The owner of this garden has a nice retaining wall and a border in front of it, but one would not know it from this photo. It took me two days-four hours each day- to clean this area up. I removed two large wheelbarrow loads of mint plants and mint roots. The roots were in matted white tangled masses, and only time knows how many root bits I missed that I will have to shovel away another day. This narrow border was also invaded by Virginia Creeper, Poison Ivy, Pokeweed, and Johnson Grass-all formidable enemies.
All gone now. But this is a Southern garden tale, and in Nashville the weeds timeshare. I will go to clean out this area this week, and I will not be greeted by clean, bare ground ready for planting. The owner has a bird feeder in the middle of the border and around it will be a forest of sunflower seeds tossed on the ground by cardinals and titmice. There will also be the twin devils of our winter weeds-chickweed and henbit. Allow either of these to bloom, and the problem will come back every fall.
This is discouraging to Southern gardeners who want weed invaders to take the winter off, as they do in colder climates.
How we will deal with the litter from the bird feeder will be a problem. But the mint will be banished. At first I had suggested to the owner that we leave a small patch of it, for it was not unattractive. But the owner wants it gone, and if she plants it again, she says it will be in a container.
Meanwhile I have three flats of pansies the owner brought home to plant , as well as two roses I think will work well . They are “Peach Drift” and “Caldwell Pink”, and both are hardy and disease free. I am also going to try to convince the owner to let me plant Gold Sword yuccas, which will give some winter structure. Shrubs and small ever greens are essential as long as they are in scale. As the English gardener Nan Fairbrother once wrote in her book”Men and Gardens”, “the garden that depends on flowers is ugly six months of the year”.