Tag Archives: weeds

Prime time for Plant Pests

Prime: adj. first in time, first in significance

Plant: n. vegetation

Pest: n. a plant or animal detrimental to humans or human concerns (as agriculture or livestock production)

Plant Pest invading my asparagus bed.

Plant Pest invading my asparagus bed.

I posted this unidentified plant pest last week and asked for help identifying it, so I could figure out how to attack it.

A sharp-eyed reader suggested that my plant pest was actually a lovely wildflower known as the marsh marigold or cowslip (Caltha palustris).  And indeed the picture looked right.

But the description of its behavior didn’t match. The marsh marigold stays green all summer; mine disappears by June. The marsh marigold isn’t considered invasive.

Mine is DEFINITELY invasive. It’s not just in my asparagus bed now, it’s cozying up to a rose bush and I just found a plant in the midst of my ground cover by the front door.

I googled “marsh marigold” and “invasive” together and bingo! What is flourishing in my yard is the Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria). In the olden days it was known as “pilewort” and used to treat hemorrhoids (piles) because its tubers looked like them. (Well, it made medical  sense back then…)

Removal will take persistence over several years because it spreads by every possible means: stem nodes AND seeds AND  deeply rooted tiny tubers. The tubers are attached to the plant by the slimmest of long root hairs, and when you dig you break the root hairs and the tubers just smirk in their dark hiding places.

Despite my normally organic practices I’m going to hit it with Roundup tomorrow – giving it 24 hours to be absorbed to the roots (I hope), and then I’m going to do my best to rout them with my shovel. Wish me luck.

Potent or poppycock: a feng shui cure too strong?

Potent: possessing strength or power

Poppycock: senseless talk (from Dutch pappekak, meaning soft dung, if you know what I mean)

Last week I was clearing out a drawer and came upon a small compact mirror for which I had no use. I was about to give it the heave-ho when I remembered that it could be used for a feng shui cure.

Here’s the feng shui cure: when you have negative energy coming at your home from outside (like from a problem neighbor, noisy traffic, etc), you tape a small mirror on the wall with the shiny side facing towards that negative energy with the intent of warding it off by reflecting it back out.

My next door neighbors to the south are perfectly nice people, but they are renting the house and the owners live up in Seattle. Neither the renters nor the owners seem to give a rip about the condition of the house or yard. For ten years the place has become increasingly unkempt.

I haven’t been in the house, but the shades are all wonky and the garage is stuffed to the rafters with cardboard boxes and garbage bags full of who knows what. That’s their problem.

My problem is that their yard is completely overgrown with noxious weeds – blackberry, dandelions, ivy and a big thicket of Canada thistle. All of them are getting into my yard. The thistle is the worst because it spreads underground as well as by wind-born seed – and it’s nearly impossible to kill.

Which brings me to yesterday.

I was sitting at my desk, with a view of the street, when suddenly I hear a fire engine rumbling up the hill, siren wailing. It stops at the end of my driveway. Then another one arrives. And three more! Within a couple of minutes the joint is jumping – I counted 23 firemen in full regalia at one point – some clambering over this neighbor’s house, some hauling hose, some standing around pointing or talking on a cell phone.

My neighbor was up on the roof with a puny garden hose, trying to douse the flames. It turns out he had been burning cardboard in the fireplace (WTF?? especially since we have curbside recycling). The chimney is uncapped and the roof is (old, dry) wood shake. A formula for disaster.

With 23 young bucks on the case (why are firemen always so cute? Is that a job requirement?), the fire was put out before it destroyed more than the attic and part of the roof. No one was hurt and no important belongings were lost.

I certainly meant no harm – I just want the owners to sell the property to someone who will care for it. They’re coming down from Seattle to assess the damage this weekend. Here’s hoping they decide it’s time to let it go…

Perfection vs. Imperfection

I took these two photos about 20 feet apart in my back yard.

On the one hand, Gold Medal, a rose so perfect I want to weep looking at it.
And then a patch of weeds (one of many) so rampant I want to weep – in horror.

This is the face of nature. This is my life. Some parts so perfectly in order, others totally out of control.

I crave beauty, and both my yard and home have truly lovely sections. But both the yard and the house are too big for a single woman to keep up without significant help. Twice a year I spring for a major yard cleanup (the spring one coming up this week – YAY!) and three guys come in and do in one day what it would take me weeks to handle. The rest is up to me.

In this climate at this time of year, the weeds grow and proliferate at breathtaking speed. Once again I have to remember to apply the fifteen minute rule. Set the timer and just get out and work in an area for fifteen minutes. I tell my feng shui clients that it’s amazing what you can get done in just fifteen minutes – but I don’t always listen to my own wisdom…

In my non-gardening life, I’m great at starting projects, but maintaining them is something else. I have too many great ideas and not enough time, energy or money to take care of them in an on-going way. A few of them I go at full tilt and the result is pretty good (not quite perfection, but as close as I’ll probably get). A multitude of other projects showcase my imperfections – skeletal remains litter my workroom and lurk in the dusty corners of my crowded brain.


Proliferation: to grow by rapid production of new parts, cells, buds, or offspring; to reproduce freely.

Proliferation was on my mind today as I forced myself to face my garden, where the weeds have been having their annual spring fling. The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the healthiest weeds I’ve ever seen. Dandelions are unusually vigorous this year – I’ve seen plants a foot tall, with a dozen huge cheery blooms from one deep root. Those spots of golden sunshine will soon be hundreds of tiny airborne seeds. Prevention by early digging is the key. I’m late.

Back inside, I discovered proliferation in the virtual realm:
I Googled myself.

Talk about reproducing freely!

The last time I looked myself up was maybe two years ago. Since then the search engine has found me in corners so dusty I’ve long forgotten them.

My current name, which I’ve had since 1982, has eight pages of listings. Of course some of those are for other people with the same name, and many of them are repeat versions of one or another thing I did or wrote or said in relatively public venues, but a surprising number are from sources that I had no idea would find their way to a Google search: a mass email address update from an acquaintance in 2001; comments I’ve made on someone else’s blog; contributions I made to political campaigns; annual reports from agencies where I’ve served on the board or some such.

So then I Googled my maiden name, a name I left behind in 1967. There were even a couple of entries there.

And I’m just a regular gal with a variety of interests. It’s troubling to discover how many threads of my life are out there for the world to follow (if they were so inclined). A private eye would find me in about two minutes.

How does one get rid of unwanted Google listings??? Or keep out of Google’s eye in the first place?

It must be possible, because recently I hit several brick walls when trying to track down a couple of high school classmates to invite them to a reunion. They were both fairly well-known in their fields; both men (so they didn’t lose their last names to marriage). One had a name that was so common as to be impossible to figure out which, if any, was the right one. The other simply wasn’t to be found.

I hate to stop doing anything public just because it adds to my already dubious dossier – what to do?