Rhizome Alert Posted on July 1, 2007

Showers on thirsty soil have their immediate result in opportunistic weeds. A hoe is all you need to see them off. The first penetrating rain of May, though, showed me how insufficient our efforts had been in tackling the real problems. Two spits and a bit we dug down, and
pored over every crumb of soil for signs of roots. But nothing will eradicate two plants I introduced in good faith and innocently allowed to make themselves at home.

The worst is Acanthus, specifically A. spinosus, whose leaves Athenian sculptors so admired.‘Rhizomatous, suitable for a spacious border’ said the dictionary, perhaps meaning the parched tribal areas squatted by al-Qaeda. It roots are deep enough to laugh off Acropolitan droughts, but any shred of the brittle white rhizomes is a snake in the grass, a spy in the cab – what is the metaphor I am looking for to suggest a lurking threat able to upset your universe?

I used Roundup as well. I stopped short of six inches of concrete, knowing that sculptural shoots would eventually force
their way through. More in faith than hope I planted heavyweight, soil-smothering favourites in the deep-dug soil. The rain came and with it those dark, crinkly, infinitely sinister green shoots.

The other one? Lysimachia clethroides, the Chinese loosestrife, pretty in its tidy pinky-green leaves and curling heads of pure-white flowers.‘Not so invasive as L. punctata’ say the books. Not so invasive
as Acanthus, I’ll grant you.

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