about this blog



I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

violent violets and spider palace

I have a new hate in the garden and it's for violets. I think they should be called violents. They pretend to be pretty and scented and demure. Well, I'm going to blow their cover! They coil their tendrils around other plants and whenever possible strangle them, taking their water and pulling their roots out of the soil.





In February 2009 the cubby was removed (mistake? maybe? I told you change was inevitable!) and still the fence is naked and glaring.  I had a vision of a grevillea room. Firstly it was to be Grevillea Moonlight until I learned they are fickle and need full sun. Then I planted Grevillea shiressi, Blue Grevillea, but I am getting impatient and think maybe I should go for the simple and easy solution of continuing the Pittosporum hedge. But one of the Grevilleas has become Spider Palace, so it is unthinkably unethically horrible to displace them simply for my design peccadillos.  I suppose in the scheme of garden things two years is not a long time ...  mumble grumble.

cubby pre 2009
bare fence where cubby was
Spider Palace
Australian Magpie  (Gymnorhina tibicen)

18 comments:

  1. I thought I was the one who didn't appreciate violets. They are taking over. I'm throwing many of them into the compost that way their death will give life to others - instead of their life giving death.... youknowwhatImean?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I obviously haven't had my violets for long enough to unappreciate them! Now i'm worried what the future will hold! I know what you mean about changing the design, wishing things would grow faster, mumble grumble! :) Gardening always wants more patience than I have!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The heat and dryness of our normal summers usually keeps the violets under control (ie practically kills them off)but this cool, wet summer has been to their liking and they are taking over, as you say. But they're still not as bad as Lemon Balm...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had started to think like you Catmint, about all the violets that were taking over the garden, until I found that they are the larval food plant of one of our beautiful butterflies! Now , any unwanted ones get planted in the woodland where they can't do too much damage.

    ReplyDelete
  5. As a collector, grower and lover of violets I have to disagree with your comments.As for the spider have you actually seen one in there? It sure looks like the dreaded web spinning caterpillar and moth to me which attacks Grevilleas, Leptospermum and Melaleuca.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have a love/hate relationship with violets in my garden as well though they are a host plant for fritillary butterflies here. Last summer I ripped out a big patch that was strangling my lady's mantle. I actually placed them behind the shed thinking they're so smug that they will put down roots there. Interesting spider palace!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the reminder about the violents (haha - love that twist on the name). I planted some and need to remember NOT to spread their seeds all over the garden, just keep them in one place so they don't take over. Your 'bare' fence has lots of pretty green around, I think, but it will be even better when you finish your plans.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dear CJ, I definitely share your un-appreciation of violets. But I never put them in the compost because they have little seeds attached and they will give ongoing life to themselves!

    Dear Holley, before and after photos do help the mumbling and grumbling a bit.

    dear Lyn, I think lemon balm is like mint, and I've never grown it outside a pot. Sounds like you have dared to live dangerously ...

    dear Pauline, I think probably in Australia that may not be true since they are not native to here. But even if I wanted to remove them all, they always come back anyway.

    dear Ian, thank you for this most interesting comment. I guess we are coming from different positions. I am not a plant collector, I am trying to create as naturalistic an ecosystem as possible in a suburban garden, So I try to control things that take over, like violets. I do watch spiders but have never seen any that do damage. Only once did caterpillars eat most of the leaves of a small eucalypt (leucoxylon) but they grew back the following year. Earlier I had a terrible infestation of black vine weevils and bought some beneficial nematodes that got rid of them. Apart from that no insects have been destructive or in plague numbers- touch wood.

    Dear Kathy, your comment is like Pauline's - there's an important place for violets, but you won't let them take over. I'm so pleased you like the Spider Palace. I adore it, and visit it often.

    Hi VW, the trouble is, you know me, I don't seem to finish my plans for years and years, and decades and decades. But I do feel on the whole it's getting better. Thanks for the comment.

    cheers, catmint

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your comment about violets made me laugh! I have mine planted under a constantly thirsty river birch that keeps them in check by hogging all the water. When they do make a run for it and start taking over other parts of the garden, I just rip them out. There are enough under the river birch to keep the butterflies and me happy but not so many they're taking over. I wield a mighty spade!! :o)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have the same hate for wild Vinca! It gets everywhere! And as for spiders and that little shot of the webery....no thank you:) Termites are bad enough here.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dear Tammy, you've definitely outsmarted those violets.

    Dear RB, At the time, the webery seemed very romantic, but I think I'm starting to get over it ...

    cheers, catmint

    ReplyDelete
  12. The spider webs are creepy! On the other hand I love the magpie. So cool! We don't have anything like it here.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I like that you put the life of your garden ahead of its design Catmint - brave and ethical and tender.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well, your fence does look sturdy. Violets invasive, nah! well perhaps its the cool conditions of north east Scotland which keeps them beautiful and in check.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm glad you reminded me of what violets can do in the garden. I had some once and yes, they kept popping up in inconvenient places!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Tina, Magpies are I suppose easier to love than spiders, but i do find spiders fascinating.

    Hi Faisal, thank you. But I am feeling irritated that the young gevillea isn't looking so healthy. It could be that it's just not a robust species, I love grevillea flowers and have never succeeded in naturalizing them. So I shouldn't blame the spiders.

    Hi Alastair, I wish my violets had a passport, I'd happily pay for a ticket for them to immigrate to Scotland.

    Dear Elaine, believe me, this is more than politely popping up in inconvenient places. This is more like the violet equivalent of terrorism!

    cheers dears, catmint

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have been pulling handfuls of violets out over the weekend. They seem to thrive on neglect and always self seed next to some poor delicate plant that they then proceed to choke to death.

    ReplyDelete
  18. HI Easy, beautifully demonstrates Darwinian survival of the fittest doesn't it? cheers, cm

    ReplyDelete

Popular Posts