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E-Garden Almanac: News from the Garden: the loosestrife wars

E-Garden Almanac

The E-Garden Almanac is the push-button, real human journal of Kelly D. Norris. All errors, grammatic grievances, and opinions are that of the author. Kelly is a freelance writer and Master Gardener from southwest Iowa. His passion and obsession with horticulture, plants, and gardening embodies nearly every function of his life. The E-Garden Almanac serves as the web extension of his columns, articles, and lectures.
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Saturday, May 02, 2009

News from the Garden: the loosestrife wars

It seems like I blog less when it's gardening season, ironic (or maybe not) for a gardening blog. But boy do I have news to share today. The garden is thoroughly alive and in a place or two, at war. Yes, that's right--at war.

I suppose the loosestrife wars began long before I ever had the notion to start amassing my favorite Lysimachia. I know what some of you are thinking, "oh that silly boy, he's gone and planted those weedy loosestrifes and now they run amuck." Au contraire! In fact the loosestrife are on my side.

The loosestrife wars began with the installation of Saponaria officinalis, the common bouncing bet found naturalized in road ditches from Bedford to Philadelphia. It was purely innocent. A young, bright-eyed gardener took pity on the semi-double pink blossoms that attracted sphinx moths and hummingbirds and lifted them from their rocky homes along the road. Up to the garden he came, toting a shovel full to plant inside the cement square frame of a long-gone outhouse in the backyard. That was 1997.

Since that idiotic lapse of conscience and morality, the cement square has fallen apart, another bed built around it, and the bouncing bet happily overrunning everything in sight. It forms a mat of perilous darkness over the ground, snuffing out weed seeds and anything else keen to germinate in its midst. Why I didn't completely remove it when I constructed that new bed, I'll never know. It's royal looking in mid-July, don't get me wrong. Butterflies, sphinx moths, bees, and hummingbirds adore me. Then it goes to seed--jet black beds spurned from hell itself.

So rather than continue the futile resistance, I elicited the help of my friends in the genus Lysimachia. Calling on their fortune, I planted the following: L. atropurpurea 'Beaujolais' and L. ciliata 'Firecracker'. One of each and neither far from the edge of the soapwort. They'll establish, sleep a bit, creep more, and then leap with fervor into the soapwort's domain (at least I hope). Let the battle begin. This is what you call a duel to the death.

What will I do with the situation should the loosestrife conquer? Move onto the less than obedient plants, Physostegia virginiana.


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