Sunday, 24 May 2009


I actually love having a garden but, as for gardening, I would very much like it to garden itself. Writing is a great way of clarifying one's thoughts and, writing this one down, it occurs to me what a slothful attitude this is. I realise that now and again I just have to push the lawnmower around, much as I have to push the hoover. I also realise that if I get on with it, I quite enjoy it.
It's a good job. We are faced with, and will have to do something about, the convolvulus. To continue with my analogy, convolvulus -or bindweed- is the equivalent to a nasty mess in the fridge that you just can't leave, only ten times worse. It is persistent, invasive, destructive and virtually impossible to get rid of. It's roots spread out, popping up shoots. Each shoot grabs an unsuspecting plant by the ankle and goes on to grow up its stem in a spiral. Before you know it, where you once had, say, a rosebush, you've just a mass of pale green leaves. If you let it, it will go on to produce creamy-white trumpet-like flowers.
How do you get rid of it? If you keep digging it up, it keeps coming back. There are all sorts of clever things one can try doing - sticking canes in close to the roots to trick the plant into growing up the cane, for example. In the end, though, you have to face the uncomfortable truth: you're going to be digging this up again and again for a very long time.
One thing about it I find intriguing is its ability to wind itself around things. I suppose being able to tell where sunlight is coming from is a form of sight, but it's uncanny what acrobatics plantlife can get up to without looking. I'm sure we could built a virtually blind robot specifically designed to wind itself around lamp-posts. But if we did, and you tore it to pieces, you'd find it was full of discreet components: not one big idea, but an accumulation of good ideas cobbled together. Tear convolvulus apart and you find it's just made of green stuff. (I never was good at biology). That's millions of years of evolution for you.
If there are archaeologists in the future, they will be able to find what little remains of this house by the thick tangle of convolvulus growing where it used to stand.


Totalfeckineejit said...

It is a funny old world Dominic,I too love gardens yet hate gardening,but conversely am trying to propagate convolvulus, not kill it.The problem is we have gable ends and rooftops of a hundred houses where once was meadow, horses, foxes, hill view and babbling brook.So in order to cocoon ourselves despite fence and trellis we are in desperate need of something to plug the sightline gaps-and quickly.Garden centre plants are both too slow and too expensive.Turbo-quick growing bind weed is our only hope and we crave the bloom and block of it's triumphant white trumpets.

Sandra Leigh said...

Around here, (Vancouver Island) bindweed is called morning glory, and speaking of it always requires the caveat, "It's not like the morning glories you plant on purpose. This stuff is evil." I once ripped out a three foot thickness of morning glory that had overgrown the fence of a house I had just rented. It turned out that the morning glory was the only thing holding the fence up.

Poet in Residence said...

I've just spent 3 days in the garden and I'm totally knackered! But I look on it as 'alternative training' or as 'they' euphemistically call it: 'active rest'.
I'll be glad to get back to doing some 10 mile mountain runs.
Seriously though, I think gardening is good exercise if you do it the old fashioned way, that is without modern mechanical petro-chemical-electro-assistance.
My grandad had 5 allotments on the go - all at the same time. We never wanted for a cabbage!

Dominic Rivron said...

TFE: And I thought we were hard done by when they pulled down the barns next door and built six houses - that's the origin of the photo on this post, taken from our garden.

As for convolvulus, speaking from bitter experience, never turn your back on the stuff. If you have a lawn beween your convolvulus cocoon and your house, it'll set off under it if it gets bored, popping up all over. It may even start tapping on your windows...

SL: I've had that happen too. trouble is, if you tear the stuff up, it's "hydra rooted" (as opposed to headded): any little bits left behind turn into new plants.

PiR: It is good exercise, isn't it? Five allotments! I struggled to beat the rosebay willowherb and couchgrass on half of one once. How do these guys do it?

Totalfeckineejit said...

