Summer At Last, by Hanne Lore Koehler
Perhaps it’s because we have to keep our sense of humor or else we might go stark raving mad, but I find many of us who endeavor to work with Mother Nature and the seasons as we attempt to coax flowers and food-stuffs from the ground are quite a funny bunch.
Case in point: recently found this years-old comment stream on a board about what to do with Goutweed, also commonly called Bishop’s Weed or Snow-on-the-Mountain. I sometimes contemplate growing a clump in a large container under one of my Spruce trees that line the front sidewalk, but then I always reconsider when reminded of its invasive tendencies.
This morning, sitting in my wee home office creating lists, drawing maps, and researching gardening tips, I found myself roaring with overflowing laughter… from a gardening board! How unexpected is that?!
Mind you, before I share some of my favorite comments here, please be forewarned that I do have a kooky sense of humor. Perhaps due to my parenting years, when I discovered that being goofy and cracking up in laughter were much better than, well, cracking up mentally. Plus, as an added bonus, as anyone who has parented (or aunt/uncled) teenagers knows, acting silly to watch them get embarrassed is great fun! Ended up helping both my sons have easy humor and thick skins, plus the ability to shrug things off with an ‘oh MOM’ or my favorite (from my eldest when he was about 17) ‘And my friends think I make these things up!’
But I digress. Gardeners and their sense of humor likely come from a similar source. Sometimes if we don’t laugh we might cry. How many plants do we excitedly plant in what we hope is the right location with the correct soil and offer the adequate moisture requirements for our new babies, only to have them never return? Plants considered ‘tough’ on many lists can still disappear from my Spruce tree, moisture-starved garden, in spite of only seeking out the toughest and most drought-tolerant species. One can only shrug it off, and continue to focus on the plants that chose to stay. I love you guys! A great old saying I enjoy is ‘I love tough plants. They make me feel like I’m a good gardener!’
Hence the sense of humor.
Combined with my admiration for tough performers that return every spring. I cheerfully welcome them: Hello YOU! And then I notice a neighbor nearby hopping into their car and slamming the door shut, no doubt shaking their head about me and my one-sided conversations alone amidst my garden. Yes, I can often be heard talking aloud in my garden… to birds, butterflies, bees and ants… to returning plant friends and cursed plant foes. I can’t help it. Being in my garden is not a passive thing for me, it is an active, proactive process. And proves, to me at least, that yes plants indeed do much better when they are talked to.
‘Goutweed’ aegopodium podagraria
Here are excerpts from a fun comment stream about Goutweed:
Begun by Amanda in 2004:
For as long as I can remember, there has been these “weeds” that pop up constantly in my mostly-shady bed by the house. They are even in the cracks of the sidewalk near there, and even under the house! I mentioned it to my mother yesterday, since I know she battled it when she lived here, and she said it was not a weed, but a plant that someone planted before they bought the house almost 30 years ago! Despite pulling it, spraying it, trying to smother it, for almost 30 years, it lives. She said it was called snow-something, so I searched around on “snow”, “invasive” and “underground,” since that’s how it spreads, and I eventually found it. Aegopodium podagraria: snow-on-the-mountain or goutweed. So yes, someone actually unleashed this beast in my garden. I tried smothering it this year with several layers newspaper and a heavy layer of mulch and it worked for about two weeks, but we’ve had a couple days of rain and more of these things are bursting through by the minute. How can I kill this stuff without killing everything else in the bed?
I hope you enjoy my selection of a few of the replies:
Last summer we build a 12×16 family room onto our home. I dug out all the GOOD plants and left the snow on the mountain for the contractors to deal with…they had to excavate the area..they tramped on it…plastic was put over ground to stop moisture and the addition was BUILT over it. Several months later, hubby had to go under to run some phone line…guess what was still growing!!!
I keep watching for it to come up through the floor boards and carpet! I do think that stuff came from outer space on a meteor or UFO. Probably a UFO..their idea of a joke on us for sending all those signals into space. My advice to you….MOVE… LOL! April
I’ve used Roundup on all kinds of weeds. When they are close to other plants, I use a small paint brush. Sometimes I had to ‘paint’ it a few times, but after a couple of tries, it would die. I never use a spray with Roundup, I’m too afraid it’ll get on me! They say to use it on a calm day, well we have very few calm days. So ‘painting’ the weeds has worked the best for me. Good luck on getting rid of it! Kat
An alternative to spraying Round-up is the ‘Hand of Death’. Put two nitrile gloves on. Dunk your hand in a bucket of Roundup. Grab the plant, and say thrice: “I smite thee with the hand of death!”
(and so does the paintbrush, but not as much fun.)
This was from Bug_Girl_MI in May 2004 and began many posters sharing their joy of this suggestion! And was my first head-thrown-back guffaw of the stream!
LOL, Bug Girl! My neighbors will be so impressed. Just for fun, I’ll wear the gloves everywhere and threaten to smite anyone who offends me. ;)
We have both the variegated variety and the plain green variety of goutweed. While we will probably never get rid of it, we go out every day and pick anything visible. (Sometimes I eat it — it is a potherb and tastes a bit like lettuce. My Chinese neighbours use it that way all the time — also as a medicinal herb.)
Yes, I would imagine it’s totally controllable in a pot or planter. I guess a person would have to make sure its branches didn’t touch the ground and start a renegade colony in the ground. (I have planted my mint in the ground, but inside huge pots… Of course, it escaped and now it’s growing everywhere…)
It’s so funny to think of mint “escaping” from pots… I just picture a little mint plant, dressed like a prisoner, plotting its getaway. Wasn’t the alien in “The Thing” (or maybe it was “The Body Snatchers”) really a plant that was trying to take over the earth? Maybe it was a goutweed from another planet :-)
(And then Janniet posted this!)
This is an incredibly funny thread and should be revived here in 2010.
I too had a tiny patch of this alien under a 50+ year old silver maple, which had to be taken down. I foolishly let the small two foot by 4 inch high patch survive. I have been doing penance for six years in an attempt to keep it from taking over in a FULL SUN, unwatered area in our very xeric climate. Today I am going out there to paint roundup on those leaves for the fourth time this month, but this time I am taking our full spectrum light and holding over each section for about 15 minutes at close range. I remember that roundup requires sunshine to encourage the victim plants to take up the active ingredient. It “worked” on a small patch when I roundup-nuked the whole patch last month. It is important to cut off the flower stalks, too, before they go to seed before, during and after you nuke it.
Remember to wear sunglasses, gloves, long sleeved shirt and pants, socks and solid shoes for yourself, you don’t want to get sunburned. Also remember to have your spouse or neighbor take pictures of you as you do this in 90 degree weather. These will form the instructions to future generations at your home in how to combat the aliens at ground level (Note, not WIN, but only combat) and provide your progeny with proof that you are insane.
I will add the intonation of “I smite thee with the Hand of Death” as I perform this ceremony in full ceremonial dress and think of each of you as I do so.
Tell Ma, I died game.
(I nearly died laughing!)
So just remember, the next time you see a gardener hunched over in their yard weeding and planting and whatnot, feel free to stop and comment on their garden.
They’ll undoubtedly look up at you and smile. Gardeners LOVE to talk about anything garden-related. Don’t be afraid to interrupt their conversations with annoying slugs or beloved perennials.
After all, you might discover that this neighbour just so happens to be the funniest person on the block!