I spent the morning digging Bermuda grass out of one of the half-circle flower beds along the front ramp. It seems as if I’ve done this same cleanup in this same garden several times before, and no wonder — I have. I’ve done the fall cleanup three years in a row, as well as pulling weeds at various times during the summer each of those years. I gave up a couple of months ago, and oh, my. What a horror! Thick grass with three- and four-foot stolons and me with bad knees.
It’s actually easier to dig up an entire bed than to dig around existing plants, but I keep hoping those existing plants — daylilies — will spread and multiply and take over the whole garden. So far, it hasn’t happened.
I’m considering doing something else next year — perhaps not plant anything and wait to see what comes up. Tulips will come up, I hope, and after they die back, I’m sure the larkspur will also come up. Around here, larkspur is a short-lived plant, so after I’ve cleared out the dead stalks, I’ve been planting other things to fill in the garden while the daylilies decide what they want to do.
Maybe it’s not that important to have flowers in the front all season. Maybe it’s more important to baby the daylilies and try to keep the garden free of grass for a year and see what happens. (I suppose I could buy a grass killer that’s made especially for flower gardens, but I hesitate to fill my yard with chemicals, and anyway, it’s almost impossible to kill Bermuda grass.)
A few days ago, I wrote about gardening being an all-encompassing creative endeavor, using mind, eyes, hands, heart, and body. It’s also very much a learning experience, which makes it a good project for me because above everything else, I love to learn.
And today’s lesson was all about Bermuda grass. I have a first-hand knowledge of the weed from my efforts to contain the grass the past couple of years, but there is still much I didn’t know. It turns out the scientific name for Bermuda grass is Cynodon dactylon, though it goes by many names besides Bermuda grass, such as quickgrass, twitch grass, and couch grass. It is a weed found all over the world, probably originating in sub-Saharan Africa or perhaps on islands in the western parts of the Indian Ocean. It’s called Bermuda grass because it was introduced to the USA via Bermuda. Although around here, Bermuda grass is used for lawns because of its tolerance for sun and heat, it is considered one of the world’s most invasive weeds, one moreover, that is almost impossible to get rid of.
So, despite having learned all that about my nemesis, it certainly doesn’t help me any in trying to get rid of it. That stuff is truly scary. Even though I have a weed barrier underneath the rocks around the house and my pathways, the Bermuda grass pokes it way to the sun. And if it can’t poke through the barrier, it will grow from far beneath the path and emerge along the edges, which makes it impossible to get rid of. Sure, I can dig it up, but because I can’t get to the origin of the root, it just grows back.
Eventually, I’m sure, I’ll have to make some sort of accommodation with the relentless stuff, but if I give up the fight, I’ll end up with a huge mess.
That brings me back to the beginning premise of this essay, and my musing about not planting anything in this particular garden and see if dedicating myself to the task of clearing out the weed will help. Actually, I’m sure it will — until next year when I go back to planting and watering that garden. Then, all the bits of roots and stolons and seeds and biological detritus that I couldn’t completely eradicate, will erupt into new plants, and I’ll be back where I started from.
Still, things do manage to grow despite the horror of the gardening world. In fact, speaking of larkspur as I did above, I found these two dainty flowers today.
What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?
A fun book for not-so-fun times.
Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.