Taming the urban jungle
A friend of mine is an extreme gardener and asked me to save vines for a rustic weaving project in her ornately interesting yard. Vines? Not a problem, unfortunately. Got plenty of ‘em.
Wisteria vines, magnificently wicked, like clotheslines with knots or fistulas every so often that send out smaller roots in a circle. I used to love wisteria high in the trees with its clusters of purple blossoms, sweet smelling like lilacs. After battling it in my yard for a few years, I see it as a tree-killing, out-of-control monster, one of the woody-vined, invasive exotic plants causing problems in cities as well as undomesticated forests. “My” wisteria comes through my cyclone fence from a mother vine around a big pine tree in the next yard. I take a clippers to the new vines, reaching out like long, lacey tongues, and a few weeks later they’re “eating” my house again, twining into the vinyl siding.
Virginia Creeper vines, much more polite, thin and red and easy to pull up, also climb high into the trees, decorating them with their five-leaved, um, leaves.
And then there are the vines of the Evil Plant, my name since I don’t know the botanical name for this insidious, thorned monstrosity which also moves along under the ground in ropes, popping up in the middle of the grass, the edge of the grass, everywhere! Indiscriminately climbs up fences and trees and garbage cans and poles, making bushy formations with its shiny green leaves. Its vines are big and strong enough for Tarzan to swing on. Oo, ouch, except for the thorn issue.
English Ivy vines, my favorite, a lovely ground cover, but also something to control. Maintenance trimming year by year is important or this vine, too, will cover and destroy. But English Ivy vines behave, they respond to trimming and can be shaped and add beauty and class to flower beds and yard corners.
Poison ivy vines, which I will not pass on for the craft project! Again, these come into my yard from a neighbor’s, and I’ve already had an unpleasant bout with their poison when pulling the new, young ones up early in the spring. Now, I spray them with a vinegar-salt-detergent mixture, which dries up the visible plant but doesn’t seem to eradicate them down to the roots.
Think of all this in my yard when I live a pleasant walk from the state capital building! Good grief. The four yards that adjoin mine are not well-attended, hence…
I’m gaining a great deal as I try to solve the problem: getting to know my neighbors better, talking to “the city” and enlisting their services in the battle, discovering great online resources (controlling wisteria) and learning lots about plant pests. All advice welcome!