Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Of Boston Ferns and Passion Vines



Oh here she is again, hat in hand, sheepish grin, more excuses for why it's a desert here, a parched, treeless, wordless, empty wasteland. And we're tired of hearing it. All those promises of mending ways, of discipline, of "write every day," even if its rubbish, if you keep writing down words they'll eventually sort themselves into coherence. Yawn.

No more excuses. A recent other social media experience sent me flying to the phone for damage control. I had tried to post pictures of a few quilt blocks and suddenly, unbidden, all my photos were laid bare for the entire world. Excuse me?

"What did you do mom?" my daughter chortled, "post naked selfies?"

 I was not amused. Here I was, on the edge of a heart attack and she laughs? But she sorted it and once again air flowed smootly into my lungs and out again. Me and social media? Like giving matches to a toddler. The wise old woman in my head nodded sagely. Stick to Blogger," she said.  So here I am.


 I bought a house plant when we first moved in here fifteen years ago. It failed to thrive in the house, possibly due to my penchant for forgetting to water.... so I tossed it out among the trees and palmetto palms --- organic --- it could only help enrich our sandy soil, right?

 Lo and behold, it came back to life! Decided this was a much more congenial environment --- the cool shade of trees, protection from the sun and, most importantly, from the water-withholding mad woman inside. I was happy that it was happy so I gave it an inch. But it got greedy and wanted a mile. Soon it was colonizing the entire shade area, bullying the mild mannered azaleas and sneaking out into the grass with a view to taking it over as well.

Yesterday the jig was up. I headed out to the shade garden and started yanking. The OC came out to join me.

" See what I've done?" I announced triumphantly with a sweeping gesture towards the pile of uprooted ferns.

"Why'd you do that?" he queried querulously. He liked the ferns and their pushy ways, had notions of encouraging their plans for garden domination....

"They were choking the azaleas," I said. "And anyway, you can be sure of one thing. They'll be back. But now, for a while, the azaleas can breathe."


"Hmm," he said.

"Hmm, yourself,"  I thought and waded into the palmettos to tackle the next project ---beating back the          passion vine that aims to do up in the trees what the Boston fern was doing below --- take over the world. We call this area our "shade garden" but what it really is is a clump of naturally growing Florida natives that was left untouched when the rest of the lot was cleared to build our house. It was the Bean's vision that saw what it could be. Over the years we cleared paths through it, plied it with mulch, trimmed the plants that lived there and introduced a few of more. An umbrella plant that the Bean added years ago is thriving there, cheek by jowl with native grasses, scrub oaks and palmetto palms. Maintaining it is more about controlling the abundance than coaxing it along.

Passion vine was an experiment. We planted it, just to see if it would grow, and when it did (with knobs on) I fell in love with its gorgeous blossoms.

But now that relationship has turned to love/hate as the passion vine struggles to take over the world and we struggle to confine it. It climbs up trees and weaves them together to form a dense canopy; it reaches out and wraps its tendrils around anything that doesn't move; it wends its way in and out of the rails of our neighbors' fence. The young stems look so frail and tender but give them their heads and they turn into wrist-thick ropes.

Yesterday was Come to Jesus day for the passion vine. We hacked and chopped and pulled, yards and yards of it, down from the trees. Me Tarzan, you Jane! The sun filtered through, casting it's warming rays on the azaleas' backsides which had not felt such balm in years, covered as they were in britches of darkness by their swaggering mates.

Tarzan and Jane stood back to admire their handiwork. The ferns have been beaten into submission, the jungle has been tamed, the azaleas have room to wiggle their toes and the sun can reach the floor. No more beautiful passion vine blossoms for a while but no more choked trees either.

Bring it on Spring! We're ready!

12 comments:

Thimbleanna said...

No wonder you have no time for blogging -- you're taking on the world, one plant at a time! Your photos are beautiful -- what a gorgeous backyard you have! And what I really want to know is if the OC has mastered that Tarzan yodel!!!

Elephant's Child said...

Some plants do develop triffid qualities and seem intent on world domination don't they?
Jasmine here. And four o'clock plants. And wallflowers.
And stinking rotten runner grass.
Well done you.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I'd be delighted if anything at all showed any signs of life , let alone triffid qualities , inside or out .
I'll just have to moon over your passion vine photos till Spring .

Ali Honey said...

I understand. Here it is likely to be honeysuckle or ivy climbing trees and strangling them.
There always seems to be a couple of bits one misses and they are off again....so watch your back. Think of it as a good physical work out!

Molly Bon said...

I thought since I've been MIA for so long nobody will bother even checking here. Kind of like plannig a party but not sure anyone will come....so it's really nice to see you haven't given up on me, though I wouldn't blame you if you did!

Anna Banana --- The OC is not given to such frivolity. If there's any yodelling to be done around here it'll be by me!

EC --- Triffid? I was stumped. Had to check with Mr. Google. I learn something new every day! Jasmine will be a culprit here too, soon but the scent is so divine we'll be willing to suffer!

S&S --- surely you have crocuses peeping up by now?

Ali --- Speaking of strangulation --- do you have strangler figs in NZ? I haven't seen them here (where we live) but an hour or so south I've seen many --- amazing how they grow. Plants in general are fascinating --- I was reading somewhere recently about trees and how they make room for seedlings to grow and for light to get to them. And we think we're the smart species!
As gfor the workout --- groan!

lgsquirrel said...

I have been coming here to check on you but had been disappointed. So glad you have returned from wherever it was that hijacked your photos. Strangely, I was just thinking of planting the passion vine in my modest garden.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Three .

Molly Bon said...

LGS --- Glad to see you back in circulation Squirrel! As for the passion vine --- tread softly and carry a big stick!

S&S --- See?! Won't be long now......

ganching said...

Welcome back. I always think that slash and burn is the most enjoyable form of gardening.

Pauline said...

I don't feel so badly now about not posting regularly - thanks for giving me wriggle room of my own ;) Yesterday I was chopping away at the bittersweet vines that choke trees here. Pruned back the raspberry canes, raked leaf mulch from the daffodil stems so boldly green in all that brown. Will be in FL at the end of the month. Will wave in your direction! :)

Secret Agent Woman said...

I've had plants I've had to wrestle into submission when they try to take over.

The photo thing was funny. There are photos I'd be mortified to have suddenly appear on social media!

Molly Bon said...


Ganching --- funny. I wouldn't have thought there'd be much need for slashing and burning in London!

Pauline --- Do you still have my ph. #/email? Give me a shout!

SAW --- I was unamused but not mortified. None of my pphotos would be as racy as yours!