously left some rootlets behind...I made sure a new generation of "weeds" would visit again. Just in case. Just in case one day I may require the largely undiscovered benefits these plants have.
Respect for the plants, in my belief system, means I do not destroy every "weed" that grows near me. Understanding of the plant system, its growing habits, and its benefits tells me what I can live with so I can leave a few new beginnings...
Sense tells me I cannot let every plant in my small garden run rampant. I must show control, if I intend to have a garden.
And so, respect and sense find a balance...an uneasy, difficult one, to be sure.
But a balance, nonetheless.