a few persistent unwelcome plants in my garden

I don't know if I would  call them weeds. They certainly don't feature on official lists of plants most feared and hated. Other plants have lived in my garden for a while,  and have accepted that they are no longer wanted, allowing themselves to be dug up and go to compost or other people's gardens. But these plants keep returning. What is it with them? They just don't get the message: Go away!  Digging them up doesn't work. Glysophate weedspray doesn't deter them. So I just keep them in check the best I can, in a kind of uneasy truce.

There was a time when wisteria covered the deck. For a few weeks a year it was divine. Lovely perfume wafting, long purple flowers hanging down. But if I wasn't vigilant it would grow into the roof and start lifting the tiles. I was an inexperienced gardener and found it scary. Then the deck started to rot and needed to be replaced so it was a chance to get rid of it and replace it with something more benign and useful - a grape vine. I cut the wisteria right back and painted it with the poison. That would have been maybe 10 years ago, and it's still coming back. Minus the flowers. I can't dig it up. Sometimes I poison it, sometimes I prune it back. More and more often lately I just leave it.  I have to accept the wisteria will still be in the garden when I have left it.
Wisteria climbing on the deck
 The acanthus story is similar. In front of the kiwi vine-covered screen acanthus thrived in the shade of the large tree next door. But the kiwifruit didn't do well without being watered and in time the screen was removed. Garden change happened.  In many respects the changes were planned and managed. Except the acanthus rebelled. They are joined deep underground so digging them up doesn't work. The chemical solution is only short term. I do love them - in moderation - so I might abandon the power struggle and aim for influence instead of control.

Acanthus keeps returning
It was a special birthday, 20 years ago, and M. gave me a bridal veil creeper in a pot. I kept it in the pot for years and loved its delicate dark green foliage and small white flowers. Then it escaped into the garden. It's easy to pull up but you never get it all, and it too will outlive me in the garden.

Bridal Veil Creeper creeping and lurking in the undergrowth
Then there's ivy. It's lovely, reminds me of old houses in England. I knew it was rampant, so only grew it in a pot - where it stayed.  Over time the couple next door grew old and died. Their house was sold, pulled down and a modern swish-er house built. My neighbours decided to grow a kind of ivy on their side of the fence. Which they are entitled to do but surprise, surprise ... the ivy doesn't stay on the other side of the fence. So now I continually pull out little ivy seedlings. If I stop doing this I will have a garden of ivy. Could be nice, but it's not really what I have in mind.
Ivy on the fence
The last unwanted plant is infuriatingly cunning and clever. I don't know what it's called and hope someone can identify it for me. Its leaves and habit look exactly like a forget me not except that it never flowers.  It's only when I have pulled it out that I know for sure which one it is because the roots are different.  Forget me not roots are long and thin and not clingy, unlike this mystery plant, which has many strong wiry fine roots.

Forget Me Nots with possible imitators nearby


  1. Seeds are subjective - I've had to pull out tons of aquilegias in the wrong place and I love that plant.

  2. or weeds - my damn eyes - sorry.

  3. I never knew wisteria could be so tenacious! Then again, I read a book years ago where a wisteria vine was one of the narrators of a a long family saga, bearing witness to generations of goings on in the house and garden. (Wonder what my weeds would say about me!)

  4. There is a young wisteria on our back deck...I had planned to pull it out..but the goats are doing a great job of keeping it pruned. I don;t think they would work in your garden though! LOL. I have a lot of ground covers in the front yard that are really weeds...but they keep the grassy weeds away so i am leaving them. You are right, sometimes we have to learn to live with them and maybe just control them somewhat.

  5. Dear Hermes, Richard Mabey defines a weed as a plant in the wrong place - so that fits with your comment that weeds are subjective. Granny bonnets would never come up uninvited in our climate. Sorry your eyes are bothering you.

    Hi Hazel , no - I don't think goats would be suitable in my garden (lol, lol!) unless I could train them to prune what I wanted pruned and not to eat anything else.

    Hi JGH, That book sounds so interesting - wonderful idea of long lived plants observing generations of human lives.

    Cheers, catmint

  6. Hi catmint, yes, I know what you mean. I guess it is in the eye of the beholder. I have also a saga, three weed plants, creep above and underneath seed with abundance and are such a pain that I had to learn to live with them! Nothing can eradicate them, they are smarter and much faster than I. Wisterias and grape vines never leave you, once they have set foot into your garden.

  7. I can imagine what it would be like if you left it alone for fifty years, then came back to see. You might even find a sleeping beauty had moved into your house.


  8. Its amazing how many of our most difficult plants were purposefully planted huh? Wisteria down here is considered an evil akin to kudzu (also planted on purpose). It eats entire houses and cars in short order. Looks beautiful in the spring, but I think you are right, you cannot get rid of it. Ever. And when you are gone it will turn the house purple.

  9. Hi Catmint~~ I can't tell you the mystery plant but it grows in my garden too. I have a story similar to your wisteria only mine is with the passionflower vine. Dang thing refuses to admit defeat, showing up feet away from where the original was planted. Grrr.... And Ivy, oh don't get me started on my neighbor's ivy fence and the seedlings. Very un PC since it is on the noxious weed list. Anyway, great post!

  10. Hi Catmint, I'd love a wisteria in my yard! They are pretty tough, when I went to visit a town not long ago that was destroyed by fire, I saw isteria survive where there was just blackened foundation and the whoel house nd garden had gone.

  11. Hi Titania, yes - I think we are the inferior species!

    Hi Lucy, what a wonderful image - I hope she finds a prince with a strong set of secateurs.

    Hi Jess, interesting comment - I guess we learn from experience and by then sometimes it's too late.

    Hi Grace, lovely to hear from you, at least you might get fruit from the recalcitrant passionfruit vine? It seems we share neighbours' growing tastes, as well as the mystery plant.

    Dear Mrs B, wisteria is so tough it's scary.

    Cheers, catmint

  12. You will need to go to Blotanical Help. Ignore the red box, scroll down. Ask Stuart to change your location.

  13. "aim for influence, not control" . . . ha, it sounds like parenting! Acanthus is really pretty, but such a thug. I guess I should be glad it's not hardy here. I'm planting rhubarb instead for some big leaves.

  14. That's a giant ivy on your fence catmint. Sorry I didn't know the name. The ivy I know and that I like is those small ivy in hanging baskets.

  15. I sympathise. Three weeks ago we moved a very old Acanthus.... theoretically! The roots were amazingly long and deep. I have already seen four small clumps reappearing in the original place. The small piece we planted in a new spot is looking fine but I have visions of a large network of roots still remaining in the old spot - trouble for years to come :-(

  16. Hi Diana, thanks for your help - I got put off by the red box!

    Hi Steph, yes - ivy in hanging baskets or pots is OK - it needs to be reined in.

    Hi eg, I think you're right - you haven't seen the last of that acanthus!



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