Framing the Dialogue

Landscaping Through Life

St. John's Wort on the left - Crown Vetch on the right

A few years ago my in-laws built a new cabin on Deep Creek Lake.  This would be the third cabin dating back to when the lake was first formed to generate hydro-power.  There is a small slope between their lower driveway and the lawn that leads to the lakefront.  It never really had any remarkable landscaping and was mostly weeds.  After construction I took the initiative to research, buy, and plant this area.  They have somewhat sandy soil that doesn’t get much sun.

I had a nice, low-growing, perennial at my house that thrives in this environment so I knew that St. John’s Wort (Hypericum calycinum) would do well.  If you have ever done any landscaping it can be rather expensive so I bought smaller plants and spread them on about half of the slope knowing that in about two years they would spread well and cover that part of the slope.  I had plans to work on the rest of the slope the following year.

My father-in-law is a man well known for his patience, more specifically his Impatience.  Not satisfied with the slow process of my landscaping he went to the local feed store and bought some Crown Vetch (Securigera varia) seeds and sowed them next to my plants.  The seeds are very expensive because it,

“is a tough, aggressive spreading plant that will crowd out its neighbors in a show garden…it will grow indefinitely with little maintenance. Its deep, tenacious roots and thick, fern-like leaves”

Essentially they can grow almost on rocks and unfortunately the “neighbor” was my St. John’s Wort.  The picture shows the epic battle between the two plants.  The crown vetch would have won years ago had I and others not spent time “weeding” the plant each spring as I did this past weekend (this is the before photograph).  It would make my job much easier to grab a little (or big) bottle of Round Up and kill the vetch, but it is not my property and I do enjoy yanking the devils out of the ground.  Okay I don’t enjoy weeding, but pulling vetch is fairly easy and can be cathartic.  As you look at the slope you can see that the St. John’s Wort, now that is has had a few years to grow, is more or less holding its own.

It was a fairly cool day and I got to thinking as I yanked and pulled about how landscaping can be like life…

  • Quick fixes are expensive
  • There’s always someone ready to pitch in with a quick fix
  • Quick fixes that are less expensive can give you long-term results that you don’t want
  • Fixing quick fixes can take a long time
  • Fixing quick fixes can take a lot of work
  • Persistence can pay off, but it takes persistence, but it can pay off, but it takes persistence

Perhaps it was fitting that the plant that I have been stressing to “save” is St. John’s Wort which is widely considered a natural cure for depression.  I cannot eat it though lest the evil vetch take over.

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