Preferably dead. [Remember those FBI Most Wanted lists at the Post Office? Next time you’re in line for twenty minutes, leave your small child as a place holder and go and snoop through the small ream of paper that includes some of the worst criminals in the world, pictures included.] After hours of weed pulling on Saturday, inspiration hit. Why not write about my top five most hated/dangerous weeds? Which posed a dilemma. Now that I had weeded, where could I find an intact specimen of said weeds for a picture? My imperfection (or laziness) saved me. There were indeed weeds left in the yard. I just had to crawl into some tight spots to get a decent shot of them. So without further ado, the top five weeds in my Alaska yard this year are:
1. Taraxacum officinale or the old standby dandelion. Kids and bees love it. The dandies in the turf grass I have occasionally gone to battle with, but it’s the one’s in the gravel and the beds that drive me nuts. And it’s not as if there are two seeds per plant.
2. Prunus padus commutata, or the ever popular (OK, in zone 3) May Day tree, whose white flower petals are currently blowing off the tree and around my yard like a summer snow. It’s a quick grower, quicker than birch even. In our cold, dry climate (and with our cool soils) there aren’t too many trees that make fast growth. On a blank lot (which so many new houses are after the builder scrapes off all the vegetation and trees) the need for shade trees (or any trees for that matter) is paramount. And this one works great with one teeny, tiny, little caveat. It seeds like the great plant Apocalypse is happening tomorrow. And it’s seedlings are rather tenacious for their size. You have been warned.
3. Campanula rapunculoides and you’d think with a common name like creeping bellflower, people would be wary. Or not. I admit the purple flower is attractive, but is that any reason to invite this plant thug into the garden? This is the hardest weed to pull and grows back the fastest. I hate, loathe, detest, and abhor it. And where did I acquire it?
That’s right, next door. It is posing with some turf grass and about ten thousand of it’s cohorts in the background. Short of secretly squirting Roundup along the fence line, what can you do?
4. Campanula persicifolia, the peach-leaved bellflower, and what a beauty it was in it’s first years in my garden. I had both the blue and the white colored plants. Though the white is almost completely gone with diligent weeding, the blue has staying power. It hides amongst the blueberry bushes, Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue,’ and under Pinus aristata. It grows back if you just rip the top part and don’t remove the roots, but not as quickly as Campanula number 3. It spreads more slowly as well. I know when I’ve missed a patch because it sends up two or three foot spikes of blue, bell-shaped flowers in summer. Can’t hide those under the Geraniums now, can they?
5. Linaria vulgaris, also known by the rather fattening name of butter-and-eggs. You pull it and it comes back. Forever. Well, perhaps I exaggerate, but just. As a kid I used to love picking the yellow flowers and biting the end of the spur off to suck out the miniscule bit of nectar. Well, like so many tastes, it has changed as I have become an adult. Hate it. Please do your neighborhood a favor if you have it and mow or pull it. In a sad bit of irony, I have seen tended beds of this in town…it is in fact NOT a yellow snapdragon, despite the resemblance. A terrible seeder and not bad at creeping around by rhizomes, too. Check out the USDA website for a better picture that includes the yellow flower.
That was my top five for this year, mind you. Just like the FBI list, next year there might be other (garden) low-life criminals in the running. Oh joy.
What are your worst weeds?