I have a love-hate relationship with my garden.
Mostly I love it. I adore it. About 8 years ago we decided to eliminate the front lawn in favour of a garden. It’s not an easy feat, honestly, to rid yourselves of that much grass but grass is just so…boring. And not exactly the best thing for the environment. Not that we ever put a lot of effort into our grass – John would cut it, that’s about it – and we certainly didn’t fertilize it, but in time it started to become an eyesore, so we layered newspaper on top of it and wet it down really well with water then added a layer of topsoil and finally a layer of mulch and ta-da! Instant garden. In reality, it was not at all instant, the process took the better part of a month to really get done, but still. No more grass.
Then came the task of filling it which is probably my favourite part. I chose purple coneflowers, shasta daisies, poppies, a bleeding heart bush, hostas, a gorgeous peony a neighbour gave me that I nursed back to health. The grass would occasionally poke through but it is fairly easy to spot and as long as you get to it right away it can be eliminated on a pretty regular basis.
Eventually, we added cosmos, which are delightful and bees and finches and butterflies love them and they are easy to grow and they spread everywhere (you’re welcome, neighbours!) and overall my garden was off to a great start. Until The Vine showed up.
The Vine (I could look up what it’s actually called but I don’t want to give it a name) is the part of the garden that I hate. This vine is the bane of my existence and no I’m not being dramatic. It parks itself as close as possible to the plants I actually want and if you don’t eradicate it immediately, it creeps and climbs and wraps itself around these plants, virtually choking them to death. It’s vicious and brutal and last year I had to pull out the massive lavender plant that was so beautiful and provided me with so many lovely blooms for arrangements and for drying and it was heartbreaking. So now? Oh it’s personal, vine.
And here is the thing about weeds: they don’t know they’re weeds. Well, technically they don’t know anything, they’re plants, but you know what I mean. They’re struggling to survive just like my precious peony and my poppies are, and, if truth be known, they’re actually doing a way better job of it.
A couple of years ago we arrived home from our cottage where we had spent a particularly rainy vacation week to find that this vine had engulfed the entire garden and I was horrified to think of the work ahead of me. And so I put on my gardening clothes and got to it, but I noticed something I’d never seen before – flowers. It’s a flowering vine, the blossoms like tiny morning glories, pale pink and white and absolutely charming. And yet, I was ruthless in their removal. They aren’t supposed to be there.
This year might be the worst year for it ever (I mean this is pretty much the worst year for everything else, why not weed vines?!?) and past me would have wept, seeing half my garden covered in it and knowing that I will be spending my lunch hour and every lunch hour for the rest of the damn summer unwrapping its horrid tentacles from my beautiful plants and cursing while stabbing my Garden Claw into it to twist its evil roots into oblivion. (my gardening aesthetic is violence, as you can tell.)
But current me? Current me feels a little more sympathy this year, honestly. Current me will still attempt an eradication because I still do love my peony and my hostas and everything else, and I would hate to seem them choked by anything, really. But I also, when I dig it up, might find a spot to plant it. A place where it can thrive and spread, but where it won’t kill the other plants. A spot for it to creep and climb and grow to its heart’s content.
I am not great at metaphors, but I think living through 2020 is turning out to be much like that vine. Reach out and make contact and connections, but stay in one place. Grow and thrive in spite of a global pandemic. Bloom and flourish despite governmental incompetence, finger-pointing, and blame-laying. And, most importantly, try your absolute hardest to choke the living shit out of the status quo, out of police-sanctioned murder of BIPOC, and the entire complicit system.
And now that I have come to terms with this plucky little adversary, I did look up its name and it is known simply as Morning Glory Vine.
Be like the vine, friends. Spread out. Take up space. Make big changes in the landscape around you. Don’t back down. And even if someone twists your roots out of the ground, keep holding on as hard as you can. Then pop up somewhere else stronger and more resilient, and start all over again.