Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pink Balls Of Doom



Lora

It was my friend Lora who recommended the snowberry. "I just love mine," she said. "The flowers are nice, and then you get these lovely pink berries. And it does great in the shade." I bought a snowberry. I have a shady area I'd just as soon not take too elaborate care of. I've been ignoring it for years.

I do the gardening around here, and Dave does the cooking. That way nobody has to eat my cooking, and I get half the year off. I picked up a plant in a gallon pot: "Symphoricarpos, 'Magic Berry.'" A magic berry! Whoa! "Small pink flowers are followed by clusters of attractive rosy berries that attract birds." Birds! Little rosy balls! Who wouldn't want little rosy balls? Nobody, I say, nobody! I tucked the plant behind a tall azalea and next to a clematis and continued my ignoring regimen.

The first year, I didn't notice any little flowers at all, and of course no little rosy balls. But the plant looked happy enough. The second year, it still seemed happy, but no little rosy balls. Years passed. Happy plant. No balls.

This year I noticed a plant way over in another part of the garden that looked a lot like a snowberry. It
was odd. "I guess it re-seeded," I thought to myself, not thinking quite so hard as to wonder how it could re-seed without having formed berries. Later I noticed the snowberry seemed to have gotten entangled in the clematis vine. I decided to hack my way in and see what I could do.

Too late. The snowberry had already given the clematis a wedgie and was fixing to take its lunch money. I began to snip at it until I could see where it was coming up. "Funny," I thought. "I can't believe I planted it this close to the clematis." I began to tug at its roots. Suddenly I saw a movement in the bushes several yards away, and I froze, suspecting a marauding cat that needed to be encouraged out of the yard. I looked for a persuading pebble, but the movement had stopped. I pulled at the plant again, and once again leaves rippled yards away. In every direction.

Shit.

I followed one branch back to what turned out to be the original plant and tugged on that. Bushes began to vibrate all over the garden. This plant definitely had balls. The original tag gleamed from a twig. "Compact, spreading shrub. Grows five feet tall, spreading to thirteen feet wide by suckers." And each sucker produces a whole new plant that also grows thirteen feet wide by suckers.

And I know just who the sucker was who spread it. Who doesn't like rosy balls?

My friend Lora must be made to suffer for this. I think I'll make her dinner.

60 comments:

  1. Sucker, in my yard, frequently fpelled as in thofe olde famplerf. Bananas will do that, too.

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    1. Forewarned is forearmed! I was thinking of planting a snowberry. No longer. Thanks.

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  2. Our thornless raspberry (and I love raspberries) turned into a colony of Triffids. It strangled everything in the vegetable garden and then started marching... on the house, on the neighbours yard, across the street. THREE years later we have it (mostly) confined to a wine barrel.
    Perhaps in addition to making Lora dinner you could plant a rosy ball (or six) in her front yard.

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    1. She's dwarfed by her own in the photo--but it wasn't that big when she recommended it to me.

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  3. Lordy! I never heard of such a thing. A wedgie to the clematis? Can I watch? :-)

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    1. Oh, so you're the kind that likes to watch?

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  4. Bloody plants. Give 'em an inch and they'll take the whole yard. I think what you've got there is one of those ones that grows a big pod and then when you fall asleep a copy of you comes out of it and replaces you. The pink balls will spell doom indeed.

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    1. Especially if I come back with pink balls.

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  5. That's exactly the scenario in our twenty five year ignored front "garden." I don't know the name of the little green ground cover that climbed down from a patio planter and covered the ground. Unfortunately the weeds grew up and around. But the yucca! Their roots grow everywhere. They explore the garden until they find a place to their liking to shoot up. And, be still my heart, I see I must consult with Elephant's Child. I just planted three thornless raspberries.

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    1. So what's the deal with the thornless raspberries? I have Reg'lar raspberries but their thorns are no big deal. I have them in a bed surrounded by masonry blocks and I just have to pull up a sprig or two now and then when it ventures outside.

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  6. "A wedgie to the clematis" Now that is a great metaphor!

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    1. Metaphor nothing. It's still visible. I can't pull it of its crotch.

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  7. Agent Orange may be the only solution. Contact your local embassy.

