In spite of this week’s blizzard, spring is almost here, and soon we’ll be seeing bright yellow flowers filling the lawn or growing in a crack in the sidewalk. Dandelions—you either love them or you hate them, but it’s hard to ignore them.
After the storm earlier this week, snow blankets the fields, hiding most signs that anything ever grew there. But interspersed with the even white blanket and occasional dried grass leaves are spikes, sticking up like posts in the empty landscape. We’re finally noticing the dead and dried flower/seed stalks of Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).
Every so often I come across an article that explains something so much better than I ever could. This is one of those times.
Tsu Dho Nimh writes a blog called Lazy Gardening SMACKDOWN. Back in 2013, he tackled the viral advice about making your own herbicide out of vinegar, detergent, and some other ingredients. I’ve been meaning to cover this topic, because this homemade “herbicide” doesn’t work. But then I saw Nimh’s article, and realized that he did a much more thorough job of explaining it all.
The flowers could be considered somewhat pretty—a white or lavender tuft reminding me of cornflowers (aka bachelor’s buttons). The somewhat pretty flowers are probably the only positive aspect of these plants. A common noxious weed, knapweed is the bane of my garden.
The problem is that we live immediately adjacent to an open space, a few supposedly wild acres left by the developer (probably because it’s too steep to build on). There’s Gambel’s oak, six Ponderosa pines, a smattering of yucca, assorted wildflowers, and some rather nasty weeds.
One of my perverse pleasures is perusing Pintrest to find bad garden advice. There’s certainly no lack of misinformation on the web, and Pintrest seems to collect it all. Most advice is simply a waste of time and money—sprinkling Epsom salts on your plants, spraying weeds with vinegar, pouring beer on your lawn. They don’t help, but they won’t kill your plants either. However, yesterday I came across a recommendation that will seriously damage your garden. I was so horrified that I immediately sat down to write this post.
- Are hardy in Colorado, even in the mountains
- Grow a compact one to two feet tall
- Are covered with eye-catching white daisies in mid-summer
- Grow in almost any soil
- Bloom in full sun or partial shade
Worth growing for its delicious fragrance alone, dame’s rocket also offers showy, long-lasting flowers and is as trouble-free an herb as you could ask for. Its multitude of common names attests to centuries of cultivation in gardens and to the high regard in which it has been held. (Mother Earth Living)
How can you resist such a glowing recommendation? It’s true that dame’s rocket is all these things, but it is also an invasive outlaw, wanted dead, not alive. Like any most-wanted suspect, Hesperis matronalis hides under a plethora of aliases: damask violet, dame’s-violet, dames-wort, dame’s gilliflower, night-scented gilliflower, queen’s gilliflower, rogue’s gilliflower, summer lilac, sweet rocket, mother-of-the-evening, vesper flower and winter gilliflower, to name a few. But not matter what you call it, it’s against the law to grow this plant in Colorado.*