When neighbor's complained about the appearance of the fuel tank on Witherspoon Street, the town responded by removing the fueling station's roof, adding a brick facade, and planting the raingarden that had been built to catch and filter runoff from the pavement.
But as a gardener who has seen many a raingarden succumb to weeds, I could not help but notice the first signs that a silent, weedy insurrection was in the works. Here is a small patch of mugwort, planning a rhizomatous takeover.
The weeds look harmless when there are just a few, but a gardener can extrapolate in the imagination from a little to a lot. I couldn't help myself, and intervened. How many gardens are at such an early stage when thirty minutes of weeding can nip invasion in the bud? Here are horse nettle, mugwort and nutsedge. Feel for the triangular stem on the nutsedge. "Sedges have edges."
Maybe someone with designated responsibility would have done the weeding anyway. Nice to think but hard to count on.
The pink is crown vetch, an aggressive plant originally introduced to the U.S. to control roadside erosion.
Subduing these three tough customers would take some major work, which makes it all the more amazing to be able to weed the other raingarden and feel like one has the upper hand.
All of this leads to a point, or two, made before, that regulations require the planting of raingardens in the name of reduced flooding and increased water quality, yet maintenance operations are set up to handle only the simplest of landscapes--turf and trees. Raingardens are a complex community of plants, not a monoculture. They don't respond well to "mow, blow, and go." The person who cares for them needs to be more physician than custodian. They can be planted by people who don't really know the plants, but they need to be cared for by people who do, in a culture that devalues informed maintenance.
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