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  8. Why is it that the expensive, demanding ones that you coddle and care for croak, and these "wild child" ones set off to take over the universe?

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    1. There's a whole comment thread on GardenWeb called "suicidal gardenia thread." Meanwhile, I'm beginning to have it up to here with alstromerias, of all things. And everyone seems to love them.

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  9. Those plants that send out suckers are a nightmare. We have buttercups that spread in every direction at lightning speed like an invading army. Total waste of time trying to pull them up, they just multiply again in a few days. I'm loathe to zap them with industrial quantities of weedkiller, who knows what lethal chemicals I might be breathing in?

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    1. I'm reminded of an article I once read from a guy who used nothing but organic methods in his garden, but when it came to field bindweed, he was happy to avert his eyes when his mother-in-law came over with the Round-Up.

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  10. Clearly the only solution is to lock yourself in the house and wait for the end times!

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    1. Oh, the house would be covered in blackberries long before the snowberry got enough traction.

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  11. Guess I need to add "Magic" to my list of plants to avoid, in order to not be helping invasive plants get a footing. Other code words include easy grower, requires little care, grows over a wide range of conditions, etc.

    Up here at National Bison Range and across Montana, trying to control invasives seems to be a top priority. We are loosing lots of potential grazing plants at Bison Range and cannot support the numbers of Bison we could if we didn't have them stealing the ground out from under us, but had the forage plants growing there instead.

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    1. "Requires little care" means it will reach your house from the nursery if left unattended over a season.

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  12. They have plants like that in the South, too. They say you should fertilize kudzu in a dry year with motor oil because lubricating the undersides of the leaves reduces the chance of sparks as it races across the ground. Wonder if that might help with your snowberry bush...

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  13. I've been there. I run from plants described as "easily grown in a moist, well-drained soil in sun or shade"..... Earmarks of a serial killer.

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  14. I've got a tiny (at least it was tiny once) patch of Creeping Jenny that was meant to cover a shady patch that wouldn't grow anything. Now I rip out armloads of it every time I check the garden. A misnomer; I call it Galloping Jenny. It is even trying to take over the London Pride patch. There's supposed to be a path between them, but as often as not, it's only wide enough for the slugs.

    Last year we bought a couple of sausage vines. I'm beginning to think that was a mistake, too.

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    1. I did the same thing with Sweet Woodruff. It does all pull up in a mat, but you never get all the edges that have, um, probed other plants.

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  15. You can make money from it - sell it to florists. They'd love to have some of it.

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    1. Speaking of--our wonderful Beargrass that grows in the alpine meadows is much coveted by florists and someone or other figured out he could whack it all down and make a fortune. Left to their own devices, people will kill anything for money.

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  16. Witnessing the hopeless campaign by The Friends of Terwilliger to uproot all the english ivy in Portland was always good for a giggle.

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    1. Oh man. Forest Park looks like a giant ivy topiary. Nice drawing!

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  17. You didn't read that before you bought it? Tsk Tsk. I'm laughing at you here....and thinking of that poor clematis getting a wedgie. I hope you manage to control the snowberry.

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    1. All I have to do is remember to check on it in another month or two. Which, since I instituted my ignoring regimen, is not likely to happen.

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  18. Stinging nettles make a nice plant present. Not only a thing of beauty but its roots spread like an underground spider web. And very Northwest.

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    1. But tasty, when young! I got into a bunch of nettles this spring and they weren't too bad--almost interesting, like little needles.

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    2. Oh, you have such a strange definition of interesting, Murr!

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    3. Yeah, you see, it wasn't really painful. it was like being stabbed by a hundred little chili pepper cocktail swords.

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  19. In the rich volcanic soil of wet Western Washington even shrubbery (not too expensive) that is certified to be DWARF-ish on the label, isn't. It will grow as tall as your house. It will grow up the trellis and the fence, dismantling them as it grows. It will grow up and around the Doug fir and strangle it in its sleep. It will take off down the neighborhood, reseeding itself and yodeling like Tarzan as it goes.

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    1. And you aren't even talking about Himalayan blackberries. Which will cover your dwarfish shrub even after it gets as tall as your house.

