Monday, May 27, 2013

Restoring Balance in a Raingarden

It seemed a straightforward mission, to put some extra native wildflowers from my backyard in the raingarden at the Senior Center on Harrison Street. The raingarden looked well enough in order, despite minimal attention last year. Rains and cool weather were conveniently imminent, improving the prospects for the transplants' survival. Just a matter of digging eight holes and dropping the new plants in. Half hour, tops.

A closer look, though, revealed a scene more like an unruly classroom where schoolyard bullies were having their way with the meek and the mild. A tree of heaven was pushing up through the Virginia sweetspire shrubs, and that smooth oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides), celebrated for all the color it added last year, was now sprouting everywhere, poised to dwarf and diminish the hapless competition. Sorrel, ground ivy and mock strawberry were creeping in from the lawn, needing to be pulled out in handfuls before they develop deeper roots. The Jerusalem artichokes I had planted (what was I thinking?) was asserting its underground imperialistic tendencies, making me and all nearby plants pay for the bright yellow blooms it contributed last year. What's a plant lover to do but start ripping out plants in an effort to restore balance? Two hours later, the overly aggressive species lay in a heap, tall plants were shifted to the back, and some semblance of balance was restored.

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