Invasive plants escape! Threaten native woodland! 

It sounds  like a headline from my old News promo writing days–But it’s true.  Invasive plants are a huge problem across the country–and right in my own back yard.

That’s thugs–not slugs in the title of this post.  These rampant plants know no boundaries and smother most plants  in their path. 

Just check out these photos of my neighbor Mike’s backyard, where Algerian Ivy  is racing for the  sun.  What fool unleashed this killer  plant on Mike’s woodland–which is full of  beautiful native gingers, by the way??  Well, I’m afraid that fool was me.  

Me bad.  Me very bad.  Ok–I was a fairly new gardener at the time and I did grow up next door to a college campus with ivy covered walls.  But colleges have something that I don’t have in my little Apex woodland–besides stately brick buildings and sweeping lawns–Colleges have a staff of grounds keepers.  And they work  5 days a week, 8 hours a day to keep plants in their place. 

That Ivy got out of bounds fast.  So I killed it, first by pulling, then with Round up, then  I pulled some more.   I was vigilant.  I carried an old kitchen knife in the yard and dug out every new sprout I saw.   

It worked.  After several treatments, Algerian Ivy was gone from my woods and I was feeling pretty smug, until one day I happened to glance over the reed  fence and see that the Ivy had just moved next door. 

So I’m at it again–this labor intensive process of pulling, digging, spraying and digging again.   And I’m getting really good at it.  Chalk that up to lots of practice.   I’m afraid Ivy wasn’t the only invasive plant I  foolishly introduced in my yard. 

There was–

The Periwinkle, a gentle little name for a devil of a plant.  Yes, it has nice blue blooms but periwinkle is  not so sweet when it’s climbing into your shrubs and smothering your ferns.

The Lirope (aka monkey grass).  I can’t believe I every paid money for this.  I rip it up every winter and I spent last year’s NCAA tournament, listening  to games on my Walkman while digging lirope seedlings out of the lawn. 

The Yellow Archangel my friend Robert warned me about…but oh, it was so pretty.   I can control it–I thought–

Get rid of these thugs.  Spray them,  smother them with cardboard over the winter then spray them again.    I mulch over the card board so it won’t look so ugly.  And  I keep pulling and digging…all the time, especially now when the ground is soft.     

But it’s worth the work.  North Carolina is home to many beautiful wild flowers.  We need to protect and preserve them.    So be careful in your planting .  Think kudzu.   And if you make a mistake, like I did more than once–(ok–four times actually), be a good gardener–Fix it.