Sunday, December 6, 2015

Killing Silver Lamium

A just above freezing, full sunny morning lit up the grasses and dried remnants of the Tall Flower Meadow. It promised something would be accomplished today. I have a list.

An old dead apple tree finally fell down. It needs to be dismantled. It wasn't on the top of the list though.

The top of the list was plumbing repairs at the well head. A galvanized metal T that branched out to a collection of hose bibs that distribute water out to the garden had cracked. It had to be replaced.

My big hope was that the third attempt at repair would be the charm. That was not to be. In the first attempt, I had a bad thread on a hose bib. It wouldn't seat properly and go in. The next two attempts at putting the collection of hose bibs back together resulted in drips. When I tried to tighten the drip away, something else broke. I would need another part from the store. I would not be driving to the store now. It could wait until I went to town tomorrow, again.

I wanted water at the house next door to make some Roundup. An above freezing, full sunny day was perfect for the killing I had in mind.

I had to make do by filling my sprayer while draining the system and then a trip next door for a second batch. I was going to kill me some Silver Lamium, Lamium galeobdolon, today. That was my other top of the list.

This ground cover has proven to be horribly invasive in the ridge top garden. If I had not started killing it off four years ago, the entire mountain top would be covered in a densely rooted, impenetrable mat. Bulbarella could not dig through it easily and kept expanding the garden ahead of the onslaught. I am much to busy for her garden to be getting bigger.

The good news is the lamium is pretty much an evergreen. Once all her desired plants went to sleep for the winter and before the bulbs woke up, I could spray the lamium without too much worry of collateral damage.

The results have been most gratifying. When Bulbarella returns in the spring she sees lamium free bare ground that needs planting. Garden expansion has slowed to a trickle. Infill is now keeping her quite busy. There has also been an explosion in the number of minor bulbs like crocus, chionodoxa, puschkinia and scilla that bloom in the spring. Pushing through the dense mat of lamium roots and rising above the foliage for the required sunlight was more than these small bulbs could handle. Less lamium equals more spring bulbs.

Beebalm has also returned to the ridge top garden in abundance after withering away to almost nothing. Getting rid of the lamium will be beneficial for all kinds of wild flowers.

I missed this patch. I'll need to plan another mission for a warmish sunny day.

Killing silver lamium was the only real chore on my list that I accomplished today. I did stroll the ridge top garden twice and picked up lots of sticks as I went. I chatted with a gun toting hunter across the county line on the first trip. I was under the impression that was verboten on Sundays.

I took the resident beasts for a walk on the second visit. We need to do that more often, but it is close to dark by the time I get home these days.

I told myself I would make more of an effort to help out in the ridge top garden next year. That is easier said than done. I have my own garden expansion plans. (hmfp ... mhpf)

Between the two of us we are at three acres and counting of wild cultivated gardens. I need some semblance of tidy to make my maintenance gardener self happy. It is just hard to get to it all with one day a week and evenings in the growing season.

Persistence does pay off. I have nearly eliminated my nemesis, the Clematis virginiana, in an acre and a half of meadow. That will leave more time for the ridge top garden. Give me a couple more years and the lamium will only remain in a couple locations where we let it live.


Dana Foerster said...

Glad your BeeBalm is making a comeback. It's probably my favorite wildflower especially for hummingbirds. Do you have any other suggestions for hummingbird nectar summer wildflowers I should plant?

Christopher C. NC said...

Hummingbirds adore the native Impatiens or Jewelweed. It can be rather aggressive though. Coral Honeysuckle is another good one.

Lisa Greenbow said...

I love jewelweed but haven't been able to get it going here. Three I can't hardly keep up with my 1/4acre. ha...

Lola said...

Bummer on the water situation. Glad you did manage to get some spraying done.

Hugh Martin said...

The NC Legislature passed a law last year to allow hunting on Sundays. It used to be the only day I felt safe to hike my family's land, but no more.

Christopher C. NC said...

Lisa the Jewelweed seems to favor a moist woodland habitat. Here it is a pest because it gets four to five feet tall and steals the sunlight from everything else.

Lola my mom's house has been having all kinds of issues this year. It is showing its age, about 25 or so and all the cheap quality materials used to build it.

That sucks Hugh. Sunday was my only day of peace and quiet during the hunting season.

C. C. said...

Oh, dear. I planted lamium 'Archangel' on a dry, shady hillside flanking a long set of stone steps 5-6 years ago. It has spread, but not too badly yet, and is beginning to compete with a big patch of English ivy nearby which needs to be subdued. (The ivy is a thousand times easier to pull.) I love that Archangel is evergreen, and the beautiful yellow umbrella-like flowers in early spring are covered with fat bees. But it may be time to get rid of it. After it flowers next spring.

Christopher C. NC said...

CC the lamium definitely sets viable seed when it blooms. Up here the bloom gets frozen two out of three years. It was gorgeous when the mountain was an ocean of the yellow lamium in bloom. Still, there is a big seed bank in the soil. I spray it, kill it and more germinates to replace it. I will have to keep at it for a while to come.

You may be able to contain it on your slope. It spreads by runner much more than seed. Think of containing with a fire break of sorts, maintained chemically or mechanically. Give it its space and no more.

C. C. said...

Does it spread by underground runners? I've noticed that new growth tends to stretch out and and settle into the ground wherever it lands, like the hated vinca major. If it spreads underground as well, I'll have to kill it. Thanks.

Christopher C. NC said...

CC, as far as I can tell it only spreads by above ground runners. When I have dug it out, the root system is a dense fibrous mat with no signs of underground rhizomes.

C. C. said...

Excellent, thanks.