Hello and goodbye

Credit: Carol Pope


It’s a hard thing to say goodbye to a garden, yet we did just that recently following a decision to move from our house of 14 years to a new property where we are building.

After years of growing vegetables on a north-facing slope surrounded by forest, we are now contemplating a slope to the south and much more arid setting.

First, though, we need to deal with the plight of our new and decidedly “naked” house. While our previous house had attained a cottage-like feel, entwined with clematis, honeysuckle and grounded by swathes of deer-resistant geraniums, poppies and feverfew in foundation beds, our new home juts upward like a skyscraper with several feet of foundation rudely exposed due to angle of the slope on which it sits surrounded by sand and grit.

This fall, I will be scaling the slope to plant climbing vines and drag in soil for foundation beds. Oh, but for some sweet-smelling cascades of Clematis armandii in the spring!

carol pope's blog, gardenwise blogs, curling broom podsEnemy Invasion
There haven’t been a lot of those balmy Autumn days this year where you can feel the heat swirling around you, but during one of the recent few I realized that I was being aggravated by a steady popping sound coming in the window over my desk.

Perplexed, I made my way outside and ventured toward the sound. What was it? Birds making a racket snapping up some edible-seed winfall? Cones snapping down from the trees?

Well, no.

To my horror, it was the rattle of the pods of the invasive scotch broom crowded on a neighbouring property, snapping open to spit out their seeds. The late-summer heat shrivels the pods until they split open and catapult their genetic load up to four metres from the parent.

Consider that just one bush can muster up 2,000 to 3,500 pods, each engorged with seed, then imagine a half-acre brimming with broom – and now you know why there was a commotion thunderous enough to drag me away from my desk. The seed of this botanic bully is encrusted in a coat rigid enough to endure up to 80 years if needed before it has a chance to sprout and usurp new territory.

pulled broom, carol pope's blog, gardenwise blogs
Often lined alongside our roadways (thanks to a former planting strategy of the department of highways), the broom torpedoes seed onto the pavement where it is tough enough to tolerate being lodged into passing tires – until released in some new location where it can dig in roots.

Already, I was feeling like we had enemy troops poised on the edge of our property, gearing up for takeover. Now, amidst the steady din of exploding black pods, I am readying myself to fight back. Any scotch broom sprouting up on our property will join the heap of its relatives chopped, sawed and ripped out upon our arrival here.

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