Frances walked through her landscape garden with me, pointing out some of her maintenance concerns. She said, “I would like for you to hand-weed this area.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I replied.—Here’s why I said that:
There are a number of weeds that are most pervasive and undesirable in the landscape garden. These plants are so survival oriented that they spread their roots out for quite a distance. When you pull one of them as a weed it will break off from these adventitious roots which will then sprout on their own, coming up all over the place (the more you pull the more you get). If you spray these weeds with a good weed killer they will die, roots and all.
I wrote an earlier article on weed spraying techniques, Click Here: Killing Weeds in the Landscape Garden I am sure that you will find that information helpful.
If left to grow, these vines have the ability to infest and totally destroy your special shrubbery. Here are some of them:
1. Cow itch, (trumpet vine, hummingbird vine)
I loved what Wikipedia said about cow itch:
The vigor of the trumpet vine should not be underestimated. In warm weather, it puts out huge numbers of tendrils that grab onto every available surface, and eventually expand into heavy woody stems several centimeters in diameter. It grows well on arbors, fences, telephone poles, and trees, although it may dismember them in the process. Ruthless pruning is recommended. Outside of its native range this species has the potential to be highly invasive, even as far north as New England. The trumpet vine thrives in many places in southern Canada as well.”
2. Saw briar (smilax)
One of the most difficult weeds to eradicate is the saw briar. The southern Indians used to dig the roots of this plant and eat them like potatoes.
3. Poison ivy
I assume that we all know the consequences of pulling this weed. I found it interesting that my Dutch brother-in-law pulled weeds in Tennessee and then flew to Amsterdam. The next day in Holland he broke out in a terrible itchy rash and had to go to the hospital. The doctors in Holland didn’t know what was wrong or how to treat it so they had to call The U.S. You guessed it—poison ivy
4. Virginia creeper
Virginia creeper is a pretty plant. My Swiss mother-in-law loves the way it looks growing up a wall. Apparently people in the northern U.S. and in some parts of Europe actually cultivate this noxious weed. Grown up the side of a house, this plant will eat out mortar joints and cause wood to rot and fall apart. In the garden it will cover and choke your desirable plants.
In the right place this grape vine is desirable. The fruits make wonderful jellies and wines. However, in the garden it will take over trees and shrubs in a rampant manner while searching for light. Remember, “a weed is a plant that is in the wrong place.”
There are some desirable cultivars of this plant but the wild variety can be a nuisance. The blooms do smell good and I have fond memories from my childhood that deal with pulling the bloom apart and sucking on the sweet nectar therein. Now, though, I routinely remove it from azaleas and hollies in people’s yards.
And to finish off this article I am including a picture of the beautiful trumpet flower of the cow itch plant. You can see why it is also called “hummingbird vine.”
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