>> Sunday, July 27, 2008
Isn’t this a beauty? This is what is known as a devil with an angels face. Why am I so disparaging of such a beautiful plant that brings forth visions of bright, happy, sunny times? Because its seed husks will kill any plant that tries to grow around it. It’s one of the ninja-like assassins of the plant world.
I had heard rumors about how nothing will grow under my bird feeders that are filled daily with black-oil sunflower seeds but I ignored these rumors because I wanted to keep birds coming into my yard. Hanna, at This Garden is Illegal, even presented a very compelling argument as to how these bully’s-in-disguise will try to take over. Well, after four years of feeding every bird that would land here, mainly finches and doves, I now have absolute proof.
Here is one of the feeders I have placed in three locations around my yard. This one is under an apple tree.
And here is what the ground underneath looks like after four years. I don’t bother removing any of the debris except for what the lawn mower sucks up as it passes and as you can see, nothing is growing.
Last Fall, when I still scoffed at the idea of a secret society of plant kingdom hit squads, I placed three very young Weigela My Monet under the dogwood tree in my front yard (directly under one of the now infamous plant-killing sunflower-seed-filled birdfeeders). They didn’t make it. My stubbornness caused the death of three defenseless shrubs and, trust me when I say, I am remorseful. Am I a believer now? You betcha. My only hope now is that these ne’er do wells never get organized.
I decided to research this fascinating world of cutthroat techniques to survive in the plant world and I found this list of unsociable plants:
Granted, some of these plants are a bit exotic to most gardeners yards which is why it seems so odd that sunflower would be counted among this dastardly bunch.
I also learned that some people are considering allelopathy, (the inhibition of growth of a plant due to biomolecules released by another), as a nonchemical alternative to weed control. What they found was that some plant-made chemicals are a more potent photosynthetic inhibitor than the majority of synthetic herbicides. They are even talking about using native species and decorative ornamentals to be placed in strategic locations to eliminate the backbreaking job of weeding without resorting to chemicals. Now, this I could go for.
In the meantime, I will not stop feeding birds what they love most because I enjoy hearing the birds singing and squawking just outside my window. I probably won’t stop growing sunflowers because, well, you know, they are beautiful. I just need to get my timing down so I can enjoy them as long as possible before cutting off their heads. Gardening can be so cruel.