Monday, March 28, 2016

Turf War


Like so many lawns in the Mid-Atlantic, my back yard has become a war zone - albeit an aesthetically pleasing one.  Some previous occupant of my house planted spring bulbs years ago, and Kali and I continue to enjoy the vernal exuberance of grape hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses, and the delicate blue flowers picture above, chionodoxa or glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa siehei).
More recently, the extremely aggressive non-native buttercup lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) managed to get a foothold in the lawn.  Lesser celandine prefers moist riparian areas, but once it gets established, it will grow in just about any situation.  (Naive visitors used to ask me if they could dig up a few plants to add to their garden; I assented, but always warned the folks that the plant would take over anywhere it was planted.  I suspect that most people now recognize the plant's aggressiveness because I almost never get such requests any more.)

It will be interesting to see if one or the other of these plants will win this slow-motion combat.  I once asked Pennsylvania's premier botanist if celandine really does exclude other plants because it is only a obvious player on the ecological stage for about a month, after which it disappears until next spring.  The botanist assured me that celandine definitely excludes other plants.  Perhaps there's an unseen, subsurface front in this war as well. 

4 comments:

Mark P said...

At least your invasives are relatively attractive. I suppose dandelions are attractive when they bloom, but we get all kinds of strange, low-growing weeds that choke everything. They may be native, but they are also invasive

I unintentionally brought some vinca to our yard with some plants from my mother's yard. The small-leaf variety is pretty easy to control, but somehow the all-small-leaf vinca we brought started developing into a larger-leafed variety that is really an aggressive grower. I do my best to pull them up, but they take a lot of discouraging.

Scott said...

Mark: One of our neighbors intentionally planted vinca in her woodland and it has spread to cover dozens of acres in her woods (and ours). There is nothing on the ground except a carpet of vinca. Pull out all you can! I'm about ready to use herbicide. (Roundup on warmer winter days is supposed to be effective, and it won't kill any wildflowers that just might be able to persist in the vineland since the wildflowers wouldn't be growing in the winter.)

Doug Marcum said...

Hey Scott! Haven't been on in a while. Nice post! Lesser Celandine is pretty terrible around here and it does cover everything!!!

Scott said...

Doug: The celandine expands more here every year; it's a menace. I miss hearing about northeast Ohio; I haven't been "home" in over three years, so if you start to post again, I'll be sure to "tune in" to get my "fix."