Thursday, May 21, 2009

One woman’s plant treasure is another’s plant nightmare

Bishops weed would take over our entire front yard if given the chance. When was it planted? Did they know it was horribly invasive here? Funny thing, when we first looked at our house it was mid May and there was not a single leaf of this plant in site. Nowhere. There was a fresh layer of bark dust, laid down to make the house look clean and spiffy no doubt. Had they just trampled the bishops weed before laying the bark dust to make putting it down it easier? It is a mystery. I’ve pulled up a lot of it. I have no illusions of ever winning the battle so I just try to accept it.

In the interest of full disclosure I’ll admit that in an early danger garden post I came out in favor of horsetail, for many this plant is right up there with Bishops weed. The difference is that I keep it in a pot. I know that given the right conditions it will wipe out other plants and is virtually impossible to eradicate.

Below is a plant that I planted and then learned it is considered invasive to some. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have saved the label and I can’t remember its name (help?). I love the arrowhead shaped leaves. This is only the second time I have seen it flower, and I would have missed this one too if Lila, our dog, hadn’t been munching on something and caught my attention.

It was in a great spot before we put in our patio but now it’s kind of lost. I should move it where we can better enjoy it. The great thing about this plant is that after the flower withers you get an amazing stalk of orange seeds that lasts for months. Invasive? I don’t see it. After almost 4 years I have no more than the original two plants I planted.

I took last weekend off, didn’t pull a single piece of Bindweed. I’m paying for that, I’ve got my work cut out for me. I think if we ever went away for a month during the summer we would come back to find this plant completely covering the house.

For those of you not “lucky” enough to have experienced it first hand this stuff wraps it’s self around everything, it climbs and it slithers along the ground. And will grow back from the tiniest little root. It’s the light green heart shaped leaf in the picture. Others may also identify the ivy in the photo as being an invasive pest but mine is very well behaved. At least compared to the bindweed. In other parts of Portland English Ivy covers our huge Doug Fir trees and is a real problem.

What are you all battling in your garden that someone else thought was worth planting and you inherited? Or have you planted something knowing that it had a reputation as an invasive thug but you just didn't care or you thought you would keep it under control?


  1. Bindweed and quackgrass are my evil nemeses, I don't think I will ever beat them. They seem worse this year, maybe they like a nice cold winter to really gear up to terrorize the garden. And Himalayan blackberry comes out of nowhere and before I know it is 10 ft. tall and ready to stab me in my feeble attempts to remove it. All other weeds are pathetic in comparison even if more numerous (popping weed, stinky bob, the ghost of former lawns removed). Oh, and the St. John's wort I ripped out in the parking strip that is still trying to return 4 yr.s later. Your Bishop's weed sounds like a real problem - it's pretty, but too bad it's ill-behaved. That lily looks kind of like skunk cabbage but that's yellow. Dunno, it's cute but hope it doesn't decide to take over someday! I still can't believe you bought horsetail!?!

  2. I take your word that the bishops weeds is a pain, because it's eye-catching. And there's nothing you can do to get rid of it, huh? I don't know what your mystery plant is, but the bloom kinda looks like the one on the peace lily. Cheers!

  3. At least the bishop's weed is pretty? But scary how fast it spreads. I wonder if you could smother it with a cover of newspapers? I was going to try that in my mom's yard with hers.
    I have the bind weed too. It's much more under control in most of the garden after several years of patiently pulling, but the next door neighbors are letting it climb up the fence and go to seed. Argh!

  4. Hmm, that bishops weed is quite pretty. But I know what you mean about greedy plants. In my new garden, Virginia creeper is driving me nuts, popping up in all my beds and trying to smother everything. I don't know if it was planted or just occurred on this lot naturally.

  5. Denise SchreiberMay 22, 2009

    I whole heartedly support the thug known as horsetail rush! But like you, I keep it in a pot. Therefore, I have no experience with its potency. I just love the way it looks!

  6. I was thinking the same thing Karen, that somehow the winter made the bindweed even stronger. Sounds like you have more pest plants than I. So glad I don't have blackberry! I did buy horsetail! LOVE IT! There used to be a vacant lot across the street from City Peoples Garden Store on Madison, my husband and I dug some up from there too, it didn't make it though. I vow to never ever let it out of it's pot. I've seen pictures of how bad it can be.

    Avis - it isn't bad looking, although once it gets hot some of the leaves get crispy. I could have it just is aggravating that something I don't want is such a major player in the front garden! It came to me last night the the mystery plant's name starts with an 'A'...

    Megan - I hadn't thought of the newspaper trick, that's a good idea! Our bindweed is just in one part of the garden, the area I refer to as the jungle, it could be worse I guess. I did notice that I need to go over on my neighbors side and do some pulling, soon!

    Pam I've got Virginia Creeper too! But I'm to blame for that as I brought it with me from Spokane with a couple of plants (it was growing near buy and I got some with the roots). It's pretty easy to whack back but if I let it go I'm sure it would take over. I do love the fall color that it brings!

    DS - is your horsetail multiplying and filling the pot? I'm going to upgrade mine to a larger pot this year. And take it off the table so that Andrew doesn't go nuts having to look around it when having conversations.

  7. Greenwalks' Karen turned me on to the invasive nature of my beloved pampas grass. I'll admit I had seen it growing in a place that it clearly had not been planted, but I was unaware of the designation until she revaeled that in a post about Cousin Itt's hairdo.

    I won't remove it, but I expect I'll feel a twinge of guilt when I see another unauthorized location!

  8. BTW, your unidentified plant has leaves like a caladium (if I'm reading the photo correctly) but I haven't seen a bloom like that before.

  9. PatriciaMay 25, 2009

    Even in the early days, you'd have thought the "weed" moniker would have tipped me off. Been trying to kill it ever since, but I have to admit, Bishop's Weed looks pretty good out there under the birch tree--like everything, so voluptuous after all this rain...

  10. Patricia would you believe that I am digging some up to give to a neighbors mom? Even with all the warnings I could give she still wants it! It can be deceptively pretty...

  11. Skunk Cabbage (western cause ur in Portland) came to mind, which is an Arum:

    The battle over invasives. Hmm. Its difficult. Because we cannot see the reach outside of our garden easily. I've seen the English Ivy in Forest Park when I lived in Portland 14 years ago. Up the trees, everywhere. Its the birds poopin the seeds!

    I have a mustard. Bought from a nursery in Maine, a cultivar that has sported young in my garden. I like it, great cottage garden plant! But others have called me on it, and I see mustard everywhere now. But my wife loves it, grew up with it. Hmm, what to do. If I pull it, it will not go away and isn't nature more than what we say it is? Nature doesn't care about our ideas. We're a mess though, and shouldn't we do the right thing because we know better? Hmm. The plants exploit our taste for eyeball aesthetics. Purple loosestrife is just gorgeous in a wetland! I suppose we and everything else will need to adapt to our traipsing all over the world. But we must be prepared to do the same!

  12. Arum italicum!!! Thanks NYCG! I would have never gotten it w/o your pointing me in the Arum direction. You are right about the birds, and make several good points. Thank you for commenting. I've gotta go check out your blog now...


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