SHARING SECRETS: Game of Thorns


Edited by Tina Ivany.

Are you waging battle against any invasive plants or animals in your garden? How did these intruders come into your garden and have you had any success in getting rid of them? (Thanks to Barbara Raub for suggesting this question.)


Deborah Young: Gophers gophers gophers! An endless battle with an entrenched foe. We’ve tried everything, smoke bombs, garlic-scented inserts, solar thumpers, traps and trappers. In the end, it’s a “win some, lose some” situation where we try to keep things under control but have no fantasies of a total win.

And skunks. Now, when I let the dog out at night I tell him “please don’t get skunked!” Seems to work as well as trying to trap them!

Diane Medina: Yes! Voles are eating the roots of my plants! Ugh. They make large holes and tunnels everywhere. I am 100% sure it is voles because my cat caught one, and I was able to identify it. The only thing that may be working is putting some poison pellets down into the hole and then putting a rock over the hole. Not sure if they are just taking a break, or if I killed some of them. I am certain they will be back.

Deborah Rackerby: I have been battling nutsedge for over thirty years. I finally defeated it in the front yard by having my lawn removed. I then spent over 40 hours digging each remaining nutsedge out by hand. I still have it in my back lawn. I want to keep my back lawn and have had very little success eliminating it using nutsedge sprays. It came into my yard in a one gallon daylily plant that I planted in front. It then spread to the back when I split the daylily a year or two later and planted it in the back. I had no idea it was a weed at the time. As a very naive new homeowner/ gardener, I thought it was just a daylily seedling. Ignorance is not so bliss sometimes.

Vivian Blackstone (Rancho Bernardo): I'm aware of the desperate need for food for critters. Yesterday was the first day I put my new Have-a-Heart trap out and immediately caught a medium sized rat that we took to the park and released. Then, as I was casually looking out the open window above my koi pond, I saw a large falcon sitting on the handrail of the bridge over the pond. He was surprisingly large, obviously hungry, and wanting a fish. Unable to catch one, he flew away when he saw me move. So many hungry critters.

I think the reason so many birds and other animals are gone is that people are still using Roundup. Such a shame, as that leaves a huge imbalance in nature.

Barbara Raub (Poway 92064) had two tales to tell:

Well these Jupiter’s Brooms may look gorgeous in a 1.5 acre estate (see photo above from Spring Garden Tour) and they are delightful…..unless you have a “normal sized lot” and the few that came in on another plant and seemed so benign, when they bloomed every spring, go superbloom on you. We just finished digging these things up out of planters, our old lawn area, and around other plants. They went berserk! And they have huge invasive, tubular roots! I’m sure we are not done with them. Their evil little leaves are showing up in some of the most inappropriate places. One was entwined in a potted sago palm and all over an aloe.

Early on in our Hort Society membership, we innocently returned home from the annual Volunteer Appreciation Party with a “cute plant.” My husband planted this “cute plant,” and when he noticed lots of “cute babies,” he planted them in a number of other garden areas. What is this cute plant? Mother of gillions? I think it is also called an alligator plant. It’s a kalanchoe of some type. I call it the Jurassic Park plant. It can make a fun house plant. I gave one to a friend a couple of years ago and now it sits on her kitchen floor and climbs the wall to the ceiling. I have also hung Christmas ornaments on a couple that were near our front door. In their wake there remains a constant “carpet” of babies sprouting up. They are everywhere. Help!


Brandon Sproat: Carpobrutus edulis (Hotten-tot Fig, Iceplant). (photo at right). It covered our canyon yard so completely that we found a 4-foot fence underneath it. Rather than try to spray a million gallons of pesticides, we pulled it by hand over the course of a couple years. Pull it, lay it, let it dry, haul it up the hill. It doesn't compost well, but the greenery takes it. Now we are restoring the hillside with natives.

Ground squirrels! - No success in trying to control them by yelling at them. Don't really want to trap them but they love to destroy the prettiest part of your garden. Hoping someone has some suggestions!

Eric Hoffmann: Bunnies. They came in through the fence and ate the lawn as well as other plants. I put chicken wire around the fence, which mostly eliminated them. After a few years, parts of the fence became less secure and a few bunnies sneak in. When I see them, I chase them out and find out where the holes are.

Gophers - Every year, they tunnel in from the slope behind the property under a slump stone base wall. I put out poison (anti-coagulant) in years past, but stopped that a while ago. Now I shovel used cat litter in the tunnels as far as it will go. Seems to keep them away until the next year.

Coyotes - I don’t know how they get in - over the fence we think. We see them in the yard with a night-cam. Not a huge problem; they seem to dig for grubs in the mulch. They probably get some fruit every once in awhile too.

Rats - Everywhere. I try to remove any low ground cover and tidy up work piles: tools, scrap wood, bags of dirt and fertilizer. But I collect too much junk and there are always some plants to hide in.

Raccoons - They used to work smart and in teams to go through our garbage bins. We finally figured out how to arrange the bins so they couldn’t get in. We don’t see them anymore.

Morning glory - The previous owner put it in back of the house. Eventually it spread across a high slope. I took out a lot of it, and I try to keep it from spreading by continually pulling it out. It keeps coming back.

Gabrielle Ivany (Rancho Bernardo 92128): I have two plants in my garden, which I planted years ago, loving the flowers and thinking they were drought resistant, which they are. They are the Mexican Evening Primrose, Oenothera berlandieri, and the Peruvian Lily, Alstroemeria aurea. It seems both of them like my garden and wander around to different places where I don't want them. I keep pulling them out, but it's a losing battle. The Mexican Evening Primrose has wandered into my neighbor’s garden, the Alstroemeria, when it starts to bloom, seems to be used by the bunnies to sleep in. But its underground roots have invaded a rose bush and a Lantana (so far). I am now trying to keep on top of it.


Susan Starr: The current thorn in my side is Hairy Canary Clover, Dorychium variegata. (Photo at left). A lovely trailing plant with pale pink blooms this time of year. It's been well-behaved in my yard for several years. But this year, it rained and now I am pulling it up everywhere. A good lesson in how climate can turn a friendly plant into an invasive, I guess.


  

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