22 Jul 2012

Burning Up: Curious Minds Want To Know!

DSC_0014   DSC_0019Literally and figuratively! Another sweltering day in the land of plants, and though I spent much of the day watering the kidlets [thank the stars for the well!] I managed to get myself a nasty burn! Even using a sunscreen with SPF 60! Those rare and refreshing drops of rain, leaden and heavy in the first five minutes, a delightful shower for the remaining ten, offered little relief! So now I am thinking ‘blue’ thoughts! Cooling, like pools of still water. Is it any wonder that blue remains the predominant colour in the gardens?

DSC_0465 Copy (2) of DSC_0007 I’ve been shamelessly plugging the new radio show with my clients at work and think I have found two or three new potential ‘Botanical Trespassing’ gardens to visit! Its the most eagerly anticipated segment for me – the opportunity to visit any garden, let alone one belonging to a nursery client, as well as a chance to sit and talk gardens with its creator/custodian.

Copy (2) of DSC_0258I’m putting the finishing touches to the list of questions I am going to ask my next guest – John Benham, who is the local weed inspector and tree conservancy officer for Centre Wellington. It has become somewhat of a controversy, this recent focus placed on ‘weeds.’ As my Grandmother used to say, ‘One person’s weed, is another’s treasure!’ Of course, I’m not talking the kind that you smoke, nor am I referring to the ones that pop up willy nilly and amuse most gardeners. I’m talking ones like Heracleum mantegazzianum, Impatiens glandulifera, Fallopia japonica, not to mention the dreaded Aegopodium podagraria! Say what? Put it this way: Giant Hogweed, Indian Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and our favourite public enemy number one: Goutweed!

Copy of DSC_0321 We have all read the dangers of Heracleum, the potential for third degree burns and potential blindness, so it seems somewhat logical that most gardeners would steer clear away from it, regardless of the magnificence of its bold foliage and unique flowers, but what happens when a gardener chooses to willfully grow it? It doesn’t just have to be Heracleum, what about some of the other so called invasive weeds [plants.] I for one would not part with my Persicaria [Fallopia Japonica] variegata ‘Compactum.’ Its supposed to be invasive – England’s number one public garden enemy - but for me it has remained in two well behaved clumps. No runners. I never allow it to flower, therefore the potential for seed is eliminated! Berberis is considered invasive, as is Euonymus, and yet they remain staple shrub elements in gardens far and wide. Blame is tossed like a flailing dinghy on a stormy sea. ‘They should stop growing it; It’s up to garden nurseries to keep them off the benches; its all a conspiracy, mass hysteria, the government controlling one more aspect of our lives!’ Trust me, I’ve heard them all. Makes for a most controversial show doesn’t it? I’m tired of playing it safe! I have my own opinion but in remaining as unbiased as possible in preparation for this interview, I am more than curious to know where you stand on the subject. Do you willfully grow plants that have been labeled as invasive? Would you stop growing it if a ‘Weed Inspection Officer’ told you to? I need feedback ASAP! I go into the studio next Wednesday. I promise to ensure anonymity for those that respond with permission to use their opinions on the air. Interactive radio……. look out Howard Stern! LOL!!! 


Barbarapc said...

Barry, when I was in my dinosaur plant period I grew Heracleum - I never had a problem with the sap. When I heard that it was a problem, promptly removed it, but miss it terribly - know the exact spot where it would look fabulous - dill on steroids. Nothing replaces it.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating but difficult topic Barry. Getting the facts straight will be hard.
I think the weed inspector works from a list. Who creates this list? Is it enforceable? Has it ever been enforced? How often and for what reasons?

A list of noxious weeds is published in the newspaper and if we are on a property of under 10 acres, we must comply. (I may be wrong on this, but this is what I recall.) That means we must spray. (Can't hand dig weeds on 9.99 acres!) It seems this is for the protection of the farmers. So, if I have Queen Anne's Lace (which is on the list) on my under 10 acre property, the inspector is allowed to eliminate it . (My property is just OVER 10 acres, so I assume he knows that!) So far I see QAL along every roadway and none has been sprayed. Is this because the sprays could drift into the farmer's field. Perhaps it is an issue of time and manpower as well. Perhaps it is related to the fact that pesticide use is being more and more restricted.

I'd like to know, however, what protection an individual would have from what the farmer and inspectors spray onto a smaller property and what drifts as well. The rules seem one sided.

Similarly, the farmer is allowed to shoot "undesired" animals. He is allowed to kill coyotes, foxes, etc., but not the smaller landowner. Another debate, but with the same answer in a way. The farmer is providing the food for Ontarians and must be assisted in that task.

Dame's Rocket is an invasive that takes over other plants. It poses no health risks. I don't believe it is on the inspector's list. People adore it and make no complaints at all. But "should" it be controlled? Who and how would that be done? And how do so safely?

These are very odd times. Pesticide use is more and more regulated, and I am in favor of this! And so why are small properties threatened by plant cops? It reminds me of laws about growing anything but green grass in front yards...when growing vegetables there should in fact be encouraged! Why pay more attention to whining neighbors than to what is the right thing to do? The farms also need to act responsibly and morally in their use of pesticides. Might I suggest it is a complaint driven system?

Your friend,