Come, Mommy

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New Jersey Botany - Beware of Vines

The previous owners of our house did extensive landscaping to the yard. It's a lot of work to keep up with all the weeding, and if we had three or so hours during the day, every day, we just might be able to keep up with the weeding and trimming. We don't, and we haven't. As a consequence, the side section of our backyard has become overgrown with vines of various types. It is actually pretty to have some of this wild growth around, and it makes our bird feeders very popular as the vines and shrubs provide lots of protective cover for birds. However, our fence is in danger of collapse due to the sheer weight of vegetation growing up over it.

There's been a running joke in our marriage about vines. Being from the Upper Midwest, I never had a lot of experience with vines as a kid. I guess the winters are too harsh for viny-type plants out there. New Jersey is full of vines, and I always wanted to plants some vines in the garden because they are so pretty. Kevin has always been adamant that that was not one of my better ideas, since vines here tend to be very aggressive and destroy whatever they grow upon. He was right, and I only had to look out the back door to see his point.

Over the weekend, Kevin received a Home Depot gift card as a birthday present from his parents, and he used part of it to buy me a hoe. (I know, I know, so romantic!) I don't at all fancy the idea of spraying chemicals willy-nilly about the yard, and a hoe and a little muscle power will remove even deeply-rooted weeds, so I set out this weekend to rid the gardens of weeds. All was well for a time. I weeded the rose garden, the side yard, ad the front garden. Then, Monday, I set to work on the aforementioned vine garden.

I cleared out some wild strawberries.

I cleared out some Virginia creeper.

And then there was this:

We found a large patch of it by the back fence. Being that you can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can't take the Midwest out of the girl, I assumed that poison ivy grows as a bush, because, well, in the Midwest, it does. Apparently on the Eastern Seaboard, it's a vine. Kevin removed the large patch of it himself.

It seems that I missed the take-home point of the "Vines are aggressive" argument. There must have been some poison ivy trailing in with the Virginia creeper, because I have the telltale rash on my lower legs. Also, the telltale itching.

So, to recap, vines will take over a yard in short order. Some vines are not friendly. A hoe will remove ground-growing vines very well, at least until they grow back in a week or two. And most importantly, "Leaves of three, let them be." Or at least, let one's husband, who knows how to handle evil vines, deal with poison ivy.


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