It’s Not Easy Being Green

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Greenery in the yard

The mass of greenery is actually carefully cultivated chaos. I favor pachysandra, elderberry, sweet pepper bush, something evergreen with stinky white flowers, ornamental cherry trees, hosta, and the cedar tree. I rip out ivy, green brier, honeysuckle, errant maple and oak, and bittersweet.

Pachysandra is a soft evergreen ground cover, which thrives in this climate and requires very little maintenance. It does not compete well against ivy, which is also a soft evergreen, but always advancing into new territory. Ivy will pop the shingles off your siding, and lead spiders and other insects in through your basement windows. Ivy will swallow up its tender neighboring plants, and even overwhelm a mature tree. I feel a bit sad to admit that ivy’s only crime is its success, but that is how it is in the suburban garden.

Elderberry is from Sylvan Nursery and it is already doubled in number and grown dramatically. Some is tall and leggy. The shrub I cut down last fall hoping to transplant is now short and dense. I am going to leave it to see how it berries. It is the berries I want, for Elderberyy Wine. Maybe someday I will be overrun with Elderberry, but for now, I am encouraging it.

Sweet Pepper is my favorite woodlands plant. In summer it makes white spike flowers with a heady aroma. I hope we get enough shrubs going to choke us all to heaven with that scent. Even better, its leaves are whimsical lobes that grow so densely, they create a compact block for privacy. In Autumn, they color from true red to yellow and every shade of orange. In winter, their skeleton flowers add interest to the yard. Sweet Pepper does not compete well against honeysuckle, which presently offers sweet suckles, but looks mangy in its other stages. Where both are growing, I cut back honeysuckle.

One scrawny pea vs two thriving peas

Why are there two hearty pea plants on the right and a scrawny nonstarter on the left? Same soil, light, water? Why is growing from seed so random? And how can I hedge my bets? Real gardeners will choose one plant where two are growing. Eek! Snip off a healthy plant? I can’t.

Brazen Bunny chewing old roots
Brazen Bunny

And then there is the Brazen Bunny.


Barbie Burr

Barbie Darwin Burr was born in La Jolla, California into a Navy family. Moving every year made gardening difficult, but not impossible for her father, a disciple of Scott and Helen Nearing and a man with a vast ability to imagine and create.

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