Saturday, November 06, 2010
Extended Massive Organism
One of the tasks we're tackling, living in this house, is the scourge of the violet.
Wild violets grow in this yard like...well, like weeds. Which is what they are. I think there was a little patch of them in one of the beds when we first moved into this house in 1989, and I think my mom has been fighting the spread of the dread violet ever since. And they're not even the pretty kind of violet; they don't even get nice flowers or anything. As you can see, the violets are a formidable enemy. They propagate by sending runners above the ground or below the ground via a connected root system, and they turn up just about everywhere.
The violets are also a bit creepy because every new plant that comes up puts up the new leaves as weird crumpled pod-like things before they unfurl into leaves. I'd already pulled most of the violets in one of the beds before I took the photos, but you can get an idea of what they look like here. (Also, you can get an idea of the amount of insect life in this yard. Each of these beds is full of earthworms, snails, slugs, and sow bugs, not to mention ants, spiders, and all sorts of other things. It's a good thing I'm not wigged out by multiple-legged, wiggly, or single-footed organisms.)
Violets come up in every nook, cranny, crack, and crevice in just about every part of the yard here. They even split the railing of the bed, as you can see in this photo, and because the root systems come up from inside the wood I can't even get a good enough grasp on them to pull them out. I'm convinced that all of these violets are clones of each other and there's some sort of extended root system that exists all over the yard, the sentient creature putting up babies everywhere to see where they might catch hold next.
It's not enough to pull up a violet by the root, because there are so many runners under the ground in addition to the ones above the soil. I'm practically going to have to completely replace the soil in one of the beds in order to get rid of the violets in it, and I have no idea how I'll get rid of the ones that grow between the stepping stones along the pathways. Maybe it will be a losing battle, and the Borg Violet Collective will win this match.
The violets are not the only things attempting to take over the yard. The blackberry brambles, which have likewise tried to take root on our property for over twenty years now, have been sneaking in underneath the back fence from a neighbor's yard. Blackberries are prickly and painful, so you have to wear thick gloves when trying to remove them, and they send out surface and root runners as well. We pulled some out of the back lawn this afternoon, in addition to catching the latest runner on the move, complete with multiple root clumps every few feet.
We had a few days of rain last week, and afterward, mushrooms popped up all over the place.
You know what else pops up after a rain? Sour grass.
It looks like clover, but it isn't clover. I can pull it out by the roots multiple times, and it just. keeps. growing. I've weeded the same bed six times in the last two weeks, and every day there are more sour grass shoots to be yanked. I think this is a losing battle, but for now I'm going to do my best to at least keep the weeds at a few inches tall rather than a foot or more.
(Not pictured: the morning glory that has been making a valiant effort to grow over everything in one part of the yard, including up every tree, fence, along every railing, and across every flower bed, since it was planted back in 1990. At least the morning glory is easy to pull out and pull up, and some times of the year it puts out pretty flowers. I am starting to think that maybe we should just let the violets, the blackberry, the sour grass and the morning glory duke it out for King of the Yard. When the winner meets the mint plant in the front yard, watch out, world!)