Blackcap bramble, wild grape vines, Canadian thistles, a few seedling asparagus plants and quack grass were all fighting for dominion. Wild morning glory, creeping Charlie and bridal veil weed were making good on their nature to climb over and smother all the other plants. My daughter Tammie and I stood in the driveway next to the house inspecting the tangled mess of vegetation, which had once been a beautiful flowerbed.
Gloomily, I pointed out, “The weeds have nearly smothered the old-fashioned rose bush and I can’t even see the hosta.”
Stepping a little closer, Tammie exclaimed, “I see a hosta, but it looks like someone took shears to it!
Pulling tall weeds aside, I examined the plant before explaining, “Lots of deer come through my yard at night. They seem to think the hostas are salad bowls for them to snack on.”
Shaking her head, Tammie marveled, “It’s a wonder they can find them in this mess.”
Searching the gone-to-seed flowerbed for signs of an Anthony Waterer bush, clumps of stella-de-oro and other lilies, I reminisced, “When this flowerbed was new, it had decorative stone paths and there weren’t any weeds at all.”
Tammie questioned, “I remember that. What happened?”
Frowning, I answered, “I guess leaves from the flowering crabapple tree fell on the stones and composted into new soil. Then seeds carried by the wind and in bird droppings grew in the new soil. At first there weren’t too many weeds and all I had to do was pull them out once or twice a summer. Each year more and more weeds started to come up.”
“But look at this mess! How did the flowerbed get to this point?” my daughter protested.
“I honestly don’t know!” I exclaimed. “About two years ago when the blackcap bramble and wild grapes started to grow, it seemed as though someone had fertilized all the weeds. This spring, just five months ago, I pulled out all the weeds I could and cut the rest down to ground level.”
Surprised, Tammie asked, “Really? Everything grew back so big!”
Nodding, I admitted, “It’s a nightmare! I’m throwing in the towel. I can’t win this fight. I’ve decided to hire a landscaper to come and turn most of this area back into lawn.”
Fifteen years ago, it had seemed like such a good idea to hire a landscaper to transform this part of my yard. Plastic sheets were laid down and tons of decorative rock were poured over them. Soil islands provided me with defined flowerbeds for spirea, roses, irises and lilies.
The center-piece of the stone flowerbed was an ancient flowering crabapple tree, which began to deteriorate a year after the stones were laid, unfortunately. For the last two years, winter storms sent some of its dead limbs crashing to the ground.
A week after Tammie and I discussed my flowerbed from hell, I called landscapers and requested estimates for its repair. The answer; it would cost much more than originally! When the workers came, I clung to what my late husband had liked to say, “It’s only money.”
The flowering crabapple tree was in such poor shape, I ordered it cut down, but asked for a sucker growing straight up out of the tree’s low crotch to be spared. When the job was done, I looked at the puny sprout in the center of the two stumps and exclaimed, “That looks like survival after a disaster. I can relate to the little tree!”
Instead of a large flowerbed area, I had the workmen make a long, narrow curving flowerbed between my upper and lower driveways. I didn’t want any landscape fabric used and had the bed covered with a thick layer of mulch. As soon as the work was done, I went out and planted 75 bulbs of crocus, daffodils and mystery lilies.
Snow covers the new flowerbed now. But I dream about the flowers I hope to see in the spring. I imagine rows of purple, yellow, blue and white, perky crocus; yellow nodding, saucy daffodils; and clumps of mystery lilies teasingly showing leaves in the spring. They will completely disappear then, until September when tall stems topped with pink blossoms suddenly appear. Between spring and fall the salvaged Anthony Waterer and four new, hardy, colored hydrangeas will provide drifts of pink blossoms. In my dreams, there are no weeds!