Cannibalism in the Garden

I had a productive but exhausting day, and I didn’t even get everything done that I wanted. I watered my plants — lawns, bushes, flowers. While doing that, I dug weeds. Afterward, I planted new snapdragons and destroyed older ones, though I didn’t mean to destroy the pretty flowers.

The snapdragons I planted last year were sold as annuals, but a couple of clumps came up again this year. The problem that I tried to rectify was that the clumps were so close they were almost on top of each other, and I thought they needed room to grow. I reached between the two clumps — one red and one pink — and definitely felt a division. So I tried to dig up the red clump, and both clumps came up. It turned out they had a single root. I didn’t know that was possible — I’d presumed that each color would have its own root system.

Since the flowers were out of the ground and would have to be replanted anyway, I went ahead and divided the root. I hope it’s early enough in the season that the roots will reestablish themselves. I gave them plenty of water, hoping that will help.

While I was outside, my neighbor brought me a bamboo plant she was going to throw away. It was a houseplant, and I wasn’t sure if it would survive in my yard, but I talked to someone recently who had some bamboo growing wild in the alley behind their house, so I thought I’d take a chance. The poor plant was tall and limp (since she was going to throw it away, she hadn’t watered it for a while), so I planted it, mulched it, and staked it.

The stake is a four-foot bamboo stake, which amuses me. It seems rather . . . cannibalistic. Sort of like the Silence of the Bamboo. Will the newly planted bamboo recoil in horror at being planted next to a dead stick of its own species? Or will it feel comfortable knowing it was being supported by its own kind?

I’m being factious, of course. Plants don’t have that sort of mental capacity, at least I don’t think they do. And anyway, the deed — cannibalistic or not — has been done. Now it’s a matter of waiting to see what will happen. The way I figure, either the bamboo will die or it will take over. I was going to plant it in a buried pot since that’s one way of keeping the bamboo from spreading, but I want it to spread a little, and supposedly, the invasion is easy enough to control if you cut back the new baby shoots in the spring. While researching bamboo after the fact (the fact of planting, that is), I learned that bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants — some species can grow thirty-five inches in a day and get 100 feet tall. Yikes! If this plant takes hold, maybe I’ll have to get a pet panda.

Yeah, right. As if I don’t have enough to do now!


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.