Demolition Day

Locked in mortal combat with the most intractable, fearsome enemy you’ve ever encountered (alstroemeria), who shatters into multiples of evil when you lay glove on him. Just when you’re blinded by sweat pouring off your brow, face twisted in an agonized grimace, onto the porch stumbles a late sleeper, who nonchalantly asks:

Whattcha doin’?

What do you say? That is, if you could even speak a whole sentence between heaving gasps for breath.

Ah, nothing to see here, just a little gardening.

I often get the sense that nongardeners consider gardening a wimpy, effete, puttering, motorized pursuit. Epic battles, triumphs and defeats, heartache, epiphanies — all this can be found at the business end of a shovel.

To eradicate the alstro, the soil in this area has now effectively been double-dug and every bit of white, finger-sized tuber I could find removed. There’s certain to be recurrence but, hopefully, it will now be easily containable. (Optimism being the sincerest form of denial.)

The Euphorbia mellifera has a bit more elbow room.


But the demolition was necessary chiefly to safeguard the Monterey cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Citriodora,’ one of three planted against the fence for privacy screening. Slow growing to 30 feet.


One cypress had been infiltrated by the alstro roots, and I considered holding off on replanting that single cypress and growing only annuals for a season to keep on top of any regrowth of the alstro, but then opted to replant the cypress and watch the soil closely. As one of three, I hated to see one cypress lose a growing season and be out of symmetry with the other two in size. The Siam Ruby banana was moved here, too, everything mulched and watered, and now the vigilance begins.

Later that night my mom came by for dinner and couldn’t stop talking about the vase of flowers I had brought her earlier in the week, how she couldn’t believe they came from my garden and wanted to see the plant. Alas, there was not a trace of the alstro left for proof. Nothing to see here.

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