COLUMNISTS

Tackling a tangle of ferns

Susan Manzke
Where oh where are those hostas under the canopy of ferns?

I confess I’m not much of a gardener.

My father grew veggies all his life. When I was a kid, my sister and I were drafted into garden work. I loved planting time when everything was fresh and new. I hated the times when weeds got away from us and overtook the garden.

Ragweed would invade and seem to grow a foot overnight. Taking out those weeds wasn’t a big problem, except when black and yellow garden spiders wove their webs between the tomatoes and weeds. The solution for those spiders was to bring my air rifle to the garden and pop them off their webs.

Even though Dad grew bushel baskets full of veggies, I did not inherit his love or skill at gardening. It was just work that had to be done.

But I don’t want to talk about growing vegetables. Flowers and greenery are on my mind today.

I prefer perennial flowers to annuals, though often petunias are grown in a window box here as they are this year.

Weeds continue to be a bane to my garden plans. One, in particular, looks like small morning glory but is a bindweed. It has invaded my perennial patch and no matter how much I pull it out there’s always more.

Today I decided to tackle a tangle of ferns.

Many years ago, a few ferns were brought from our woods to decorate around this house—at the same time, I took some to our house on Gardner Road but I managed to kill those.

Some of the removed weeds.

The ferns did not mind being relocated here. Every spring they unfurled from the ground to show off their greenery early in the growing year. (Possibly called cinnamon ferns)

In some areas, they kept multiplying until they were more of a pest than a decoration. Sunny’s dog pen is a place where this overabundance of ferns has taken place.

While I was busy mowing and doing other yard chores, these ferns shot up, covering hostas I had forgotten were there, too. Well, today they met their match. I tugged on my gardening gloves and set to work removing the ferns that had overstayed their welcome.

Since there were so many, I couldn’t clip them individually. Instead, I pulled and tugged. Along with the ferns, some invasive trumpet vines had encroached on the same space. Those were more difficult to remove. I needed clippers for them—some had even climbed up behind the house siding! Yikes!

There were other weeds among the ferns and vines, but I didn’t stop to ask their names. I just added them to the pile of green I was accumulating.

When finished, I looked back and saw a delightful display of hostas that had been hidden under the leaning ferns.

Susan is all smiles after her hard work helped to uncover her hosta plants hidden under the weeds and zealous ferns.

I remember a saying I learned in my agriculture classes in high school. A weed is a plant that is in a place it doesn’t belong. So a corn stalk in a soybean field is a weed and all those ferns and vines were/are weeds.

My cart is filled with debris but I stopped before taking everything down to the brush pile. After all, I had this column to write. But more than that, I was pooped.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I’ll take the clippers out again and rid my flower bed of maple tree saplings. Those things pop up like weeds every year, too.

Today some obnoxious plants were ousted, but I’m not kidding myself. They will return and I’ll battle with them again, and again, and again. It’s one of life’s never-ending wars.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.