Monster plants

I discovered that patience is important, and that it is often a bad idea to buy something that promises to put on six feet of growth in the time it takes to blink. There are some climbers that I really shouldn't have planted in such a small space. The Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper) was in a half barrel, and it moved with us. Now it's almost hidden the shed in my current garden, and I can't imagine what would have happened if I'd left it behind in that tiny yard.

Nothing, however, compared to the Polygonum baldschuanicum (Mile-a-Minute) which I obviously chose to ignore the common name of, and planted anyway.

After planting many things in a range of containers, I finally got around to breaking a small hole in the concrete, and found not soil but layers of rubble, soot, and clay. It took a whole afternoon's hard graft to excavate a hole large enough to plant anything in. I filled it with bought-in compost and planted the Mile-a-Minute vine.

At first manageable, and providing a pleasant screen between ourselves and our neighbours, the following summer it had quadrupled in size and was attacking next door's washing line, in danger of creeping in through their back door. This caused some antagonism, and I spent hours cutting it back, only to watch it resume its place within weeks. 

Finally, during the winter, when it had died back and wasn't looking, I attacked it from the bottom with a saw. It was very firmly entrenched and perfectly happy. I felt bad. Sawing through its tree-like roots made me realise that when buying plants it is very important to think ahead.

Memories of green, and growing

Its some years now since I planted up that small yard. I revisited the street where we used to live, and walked along the back lane behind our old house and that first yard garden. I saw many yards with greenery hanging over the back and side walls, and imagined all those tiny secret gardens behind the walls that hid them from my view. The small variegated ivy I'd planted was still there, and had formed a bright curtain of foliage over the end wall.

My yard garden is remembered with real happiness as the first place I planted up. The plants exuberantly covered what was previously a rather desolate-looking view of brick and concrete. It looked better than I ever hoped it would, despite all that shade, and the lack of natural predators to control the pests. Most importantly, it was my own small contribution to creating a better environment. It fulfilled the need we all have to have things growing around us. Any street in any town looks better with greenery - it is a symbolic statement of how we feel about where we live.

Many of the yard garden's plants in containers came with us to our current garden. The hostas, for example, now stand in the area nearest the house, which I call Kitchen Corner. I have a bit more space to plant up now, but it's still a small garden. That first one showed me that it doesn't matter how small the space is - what's important is that within it there's something growing.

Truly tiny gardens: 1 | 2
Parthenocissus quinquefolia: a rampant thing

Parthenocissus quinquefolia: a rampant thing.

Spike and Leaps, as kittens, investigate the Mile-a-Minute vine

Spike and Leaps, as kittens, investigate the Mile-a-Minute vine.