Murder in the flower-bed

Please note: this post contains descriptions of graphic violence against bamboo and hybrid tea roses.

I am capable of a certain level of violence.

There are crimes of passion when I have been pushed too far. Bamboo, for instance.  I hate bamboo.  We inherited a thicket of it growing along a short stretch of fence. Bamboo does not belong here.  It sends out a pipework of roots in all directions and will soon be invading flowerbeds and lawns.  Which is what it was doing, at the rate of several centimetres per day.  I nearly busted a gut pulling these up.  It didn’t help that they were sunk into the claggiest clay and anchored by spikes of sub-roots.  It was like the enormous turnip in the end, taking Stevie, me, my dad, and three children (even Ziggy bouncing around offering encouragement) to finally uproot this utter swine that calls itself a plant.  Never, EVER plant bamboo.

Dogwood is growing perfectly happily in its place. Please, gardeners of the world, plant dogwood, not bamboo!  You will have bountiful, glowing stems in winter and plump little shrubs for the rest of the time.  They will stay in one place, and respect boundaries.  Make love, not war.

There are those deaths that could be looked on as a mercy killing, as in the perennial sunflower being strangled by bindweed. I panicked. Gardening manuals made me terrified of bindweed, so I removed all trace of bindweed and sunflower, with the cold precision of inside knowledge.

The flowering quince was self-defence. It had lacerated me one too many times.

And then there are the proper killing sprees. Heuchera.  Achillea.  Hybrid Teas.  Sometimes you just don’t get on with a plant.  Heuchera is ok in someone else’s garden.  Achillea fades annoyingly in the sun and looks like an old tapestry in a dusty attic.  You can hack off the offending flowers.  But then you are left with the dry old husk of hairy foliage.  There is nothing to do but finish the job off.

If I know that one of my assassinations will be controversial, I wait until Stevie is safely out of the way, so that he doesn’t have to witness my blood-lust. He might come back from the barbers on a Saturday morning to find me dragging the carcass to the bonfire.  Or if I am feeling really devious, I will chop it up small and bury it in the dalek compost bins, out of sight.  I might even have a new peony ready to drop into the vacant hole, so that there will be no give-away crater to arouse suspicion.

(Replant disease is where you can’t replant the same species of plant in the same hole twice. Something to do with the build-up of viruses in the soil.  So plant a peony where a rose was, or a rose where a peony was.  Job done.)

Nobody’s perfect. Don’t beat yourself up.  As long as you are helping more plants to live than you are exterminating.  Don’t use weed-killer.  Chemical warfare is a definite no-no.  If possible use your bare hands, but if you must use a weapon, make it proportionate. And mind your toes.

For big beasts, I dig all around the root-ball, if necessary sawing or secateuring through the thicker roots. There might even be a pick-axe involved to excavate around the roots so I can see what I’m doing. If you pull the monster a bit you can feel where it’s clinging on, and sever its fingertips.

There might be a little bit of cussing. I might even whimper quietly and wring my hands. Only when I am really stuck will I involve an accomplice. If I’m proud of my prey, I will, like a cat, bring it to the back door, my hand around its neck, holding it out to show my family.

What plants have you assassinated?  Did you feel remorse?  Were you brought to justice?  Did you try to make amends my planting something else in its place?

17 Comments Add yours

  1. LOL! My husband is the violent one of us in the garden. He really goes after ivy! Loved your disclaimer…I thought OMG…who did I just sign up to follow?! Great post!

  2. Ali says:

    Thanks Michele. I know, it is somewhat at odds with my usual aim of doing no harm. But it’s for the greater good. And I do it mindfully!

  3. Haha… Loved reading this post Ali. We have some bamboo but I keep trimming it regular and so far its not encroached too far into the border from where I first planted years ago to screen the greenhouse from the main garden.. Peonies have never seemed to thrive in my garden.. I do not know if they do not like the soil.. But I gave up and the one I do have on my front garden only produces leaf and no flower..
    Happy Gardening 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      I wonder if the peony is planted too deeply? That can stop them flowering. If you can be bothered, you could try re-planting it more shallowly with the new growing tips only a couple of cms underground. Or just enjoy the gorgeous foliage!

      1. Thank you for that Ali.. I may well ask hubby to do just that… 🙂

  4. bcparkison says:

    Oh my yes. For me it has been mint. Please don’t ever and I really mean never plant mint in the ground. Always a container. I am still working on removing Mint,mint, mint in my green house and I am not sure it will ever be gone.

  5. Ali says:

    Oh, yes! When we moved here we had a mint infestation in what is now the bright border. But it’s gone now – I planted euphorbia, which is equally rampant!
    Thank you for reading and commenting. X

  6. calmkate says:

    yes, loathe bamboo with a vengeance … any murder story with it as the victim is my kind of story … well done Ali!

  7. Ali says:

    Phew! Thank you for the pardon! 🧘‍♀️🙏😘

  8. You’re a really good writer and funny. I love your first line.

  9. I’m glad I’m not the only one who attacks weeds (anything that does not belong in my garden) with a vengeance! 🙂

  10. We have a plant sale every year, so anything I want to remove gets donated, and I have no guilt. 🙂 I have herniated discs in my back twice in the last few years – pulling out pachysandra and liriope. Those two belong in the same category with bamboo as far as I’m concerned.

    1. Ali says:

      That’s a great idea, Judy. My spares go to a plant sale or garden club, but I’m also thinking of having a ‘help yourself’ area at the end of the garden. Ouch! That does not sound pleasant. I think I’m with you with pachysandra.
      Thanks for stoping by!

      1. I have a gardening friend who has a ‘help yourself’ at the end of her driveway. Her neighbors love it. 🙂

  11. Claudette says:

    laughed whilst reading this. In a good way. I’m a “if you don’t do well in my garden then you get the chop, literally” kind of gardener. Nothing a good severe haircut won’t fix, and if it doesn’t, then out you go.

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