So here is the word from our former neighbor in Florida that we left to cope with the infamous passionflower I talked about in yesterday's blog.....
Received your email today, It brought back pleasant hours of toil. by
the way those little devils are still popping up in both yards.But
times have passed and even with the vines we wish you were back on
Treasure Island. we miss you and your lawn man, how he must miss the
green evergrowing grass. If because of the wild fires and smoke are
bad feel free to visit us in the mountains. Love from charley and
The lawn man is my husband Bob who drove our lawn mower in Florida until it looked like the car from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" by the end of the movie, as he swore that we would move somewhere without a lawn which we did.....New Mexico. Actually there are those here who insist on mowing the desert which destroys the delicate balance of our soil and makes the land go to noxious weeds like ragweed instead of our native plants. And grass by the way is not really native to where we lived in south Florida either. We had to put down sod to get our Certificate of Occupancy when we built our stilt house and then promptly proceeded to let it die as we were on Charlotte Harbor and I didn't want fertilizers to run off and create algae and also to waste the amount of water it would take to keep it green. If only I had known to go to the native plant nursery and plan and plant a native yard like the people we interviewed in our documentary from the Creative-Native Project in south Florida, filmed long after we had moved to New Mexico. And by the way our Florida neighbor is still fighting those passionflowers over EIGHT years later. The lesson to be drawn...beware of invasive plants as you may never get rid of them and find out what is native where you live and cherish it.
So here is another invasive story from the first home Bob and I purchased, a 51 acre farm in western Pennsylvania which had gone a little to seed already by the time Bob and I bought it so to speak. Marie Collins, the wonderful woman we bought it from had stopped running their dairy after her husband Red died and let the neighbor run his cows on it and plant his corn with the understanding he would keep it mowed and maintain the fences. Alas her idea of maintenance and his differed which would not have been such an issue were it not for a very invasive plant called multiflora rose. I am told this nefarious shrub came to Pennsylvania by being promoted as natural fencing and also for highway median beautification. I will put links about the history and botanical science of this plant at the bottom of this blog. Well if you put grazing animals on a field they will keep it eaten down but only sheep and goats will eat the shoots of multiflora rose. If you mow regularly it will just put out little shoots but never grow into the large creeping thorny brushy plant it has the potential to be. With 51 acres and both of us working we did not have the time or the money to keep all the land mowed, nor did we have any grazing animals. I approached our neighbor about putting his sheep on our land in exchange for his mowing it but when he saw how big the multiflora had already gotten he was not interested. Farmers claim that the huge thorns have punctured many an expensive tractor tire and so our land was gradually taken over and Bob would mow paths through the multiflora. The upside to multiflora is that it is such a barricade to predators that we had massive numbers of birds nesting under it and when I was on the phone, friends would remark on all the birdsong in the background. It also created a heavenly aroma of roses wafting everywhere for three weeks in the summer. But truly it will take over everything else leaving barren land underneath if you pull them out with a chain and tractor or bulldoze them which is what the couple who bought our farm did and then promptly put grazing animals in and mowed regularly. We just couldn't muster the fight. If it hadn't been there the farm would have gradually gone back to native woods which is not a bad alternative for those who are not farmers. As my father said "In order to have a farm one must either be rich enough to take care of it or be a farmer."