In the quiet of a late winter morning, a battalion of height-fearless commandoes, equipped with chainsaws, brush cutters, and chippers, descended upon our neighborhood. They had been directed by Tennessee Gas to eradicate any plant growing within 35 feet of their pipeline, a gas line that begins at the Gulf of Mexico, meanders through the south, up the east coast, through our front yard and on through New England. They gathered on our property and carefully measured out their 35 foot swath, then carved away all trees, limbs, and undergrowth ‘infringing’ on their pipeline. This is their practice every ten years. A helicopter frequently patrols the line, a God-like eye from above, following it’s broad path. Mile after mile, it’s goal is to insure all is safe, and no one is for instance: digging a foundation for a house upon the liquid gas and blowing us all to kingdom come.
Eventually, the men with their chainsaw arsenal, continued the onslaught to the east, and peace returned to our street. Surveying the raw clearing, we considered how we could take advantage of this free work to implement an improvement plan. This area has been off limits for landscaping because of the pipeline and wetland regulations, and the invasive phragmites, poison ivy and grapevine have created a weed wonderland.
We decided to start with a clean slate…we cleared everything.
I know I’ve told you before that I’m married to a genius and a brilliant problem solver. This plot of land is crude, with rocks and dips, and decades of weed seeds waiting to reclaim the land.
Just in time for spring planting, JJ had 20 pounds of native grass and wildflower seeds delivered to our front door.
With buckets of hope and seed, we traversed the barren land, letting the seed sift through our fingers, our winter weary minds not imagining how radically the space could be transformed. The seed contained an astonishing nineteen species of native flowers and grasses.
My, my…. summer has only just begun, and look what has sprung up!
Each flower is heartbreakingly beautiful. The meadow is alight with honey bees, insects and butterflies. It has been transformed into the most exciting part of our yard.
We’ve been charmed on a daily basis, starry-eyed. Weekends became time for weeding out our former foes before they gained a foothold amongst the wildflowers.
Last weekend, we were concerned with a strange and fragile vine that was threading it’s way through a portion of the meadow. It looked like a thin yellow fishing line, weaving through the plants and tying a stranglehold on them as it cast a net over a dazzling array of fragile beauties.
I contacted our local Audubon, where I met Andy, their resident meadow expert and described what was happening. He told me it was a parasitic plant called Dodder, and that we had to stop it before it bore seed, at which point we would have an epidemic. We had to cut the infested area down, three- quarters of the flowers and remove them.
How often does life remind us that paradise is not here on earth. Darn, for a while I thought we were walking in the Garden of Eden.
Next year, we will sow the seed again, armed with the wisdom to watch closely for the enemy, and eliminate it early.