Some people have green fingers, it is said. I have black ones. I try and grow a plant and the sucker dies. Overwatered, underwatered, forgotten, blighted, whatever – I am useless at keeping plants alive. So I opted for a wildflower garden, as it involved putting in a 3m x1m bed with nice soil, surrounded by rocks (how much do rocks cost? damn, that hurt). Then scatter a couple of packets of ‘meadow wildflower’ (TM) and ‘bumble bee garden’ (TM), rake in, tamp down, water & leave it be.
Soon enough, the ‘blooms eventually’ became a riot of colourfull stuff, big daisies, really big daisies, fake nettles with purple flowers, real nettles, random weeds, strange fern-like growths, bloody great 2m tall things and dock. I had all manner of stripey buzzing happy insects competing with butterflies galore. I kept the variety by mercilessly pulling up any plant where I spotted more than six in a clump.
Wintertime, it all dies off, leaving stalks and twigs and branches (branches? they’re meant to be plants). It all looked a bit nasty. So using my fine gardening acumen, I lopped off everything three inches from ground level. Next spring,’whoosh’ new greenery everywhere. The lawn was endangered, but swift action with shears and a lawnmower dealt with the incursion.The lawn showed it’s gratitude by annihilating my lawnmower. Something about foot long wet grass and electic motors…
So summer progresses and distractions come. The next time I look at my flower bed, it’s a 5m x 3m jungle! Where did that lot come from? So I leave it be until a few weeks ago, where I decide that as it didn’t disappear over winter, some serious preparation for new growth was needed. Duly prepped with a gardener’s standard toolkit – big boots, spade, shears, fork, nettle proof gloves – I set to. After a lot of trimming, I could see earth at last. So I started getting down to the roots of the bigger plants. Oh, did I mention my hands were now numb from nettle stings as the riot of them had overwhelmed my paltry glove defences? False nettles without flowers look like nettles. More importantly, it works the other way round and it seems that nettles are hardier than false nettles.
There were roots were everywhere, as were ground level stalks. Three quarter inch and better. After some fumbling and yanking and a lot of swearing, I discovered that all the ruinous foliage came from just three monstrous somethings. Which I then dug up. Root masses the size of footballs. It was like baby triffids, flailing muddy roots wrapped in shredded nettle leaves. Horrific. But the battle climaxed and the invaders were removed.
The aftermath was a wasteland, the flower bed clear, the grass for nearly a metre round gone through being shaded into extinction. My hands had returned to a semblance of life, with tingling and twitches. I retreated from my pyrrhic victory as the remaining grass snickered, daring me to bring on the next lawnmower for it to flash fry.
Today I descended like Schwarzennegger’s Conan, armed with my new secret weapon, the neighbour’s hover mower. Doesn’t matter how long the stuff is, coz it starts at the top and works down. Swinging the device in broad arcs, I cut swathes of level through the verdant resistance. Hasta la vista, grass.
It’s a quiet garden tonight, nothing above two inches high and the bugs twitching in PTSD as the starlight reaches their lairs for the first time in their little lifespans.
But in the midst of the bald patch in the lawn left by one of the monster plant things, I notice that a fox has left me a truly Picassian pile of poop, as if to remind me that I may have won today, but the grass and it’s allies will be back.