When I moved into my house less than two years ago there were so many conifers you couldn’t even see the exterior. And so, while the decision literally made me sick to my stomach, and involved much deliberation and many tears, I authorized a local tree service to cut down the majority of the ones in the front and along the sides of the house so that my hubby and I could secure homeowner’s insurance. After that, I am sure you can imagine just how many bald spots we suddenly had on our hands.
I’m going to come out and admit that I have no idea what I’m doing in my garden, and this was never more apparent than in the way I dealt with the loss of those pines. Driven by impulse and a need to nudge nature along, I just started planting without any rhyme or reason in order to supplement the pitiful, struggling ivy that had been fighting to survive beneath those trees for years—not acting any better than the person who had foolishly planted such giants there in the first place. It seemed like a good idea at the time to get ahead of the weeds but I was making terrible mistakes.
The most severe of these came to light this spring: As soon as last year’s perennials and this season’s weeds broke through the earth to meet the sun, I discovered I was overrun by an army of purple-green seedlings (numbering, it seems, in the tens of thousands). At first, I thought maybe they were returning herbs but when they didn’t smell, the reality of their true identity hit me deep in the gut; they were the evil spawn of some random plant my sister had reluctantly given me the year before with a warning that it would spread. But, just like a naïve horror film heroine, I threw caution to the wind and blindly put it in my garden without even knowing what it was (and, admittedly and stupidly, I still don’t).
I had known about invasive species for years. I have friends who work as conservationists and I’ve always been conscientious myself. So, how could I let this happen? The answer is mere impatience and carelessness; even ego. Still, as I pull these and other weeds out of the ground, what begins as smoldering frustration, eventually gives way to contentment at simply being out in nature and daydreaming about what my garden will one day become. And, of course, there are the little victories, too: For every 10-20 of those little gremlin-like suckers I rip from the soil there is a new columbine or black-eyed Susan that will add beauty to my world.