I think you are right Dominic it was a moment of madness and we are having second,more patient thoughts.I sympathise about your bulldozed barns, is the metal fence your boundary? The estate built at the back of us is about 20ft lower and they dug so close to our back fence without shoring it up that a section of garden measuring 30ft wide by 10 ft deep including fence, gravel path, flower bed, shrubs ,pots and trees- fell in!! Imagine my delight coming home from work to that one! Worse even than that, they just carried on regardless as if nothing had happened! Oh the 12 months of fun we had! I'm going to lie down now as the BP is rising in tandem with the number of exclamation marks!!!!

Dominic Rivron said...

TFE: Nightmare. Presumably they put it right in the end? We had the opposite problem. Having been assured that the land next door -which was about 5 feet higher than our garden- was going to be lowered, the builders came in with bulldozers and made it even higher. I could go on. As you put it, 12 months of fun...

Mad Aunt Bernard said...

Hello Dominic, break off from your gardening and pop over to my blog for a rest and to pick up the award I've, well, awardeded you!

Poetikat said...

I didn't know that Convolvulus was the Latin name for Bindweed.
We have our share of that rampant, writhing, anaconda of the plant-world. I've dug and dug and dug, but to no bloody avail. At one point it actually grew up to the top of a fence and latched on to a 100 year old tree from the cemetery and tried to drag it down to the Underworld.
My husband is of the exact same sentiment as you when it comes to gardening. I really enjoy it when I get stuck in, it's just the getting motivated to GET stuck in that's the prob.

I have a lovely little award for you on "Keepsakes".


Lyn said...

Convolvulus is certainly of this world..dependant and thankfully for it, enabled to survive.
I live in a big city that is poured over with cement, and sometimes as I'm strolling along, I stop, and looking down, see sprigs of green pushing through the miniscule cracks, nothing to entwine with, surviving anyway. That's my garden. Not much to do but stare and be glad!!

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Dominic,

What a delightful romp through your thoughts. Just what the synapses wanted.

Your writings never bring to mind a man who indulges overly in sloth or indolence, however, so your self-image is noted wit wry amusement.

I share the thoughts regarding convolvulus. Lovely name, fearsome beast in the garden. I once, in my less astute days, rented a roto-tiller to really work the clay in some land I had reclaimed from turf, neglect... and from morning glory.

Well, gasps of horror, after a morning losing all sensitivity in my upper body from the vibrations, and then a week of further significant effort to work and transmute the clay to soil, that, suddenly, a legion of green warriors had sprung up, brandishing their white bugles.

I had not intentionally sown dragon's teeth, but the rototiller had torn up the roots that remained... and you know the result.

Sad. Sad. Sad.

After a week we gave up and watched the inexorable progress of the Green Man's legions across the lawn. And house.

We eventually had to flee.

First Europe, now Hong Kong.

You do the math...


Dominic Rivron said...

MAB: I was always told to drop a note to Aunties who gave me things, something to the effect of:
Dear MAB, I hope you are well. Thank you very much for the award which you have given me. I have put it on my sidebar with all the others. It looks really good. Your loving nephew, etc etc
Thank you!

Poetikat: Thank you for the Award! Ewe is very appropriate - as I seem to remember you're interested in collecting English vernacular expressions/turns of phrase (I think it was you) I'll say there are ewes to cobble dogs with round here in case that expression has not permeated beyond the UK.

Lyn: I'm reminded of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (PK Dick) where people keep and treasure even electric animals to remind them of what the world used to be like. Last big city I lived in was London - which, luckily, is incredibly green (ie, full of foliage) for a city.

Sepiru Chris: Moi? Not slothful or indolent? I blog, for heaven's sake! :)
I hope you didn't leave you bedroom windows open. If you did you ran the risk of waking up with your arms pinned to your sides by the onward marching spiral tendrils...

Sorlil said...

"I would very much like it to garden itself" - lol, my thoughts exactly!

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Dominic,

Your posting inspired me.

I have linked to you, and written more on this topic in a posting called Fight for the light... the fearsome foe, convolvulus.


Dominic Rivron said...

Sorlil: Of course, it will, but not necessarily the way you want it to.

SC: Pleased to be of inspiration. Your post brought me out in a cold sweat.