Get Outta The Yard!



The Wall Street Journal has a fun piece today about invasive bamboo and a slide show that includes other invasives, too. (Sorry, the link won’t work if you’re not a subscriber.)

I have personal experience with two of the invasives in the slide show:

Garlic mustard, which blooms so fiendishly early that I’m always busy in the vegetable garden when it needs to be yanked.  It also continues blooming, as the Journal mentions, even after you pull it out of the ground, and it blooms when it’s just a few inches high, so it’s absurdly prolific.  At least it’s yankable, unlike

Purple loosestrife, which laughs at Round-Up and being cut back before flowering and whose roots are so strong that I’m unable to remove them even with a pick-ax and lots of martial-arts-like shouting and grunting.  I’m completely stumped by the loosestrife around my pond and have reconciled myself to a color scheme that takes it into account.


  1. That purple loosestrife is gorgeous, and I might be tempted to tolerate it, too. The garlic mustard is everywhere here in Maryland, and I just wish I could get some of the lazy homeowners in my development (many with woodland yards and a stream) to pull the stuff. When we moved in, we had about 1000 square feet of the stuff, thick as carpet. I’ve managed to clear most of it, but I hear seeds from this pest will germinate even when they are 100 years old, so I guess I’ll be pulling it from my property until I don’t live here anymore. Maryland (Patapsco State Park) has a Garlic Mustard challenge – with prizes going to the one who pulls the most. It’s May 4 this year:

  2. What a fun link! Great to know that it’s edible. I’m not so plagued with it here–but at my last house, it was a full-time job. Apparently, I should have been sauteeing it.

  3. Garlic mustard and purple loosestrife are both well publicized no-nos, but always good to see recurring advisement to rid them from your patch of planet. To the poster above, please try to not give into the urge to “tolerate” purple loosestrife–here in Minnesota, land of 10,000 (actually 12,000) lakes and 300,000 sloughs, it is greatly disrupting the harmony of the eco system.

    What I love more, though, are the fiendish invasives NOT on the s*#% lists, and that are sold to unsuspecting homeowners at nurseries. The first artemisia I bought, 20 years ago, was Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Silver Queen.’ I planted three, the next spring they emerged softly and looked grand, until about July 4th when their leader blew a whistle and 18 more emerged, between and well beyond the original three.

    They emerged so violently, clods of dirt were flung. This ‘Queen’ is not interested in expansion so much as world domination. In the next few years it emerged six feet out into my lawn, erupted from the center of countless other docile perennials, and crossed the street without looking both ways.

    Dig it up and leave any trace of underground stolon and it comes back even more pissed off. It took me five years to get rid of it all, and that was just from my property. It called me names, looked back and gave me the finger as the herd disappeared over the horizon.

    Don’t get me started about the time a nursery sold me snow on the mountain …

  4. This is exactly what “native-plant enthusiasts” are talking about!

    Take a vibrant, colorful, tapestry of diverse plants…and replace it with deadly monotony.

    Where these plants live… virtually nothing else does. I’ve seen hundreds of acres of Garlic Mustard, where a few struggling vines of Poison Ivy were all that disturbed the mat of Mustard.

    Purple Loosestrife leaves a wetlands dead and sterile. Virtually nothing on this continent eats it, or lives in, or on, it. One might as well replace the landscape with plastic!

    Please keep these stories in mind. There are other “purple loosestrifes” out there (Dames Rocket?).

    If you have plants that nothing eats… there is the distinct possibility that nothing may control them…and EVERYTHING needs controls!

  5. My most immediate battle against ecological invasives is waged with english ivy and climbing euonymus. I’ve cheered one neighbor on in her truly heroic effort to strip the trees in her yard of the evil stuff and to keep at it, but most of the neighbors can’t be bothered. My immediate neighbors, fortunately, don’t care that I go out and pry it off of their trees for them.

  6. I echo Renegade Gardener’s plea and here’s why. One purple loosestrife plant can generate over 1 million seeds – YIKES! I feel for those of you battling it. Good luck.

    Another healthy breeder is butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii. One inflorescence can generate 250,000 seeds.

    As for garlic mustard, there is evidence that it is allelopathic, which just aids it in its battle for world domination bwaaaahahaha. It’s getting a foothold in our area and spreading rapidly.

    I’m off to go subscribe to the WSJ to read your linky-link.

  7. Blackberries are my bane. It propagates like mad by seeds, any piece of vine that hits dirt, and by underground runners. Tough thorny vines like barbed wire and roots like oak roots.

  8. In Saratoga Springs, my neighbors complain about a thug called Bishop’s weed–also sold at nurseries as an ornamental, especially the variegated variety. But I laugh at them–Bishop’s weed is yankable!

    I would need a backhoe to get rid of the mature purple loosestrife around my pond. It responds to nothing, including me hacking at it with a pick and screaming. Some day, I will dredge that pond and it will go. But for now, I’m only one person, and I try to keep my weight under 120 pounds. Purple loosestrife is just bigger than me.

  9. Two words: Japanese knotweed.

    I do not have it in my yard, thank the gods, but it is invading and destroying many woodlands and parks in the Northeast. Franklin Park in Boston is being decimated by it. The volunteer brigades sent in to hack away at it are probably doing more harm than good.

    Lots of purple loosestrife on the roadsides here in Albany. Damn, the roots are hard to eradicate. I had ONE of them in my Fens garden. It spreads there like wildfire because of the watery conditions and some of the more neglected garden plots fill up with it.

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