It’s come down to battling the weed of the week

June 25, 2013

By Jane Garrison

June must be weed month. They are so big and lush, I feel like I’m living in the tropics. Maybe we need to institute “Weed of the Week.”

This week, my pick would be bindweed, that viney plant that twines and twists its way over shrubs and through hedges. Its flowers are pretty, like big white ice cream cones. You’ve seen it growing everywhere. Mine isn’t blooming yet, but it’s really prolific.

Contributed The bindwind is considered an invasive weed because it crowds out other native plants.

The bindwind is considered an invasive weed because it crowds out other native plants.

Some people call it morning glory, but that name is too nice for this bad relative of that particular plant. The reason bindweed is bad is because it smothers everything in its path, and you can’t get rid of it. It’s growing in my native garden.

I don’t use weed killers in my yard, but if I did, there would be no way I could apply it in such close proximity to other plants. I tried dipping the newly cut ends in brush killer, but it only distorted the new growth for a brief time.

Brush killer is an acceptable poison to use if applied correctly, and works well on freshly cut maple and blackberry. It’s a tolerable solution when carefully applied to a specific weed with a small brush, impacting only the plant you want to remove — not the topsoil, groundwater or beneficial insects. But, it doesn’t seem to work on bindweed.

When I was weeding in May, I didn’t see much bindweed. I thought maybe it was on the wane in my yard. I was wrong. By June, it had climbed the salal, swordfern, huckleberries and rhododendrons. If it didn’t find those to climb, it climbed up itself!

People say that if you pull it and it breaks, it will only come back with a vengeance, bigger and stronger than ever. Since I can’t win, my theory is to just beat it up real good for two reasons: First of all, I rationalize that if it doesn’t have a leafy top growth, it can’t feed its roots, so maybe, just maybe, it will be gone someday. Second, it just makes me feel better.

Normally, my biggest weedy offender is blackberry, but this June, bindweed beat it out.

As always, we must look at the positive side. Our green, lush gardens and yards are so healthy and vigorous they make us feel like we are in the tropics. For myself, I don’t have to pay for an expensive trip to Hawaii. I’ll just stay here and bask in it, bindweed and all.


Jane Garrison is a local master gardener and landscape architect who gardens in glacial till on the plateau.


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