Garden Gate


Image As you know, I also like to hang out in gardens.  Here is a gate in the Chicago Botanic Garden, with a Clematis vine I pulled in from around the corner.  I love the round ball on top of a squared off column, concrete and brick, softened by plants.  I also love the collaboration between humans and nature.  We are at our best, it seems to me, when we are creating beauty. On other fronts, it is garlic mustard time.  When I go for walks looking for rare plants to draw this time of year, I try to bring a bag with me to pull the garlic mustard.  Left to it’s own nefarious devices, it will completely conquer an area, knocking back all native flora and creating a monoculture.  I’m told that it secretes a chemical into the soil that suppresses native plants.  I know that buckthorn does that as well.  Yesterday I was exploring a site I’m coming to really appreciate.  It is a high quality woodland with a rich history and an equally rich understory.  So, as I walked along with my eyes peeled for twinleaf, I noticed some clumps of garlic mustard and thought, “oh, darn, I wish I remembered to bring a bag!”.  If you pull it and let it fall, it will go ahead and set seeds.  You  have to bag it and remove it from the area for your efforts to be effective.  We volunteers have learned to use those heavy black garbage bags, as the plants just keep right on growing in lighter bags.  Then, a few steps on, there was a bag!  Wow!  It must have been being carried by the steward that very day, and been dropped.  It was still all folded up, pristine.  Wish I could do that with money…  Anyway, I was able to pull quite a bit of garlic mustard and nearly filled the bag. I did find twinleaf, and several other species I don’t usually come across.  There was a very sweet little “garden” springing up from a patch of moss at the foot of a tree.  A tiny fern, a diminutive trillium, a trout lily, and what I’m hoping will turn out to be Uvularia.  Fun!  I’m going to drag my family there today.  It’s such a neat site I want to share it.

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12 thoughts on “Garden Gate

  1. Jim in IA says:

    Yesterday we went for a hike and found several places with little white
    Dutchman’s Breeches. Did you know their seeds are spread by ants?

    Today, we noticed the garlic mustard is getting bigger. Soon, it will be time to go after it in the trees behind us. We have put a dent into the population over the past few years. It sure is persistent.

    • melissabluefineart says:

      Hi Jim,
      No, I didn’t know that. How did you find that out? I love to learn the ways that beings are connected, like how several species of blue butterflies rely on ants for their survival.
      You’re right, garlic mustard sure is persistent. The area I was working in this weekend has been getting a lot of focused help from volunteers, yet I still find the stuff every time I pass through. Luckily it is satisfying to pull, isn’t it?

  2. Steve Gingold says:

    Uvularia. First I’ve heard of them although I am familiar with Bellworts which I guess are related. Now a uvula I am familiar with. 🙂
    I like the way you arranged the Clematis for your composition. I am not quite as enthusiastic about humans in nature…as far as photography goes…but I do agree we are all better off the more nature exists in our lives.
    That is great that you volunteer to fight of the invasives. While I don’t ever pull up wildflowers, controlling invasives by hand makes a lot of sense. At least you are not fighting Kudzu.

  3. melissabluefineart says:

    I think Bellwort is the common name…it didn’t come to me until later. I hope they bloom soon. I would never pull a wildflower either. The best bouquets are as arranged by nature 🙂
    Yes, I understand Kudzu is pretty awful…

  4. Barbara Rodgers says:

    I recently learned about an invasive species here in Connecticut called mile-a-minute weed – I will be looking out for it so I can pull it up, too. Gardens are wonderful collaborations between humans and nature, as long as we stick to arranging plantings of native or, at least, non-invasive species.

    Your painting is beautiful – the orb made me think of the moon at first.

    • melissabluefineart says:

      Thank you Barbara, it is good to hear from you.

      I so agree that gardeners would do best by learning and making use of plants native from their region, all propagated in a nursery and not scooped up from a natural area. I look around my garden and realize there are a few potential thugs in there that I’d better remove before they leap the gate and head for the wilderness. I’ve been hearing about the mile-a-minute vine also. Is that the one with thorns hiding under the leaves? ouch.

    • melissabluefineart says:

      Thank you Steve 🙂

      Wouldn’t it be nice if our insects could quickly evolve to devour all of these invading plants that are wreaking havoc? After a long day pulling garlic mustard I was driving home and saw fields of the stuff, each plant ready to release seeds. It feels hopeless, really, and yet one must try.

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