Thursday, October 11, 2018


It's not the first time I've said it, but gardening does my heart, soul and body good.  All summer long, I ignored my garden and it was almost as if the tomatoes got offended and just stopped growing.   The Bermuda grass is an unruly spidery sprawler that overtakes whatever neat lines you draw with mulch.  By far, the worst offender in the garden rebellion was the wisteria.

I didn't know when I planted that vine that it was the wrong kind of wisteria;  I should have chosen American wisteria which grows in a slow and controlled manner. Instead, I planted not one but two asian versions that grow violently, climbing everything in its path, and overtaking my hefty pergola so completely that I routinely had to cut my way out from underneath it.   It never bloomed.  It just grew and grew and grew, greedily taking over every empty space it could.

I am a grateful gardener -too grateful.  I often let things grow where they don't belong because I'm so happy to have a plant.  Ten years have passed in our house now and what was once an empty patch of weedy grass inside an expanse of privacy fence is now quite a jungle of pampas grass, seedling trees that have surpassed the height of the house,  iris gone mad, and morning glory vines that will not be stopped. One day, looking again at that hairy mess of a wisteria, ducking underneath it and hoping not to scratch my cornea once again with a wispy vine, I realized something.

I realized I didn't want that wisteria growing in my yard any longer.

There are things that work for you for awhile.  They give shade. They block an uninspiring view. They give you a place to hide beneath. But then they grow too large, gobbling up resources from other plants that you would like to grow.  They require so much maintenance that you never get a chance to sit beneath the shade anymore because you have to fight the vines just to be able to make the simplest move.  And what once felt protective begins to feel smothering; you can barely see the light through the heavy over-growth.

In a recent podcast, I heard a business leader say that we must be brave enough to break our own rules.  It has been my rule for a long time to be a nurturer, a thoughtful pruner, a planter.  I don't kill.  I don't destroy.  I don't take down.  But my rules were making the yard a much less enjoyable place. The grabby vines brushing at everybody as they tried to pass through the walkways grew more rude by the day, its power un-checked.

And so, I put on my protective gear and took out a lopper, a hatchet, two pruners, a bow saw and giant tarp. I began to cut and cut and cut and cut some more.  Half way through, while yanking and pulling at the monstrous tentacles, I got a phone call and had to go pick up a kid at school.  I know I made an inspiring sight in my short flowered garden booties, bare legs shredded in scrapes, and my t-shirt salted over with sweat.  I returned to the task, rested and determined and began again, hacking at a clump of 5 tangled stumps thicker than my arms.  And I began to pull again and again, hand over hand, pulling the vine from over the pergola, out from the chimney and gutters, tangled into other bushes.

As I made progress, I thought about the news of the week.  I thought about the way I used to feel sheltered by my political party and its family-focussed ideals. I remembered how having a husband meant I could shut out the glare of politics and problems that seemed too large and far-removed for me to concern myself with.  The thick vines of patriarchy were familiar and comforting for many years and I let them grow around me, ignoring how intrusive this powerful plant was in the lives of my neighbors,  intruding unwanted into their yards, pulling down the privacy of their fences, popping up without consent in their personal spaces.

But in a moment, it became clear to me that our little sliver of the world would be better without this invasive plant.  It would be better to give other plants the space and resources to see the sun.  It would   be better to make the spaces safe to walk through.  It would be better to eradicate the roots that took what was not theirs to have.  And as soon as I knew, I had to act.  I would not let this go on one more day.  I broke my own rules and I cut that thing down.


1 comment:

Mother B said...

It looks wonderful......I love freeing.........!!!!!!

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