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  20. LOL Well, you could have an entire garden of pink balls! LOL
    It must be a relative of the blackberry plant.

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    1. Every year some new person moves into the neighborhood and I have to do an intervention when they discover blackberries in the yard and get all excited. "No," I say. "I will take you to a blackberry patch. You are taking this out."

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  21. OMG! Could it be Stoloniferous?!

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  22. I guess I'm lucky that everything here freezes to death in winter. Except dandelions.

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  23. Don't forget that with some snowberries and blue mountain flower, you can make a very nice potion to protect yourself from flame.

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    1. Ooo! Flame retardants! I just wrote about that. Coming soon.

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  24. Every time I visited my aunt, I admired all of her beautiful orange flowers that grew on vines climbing up the trees, and of course all of the hummingbirds that fed from the flowers. So she decided to give me two snippets of said vine, which I lovingly planted next to two huge oak trees in my small yard. The vines grew, but no flowers for 5 years. At the beginning of year 6, I gave them an ultimatum: bloom or be eradicated. They bloomed. Beautifully. For 3 years. Then the oaks became diseased and hollow and had to be cut down lest they fall on my house (which they would have during Hurricane Sandy had they not been felled). Of course, the vines, which by now had developed nice thick woody trunks of their own, were also cut. Since then, the trumpet vines have exacted their revenge. There are trumpet vines growing everywhere. They are in the strawberry pyramid, the vegetable beds, and even between the bricks of a walkway. They grew up the side of my aluminum shed until their weight was too much for the paint they were suckered onto and fell over, taking the paint off the shed with them. They are popping up all over, through every crack and crevice they can find. And although my lot is small (only 60 x 100 feet) not a single vine has popped up in any of my neighbor's yards. No, orange trumpet vine seeks revenge only on me. I've tried every remedy known to man that won't kill or poison my edibles (and thus me) to no avail. I think the vine is taunting me to spray it with roundup as a sneaky way of poisoning me to death. My aunt also gave 2 snippets of the vine to my mom, and I recently stopped over to visit and saw my dad making a list of trees that needed to be cut down. He was quite unnerved when I started screaming "whatever you do, DON'T CUT THAT VINE!"

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    1. Oh I had your trumpet vine pegged from the first sentence. Admirable plant. I lusted after it for years, plotting to see if I could build a structure for it that I could walk all the way around--a tower--and whack at it every couple weeks. I knew there wasn't a thing in this world I could commit to doing every two weeks, and I didn't get one.

      But my alstromerias, which were so lovely and stayed put for years and years--one year I decided to divide them like good perennials and put them in other spots as well. And as soon as I dug the clump up, they went alien on me. Now they're everywhere. I can't kill them. You're right. Don't cut that VINE!

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    2. Is that one a pyrostegia? I grew one of those once, it's stunning in full bloom. I had to move away before it reached full size though.

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    3. No, it's a Campsis. You wouldn't have been able to move away fast enough.

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  25. "The snowberry had already given the clematis a wedgie and was fixing to take its lunch money."

    That is one of the funniest sentences I've ever read!

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    1. You should see the poor clematis. Even now it's all hunched in a corner, cowering.

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  26. We have the gift of morning glories and deadly nightshade. Ivy wanders over from the neighbor's yard. I have half a mind to just give up and accept it. At least you don't have to mow morning glories.

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    1. I used to have a bunch of field bindweed (morning glories). It kept creeping over from the neighbor's yard. So we bought their house.

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  27. Noted! I'll not be buying one of those! I have a Japanese false bamboo that is threatening to take over my neighborhood. I curse the former owners for planting it because from what I read on-line, it is essentially indestructible.

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  28. False bamboo, better known as Japanese knotweed around here, is taking over the banks and islands of the Upper Delaware River along the PA/NY border where I grew up. It was imported to Philadelphia for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, and despite being labeled an invasive weed, it is still sold for decorative plantings in many places. Names to look for include: Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum, Fallopia japonica or Reynoutria japonica), Giant knotweed (Polygonum sachalinensis), Japanese or Mexican bamboo, fleece flower, fallopia, lace plant, and Sally/donkey/gypsy/wild rhubarb. It can be discouraged, but it takes a LOT of time, effort and determination.

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