Tuesday, I swapped my regular work night for Wednesday night. The plan was to get out and see the Violent Femmes at 1st Avenue with laurel and kaustin for the formter's birthday (and because, you know, it's the Femmes). That afternoon, however, I mowed the front lawn, took a shower and proceeded to crash mightily. Maybe some left-over fatigue from the day before's picnic, maybe some general feebleness. In any case, it amounted to a partially-mowed lawn (the back still needing mowing) and an evening of watching a Twins game and movies on TiVo with a little CivIII in the mix.
Wednesday was a weeding day. For a while now, I've been neglecting the South Prairie and, as happens when one does such things, various plants not of my choosing were making their presence known. By design, I want to keep a foot-path along the fence with my neighbor. My neighbor, however, had planted something with broad leaves that have a reddish tinge to them. It's colorful, well-behaved and quite lovely in the little strip my neighbor has along the fence. Not many of these adjectives apply after it had gone to seed and deposited its progeny all along my foot-path and into the South Prairie. Fortunately, said foot-path is made up of inches of mulch so the broad-leafed interloper did not get much of a foothold.
Last year, my main nemesis in the South Prairie was quackgrass, or to use its scientific name, the fucking rhizomatic motherfucker. This year, I'm amazed at how well the prarie plants are doing in keeping this menace at bay. I'll still find a jointed blade or two trying to make a go of it now and then, but they are inevitably scrawny stalks that are stretching to find a piece of the sun. All their energy being put into survival means there's less for spreading their sick little specialized stems. So I just follow the stem to the ground, pull gently and remove them easily.
Much of this anti-rhizome action is due to the vigorous, nay aggressive, growth of the Heath Aster. It was not until well after I'd planted several plants that I read that this species was known for its aggressive nature. I let the whole of the prairie go to seed last year in hopes of having the plants spread themselves to fill in the gaps. No worries there! every available patch of open ground has been taken over by Heath Aster! I'm keeping after it this year, not letting it get as wild as it did last year and I'll be cutting it back after it flowers in order to stop its spread.
A new batch of weeds are gaining my attention this year, now that the Heath Aster as the quackgrass in check. There's the one I call stinkweed because it smells rather disgusting when it is bruised as you pull it. It actually has lovely foilage and I would be tempted to let it fight its way to survival among the Heath Aster (to give that some competition, if nothing else) if it were not a) shallow rooted and b) giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
For you see, stinkweed seems to shelter another plant, encouraging the latter's growth. This other plant I call "creepy fuck," for it has a creeping habit and makes a tangled mat of stems and short leaves that make it difficult to remove without also removing some of the plants it is tangled around. Fortunately, it tends to tangle around stinkweed, so that's no loss and when it tangles around the occasional Heath Aster, well, I've got plenty of that so pulling a plant or two won't hurt anyone.
Another annoying plant is one I call bind weed (which may be its actual name) or, when I'm feeling less kind "viney bastard." It is a vine that uses pretty much anything available for support, twisting around other plants in its effort to reach sunlight. Though I don't have direct evidence to support it, it looks like it would choke the life out of anything it climbed on. It also has the nasty habit of dropping new roots as it crawls across the ground. So pulling it out involves multiple steps to make sure one gets it all.
And there is the ever-present creeping charlie. Like communism, I try to contain creeping charlie lest it take over the entire area. I've surrendered by back yard and even portions of my front yard to this foe, content, for now, to keep it in check. I know, however, that if it should get to my neighbor's yard that it's only a matter of time before the whole block falls. So I've got a DMZ of sorts set up along the fenceline with smothering devices to slow its advance. You'll notice I didn't say stop, for charlie is persistant and will creep across anything given enough time. The DMZ allows me to yank it back to its confines every now and then before it gains a foothold in the neighbor's lawn.