Monday, May 6, 2013

The Very Worst Gardening Conditions in the World?

Have you ever spent the better part of a day weeding?  That's what I did this past Saturday.  I felt alternately sorry for myself and glad that I had the time.  For much of the day, I struggled with a recurring inner dialogue/argument.  Surely here in Texas we have the worst weed problem and scariest gardening conditions in the world, with plenty of poisonous snakes and fire ants and meningitis-carrying mosquitos.  Even more certain is that my very own garden has the most challenging situation of all because of the pecan trees.  I pulled at least 100 of the little shoots from one flower bed alone, a low number in our books.
But at least the pecans can be pulled up fairly easily and mostly grow in beds near the trees.  Bermuda grass and nutsedge are among our worst offenders.  Bermuda grass sends shoots above and several inches below the surface.   If it infests a shrub, it's often easier to simply remove the shrub, especially if one's garden is organic.  Nutsedge is just annoying in its persistent abundance.  Then we have seasonal grasses, of course, and thistle and buttercups, but for me, the most scary is poison ivy, toxicodendron radicans.
I have an unreasonable fear of it, considering that I have never had a bad experience with it. But such a little plant as that above will find my gloved hands and arms covered in plastic trash bags as I gingerly pull it up.  The birds plant it on our property regularly; as long as we are diligent, it doesn't become a problem.  This weekend it wasn't so bad; I probably pulled about 15 little plants.   The most aggravating time for me was when I failed to notice that fire ants were all over my gloves and stinging their way up my arms. 
I always find myself surprised and rather amused at the notion of "sexy" gardeners, scantily clad, working in the shrubbery.  Here, one might go in looking nice, but come out looking warty!
But as the birds sang and a cool breeze blew and the flower beds looked neater and neater, I thought of the wonderful variety we enjoy and told myself that gardeners in other places would be quite indignant at the idea that maintaining their gardens is a piece of cake, that nature is tamer in their land than mine.  I know it's not so and I realize that, in all cases, it's all worth it.  Would I give up my time outdoors, with the flowers and herbs, birds and butterflies, to hide inside, afraid of my world?  No, I would not.  I shall be smart and pay attention and thereby not notice only the fire ants and poison ivy, but ladybugs, dragonflies, rosebuds and beansprouts.   And I will be grateful.



  1. It's a far cry from our relatively tame London garden! No pecans or poison ivy (or fire ants) though right now the magnolia is dropping petals all over the grass and the other flowers and flowering shrubs are all dressing themselves

  2. Hi, Richard! But your magnolia is stunning! I had no idea they could bloom like that in a colder climate. I also didn't realize that you realized that I write a gardening blog. You must know that had I picked up your book, there would have been no weeding accomplished this weekend. Yesterday I had a spare half hour and rather than pinching spent blooms, I sat in the garden reading. It was a wonderful way to spend some quiet time.

  3. Great post. I know too well the feel of biting fire ants, of careful poison ivy elimination, and of tree sprout removal (here, it's elm trees that sprout with abundance). And I often wonder if those that don't have Bermuda grass can ever understand its evil properties. But the wonder and joy of all the beauty and life is reward enough for all our hard work.

  4. Thank you, Holley! I know you can empathize! I appreciate that you describe Bermuda grass as "evil". It really is like a horror story, isn't it? But I agree -- the rewards of a garden are worth all our work.

  5. Hello Anastasia!
    I love your blog and I'm very happy to find a new garden friend. You know, even though we're not that close in distance, we still share a lot of similar problems (and joys!). Poison oak and rattle snakes are the scariest things here if you don't count the bears and lions. Just keep plugging along with those weeds. It's not a battle you can win, but you might be able to hold your own if you don't look too close.

  6. Welcome, Kate! Thank you for stopping by and also for your encouragement! I like to think that my garden has something in common with your awesome garden! Of course, bears and lions do win the scary contest hands down!

  7. I hopped over from Blooming Blogs to visit. I'd like to think the good things out number the bad things in the garden.

    1. Thank you for visiting, Linda! I do believe that the good outweighs the bad.

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