Wednesday, March 7, 2012

a progress report

Do you remember my goal to get rid of the Bishops Weed this winter? Well, since there are only 2 weeks left of winter (!!!) I thought I’d better publish a progress report. Or maybe I should call it a “lack of progress” report?

I didn’t get started until the first week of February, and then there was travel to Seattle for the garden show, the Portland garden show, and rain…lots and lots of rain. I’ve only managed to get out there and hack away for part of four days. And it’s slow going! A 4-6 hour stint only gets me through a patch about 2ft wide and the length of the planting bed. This is what I managed to accomplish last Sunday (the bare soil), my prior work is on the right, and the part yet to be done on the left. Sunday was a productive day!
Did you notice my faithful assistant Lila is yawning? The tedious work is even tiring her out. For the most part the roots are easy to spot. They are substantial and look like bean sprouts…

Plus they tend to run along in the top 3-5” of the soil. But then every once and awhile I come to a mass that I can only assume must have been an original mother plant, the ones that were planted and started this mess. Those have thick roots that go down down down…further than I have managed to successfully dig. Did I get enough? We’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath. I think this battle will be waged all summer.

Since I raked the gravel to the side, and not wanting the bare soil I was working to turn into a kitty poop depository I even pulled out the dreaded tarp for awhile, in fact we had a tarp in our front yard for a week! Such a proud moment, at least it’s brown and not blue!
I started out thinking I could dig in such a way as to keep the other plants in the area, but I’m discovering that might be impossible. I dug out this old Kniphofia caulescens, I think I can successfully remove the soil around its base and get all the bad roots out (Speaking of the roots, that’s them curled up where there was a hollow in the bottom of the cement block, nasty!).
The peonies however are goners. Their soft octopus-like roots were covered and I just couldn’t get them free. Ah well, they were inherited and while I loved them they didn’t really fit in the garden. The next section contains a Hebe…
…and a few Yuccas, we’ll see it those are salvageable (thankfully it hasn’t gotten as far as the Fatsia japonica)
Sometimes I can get into the rhythm of the project and feel a small sense of triumph...I will WIN! Sometimes, like when I look at this…
…and realize it’s everywhere and it’s already growing, I get overwhelmed.

Given that the weed is still mostly dormant, and what's coming up is actually still "pretty," I think my real sensation of moving ahead is coming from the removing the cement pieces I’ve hated since we bought the house. In this part of the garden they serve absolutely no purpose and just create visual clutter.
So I keep at it, this week promises a stretch of dry (sunny!) days and I'll be attacking it hard. I may not finish before the end of winter, but since the EVIL WEED isn’t going anywhere I can just keep on working right on into Spring, lucky me.

23 comments:

  1. That stuff does look evil with those thick roots.

    Good progress so far. All progress is good with stuff like that, it's been there a while and will take a while to remove it.

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    1. Just in taking a lunch break from the BWP (bishops weed project) I've discovered that it's still thriving beneath the cement pad that the A/C sits on! I dug back as far as I could but wow, gonna be fighting that bit forever...

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  2. Job well done so far and good luck in getting rid of what's left. Even if a few still pop out in the summer as long as you're on top of the weeding it will significantly weaken the remaining ones, and hopefully kill them.

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    1. Thank you, I do remember transplanting a plant to another section of the garden from this one. I thought I got all the BW roots but then it started to pop up and I just kept pulling. It took a year but now there have been no signs of it for two years so this does give me hope!

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  3. Yikes. Bamboo rhizomes are easy compared to that stuff!

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    1. Ha! Who would have thought right? At least their so large you know what your looking for.

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  4. Keep at Loree - don't feel defeated. You will win the battle and the war, eventually. I've been there with this awful plant - it was everywhere when we bought our house. Removal was a mind-numbing job but I'm so happy I did it. You're going to earn that first cocktail on your patio when warmer weather arrives! - Lisa

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    1. Thanks Lisa, after my post yesterday I'm thinking a Frosty Blue Agave might be an immediate reward...not that I'll skip the first cocktail either!

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  5. Ugh, this looks terrible. This makes me feel better about my battles with wild morning glory and blackberry. I had luck trimming individual canes, then painting the end with roundup and covering it will plastic (if there was a chance of rain). I'd wait about a week, then yank as much of the rootball as possible and hope that the roundup worked and didn't affect anything else. It worked on blackberry but I don't know if it would work here. I'm sorry :(

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    1. I too battled Morning Glory, it was a much smaller infestation and compared to this easy. I tried repeated applications of Roundup last spring and it would knock this back for about a week and then it would rebound. I was afraid of how many times I might have to spray, 30 times? 50? And would it kill other things? Your method sounds like a winner and I will be spraying everything that returns (because I know it will) with gleeful abandon!

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  6. After finishing this project, I hope you do treat yourself to some new plants! Yikes! You'll feel so good when it's done :) Cheers, Jenni

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    1. I keep telling myself that. When we were in the midst of putting in our patio and weekend after weekend was spent digging out soil I just kept thinking about how nice it was going to be to sit on the patio and enjoy a dinner in the summertime. It was worth it, and this will be too...thank you for the reminder. Oh and remember to tell yourself that when you're knee deep in house projects!

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  7. At least we're finally having a few sunny days , so much better for these awful jobs. I've still got more Vinca major to pull out.

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    1. So true! It's nice to be able to attack it hard and know I can anticipate a day of work and not fear the rain will start falling. Good luck with your Vinca, funny...I pulled Vinca out of part of this same planting area our first summer in this house.

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  8. I've had similar experiences removing Physalis (Japanese lanterns) and Lysimachia clethroides. The Physalis in particular was crazy. I had a pile of roots like that measured about 10 square feet! Not a fun project.

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    1. Luckily I'm sending out my roots in the weekly yard waste pick up so I won't have to stare down a 10 x 10 pile!

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  9. I have similar problems. Nutgrass (sedge) is my nemesis. And also Chameleon Plant(not sure the Genus)which is very noxious. Hang in!

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    1. Did you plant these evil plants or were they inherited?

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  10. Your dogged determination to get out the Evil Weed is impressive. I'm SO glad I didn't plant BW when I knew much less and it looked like the perfect shade-loving groundcover. I'm with you in spirit as I battle bermuda grass in my front yard beds and blackberry in between the neighbor's garage and our retaining wall...

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    1. When I first read your comment I was going to reply saying something abut how good it looks, and how well it behaves, on the shady north side of my mothers house. However I talked with her last night and learned that it actually is not well behaved and she has to battle with chemical warfare every year to keep it in check. So now it's official...I have nothing good to say about this plant!

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  11. Thank Flora I didn't bring any of this home from Idaho...Kathy's was so pretty. Ya never know what evil lurks in the heart of the prettiest plants.

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    1. True, so true. As I've been digging I've been thinking a lot about my Sweet Woodruff (Galium) that I planted in the back garden. Will I someday be cursing myself? Will another gardener spend hours digging it out. Only time will tell.

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  12. I sympathise! I'm still pulling out Wisteria suckers six years after removing the beastie. Here Campanula poscharskyana is a nasty thug. I have been pulling that out for 10 years, and just RoundUpped some this morning.

    Sometimes all you can do is move.

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