My gardening experience consists of house plants, a couple of years sharing a Midwestern community garden plot, containers on a deck, and the ivy-choked, slug-ridden shade “garden” that came with my first Brooklyn apartment. (Must find some pictures to post.)
The community garden plot was tilled under annually, meaning that everything had to be cleaned out at the end of the season, ergo no perennials. (Unlike my mother’s “allotment“, located in a park across from my old high school with an amazing view of the Edinburgh sky line and the annual fireworks display. It sports a greenhouse and she has planted raspberry canes, strawberries, and even small trees.)
All this to say that I have no experience with a year-round garden. Awareness of the extent of my ignorance dawned on closing day while walking around the yard and being shown examples of the dread poison ivy. I’m Scottish. We don’t have poison ivy. Why is it so innocuous-looking? With a name like that I expect something evil-looking, not something that might be something else, or might not, to which I might have a reaction, but might not, and which appears to be eating into three sides of the yard, but might not be. I get it now. The fear lies in its powers of sneakiness.
On to the giant bushy things. The leaves look a little like lilac, but I knew they weren’t lilacs (one point to me). What are they? Are they lovingly-planted bushes or are they agressive weeds? I tried finding them online and found this page showing foliage that looks similar. Ha ha! It’s Eastern Redbud, I thought. I’m very clever.
Just to confirm, I posted this picture for identification on the forum over at the newly minted, already fabulous A Way to Garden blog.
Within hours came an answer, complete with link. Japanese Knotweed is a “very aggressive species” listed in one book as “a noxious weed.” My gardening encyclopedia says that if planted in good soil it can take years to eradicate. Good lord. So much for the pretty Eastern Redbud.
I comforted myself with my ability to identify a peony, two small raspberry bushes:
and a whole buncha “weeds”.