Unnatural selection

No more Ms. Nice Woman.

Time to dig up the invasive early spring plant that I thought for years was the Oregon native Marsh Marigold. (Live and learn, thanks to my brilliant blog readers–see the discussion at the end of this post.) The celandine has been spreading voraciously, and setting up colonies in very distant beds, but the coffee break is over for this rude plant.

Like chopping wood, it warms one to dig. Too warm. Jacket tossed. Boots caked with mud. Thank heaven I didn’t have to work alone–

Max digs

I took out the Lesser Celandine plants and the maybe 4 inches of soil attached to their roots. We were pretty thorough, but I’m sure some of the little root bulbs escaped and will be back, this year or next.

Max digging

This is when a terrier is just so essential.

wheel barrow
I wanted to get these plants off my property entirely. But there were four heavy, wet wheel-barrow loads like this so no.

Instead I have created a Lesser Celandine grave barrow. I will cover this hill and make certain it keeps to itself, even as I add future evil celandine sprouts to it. It will eventually become a pile of soil, but I won’t be spreading it on any garden beds. (I hope it isn’t haunted.)

Max required an immediate bath.

Max needs a bath

In related news, the havoc in the greenhouse (see previous post) was indeed perpetrated by mice. After chewing on the clematis cuttings, the next night they thoroughly dug up a whole flat of newly seeded pots–eating the seeds. I have since convinced the mice to leave (do not ask) and seeds have arrived in the mail, so today I  plant a bunch of  new stuff in the greenhouse. Yippee!

P.S. If this all seemed too destructive please go back to my therapy post, thoughtfully provided for readers’ mental and emotional renewal.

P.P.S. Kininvie is back so now he can finish the seduction scene I very generously began for him at the Uncanny Death romance novel–I mean murder mystery.


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in actual plants, greenhouse gardening, Max the Westie and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Unnatural selection

  1. Haha, Celandine may have been the topic but for me Max is always the STAR! Lovely lovely:~)

  2. Bridget Foy says:

    I agree with Foxglove Lane, Max stole the show on this one. That pic is just so cute! Hope your hard work solves the Celandine problem. I too had an outdoor day today too. Well it was sort of outdoors…rained all day so I worked in the polytunnel.

  3. Aimee says:

    Good grief – Max looks like some street urchin out of a Dickens novel! Glad he was able to help you get to the root of the problem. Oh yes, I said it. 😉 4 Wheelbarrows-full? Yikes. Too bad you can’t burn it all…one big Lesser Celandine pyre. (I can hear Tilly cackling.) Bravo for tackling this task. Hopefully there won’t be too many survivors. And good luck with round two of the greenhouse seeds.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Aimee
      It turns out mice aren’t thorough and some of the mouse-tilled seeds are actually coming up too. (I didn’t have the heart to just dump out those pots.) I like bonfires, but the Celandine is a big wet hill, pretty much fireproof.

  4. Holleygarden says:

    What a great garden helper you have! You could probably rent him out! I’d love some help in digging up some Bermuda grass! 😉

    • linniew says:

      I think Max feels I’m after some rodent when I start digging. He sticks his face into every hole to sniff it out, then he digs too.

      So you think Rent-A-Terrier has business potential? hmm

  5. b-a-g says:

    Linnie – Not sure that I understand the concept of the grave barrow. Wont the soil contain its spawn ?

    • linniew says:

      That is the issue, b-a-g. It is a hill of both Celandine and Celandine potential. Under black plastic. It will get full sun all summer, and I hope cook as compost. I will report back on the outcome of this frighteningly risky war maneuver.

  6. Spectra says:

    HA! I was just going to suggest covering it with black plastic, but you were may steps ahead of me. You’ll end up with a nice pile of compost, and save all of that soil. Also, was gona suggest leaving food for the mice so they would leave your plants alone – but seems as though your solution…uh…went in another direction.

    Max is sexy. Can I get an autographed photo of him?

    • linniew says:

      Hi ya Spectra!
      I think if I left out food for the mice I would also need to leave out birth control pills, if you know what I mean.

      Still working on teaching Max to write. When he gets it down YOU will be the first to receive his autographed glossy image!

  7. Linnie, you always make me laugh!! Thanks for that 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Christine I am a very serious writer here, with lots of serious writing going on, so I have no idea what you are talking about. Still, I’m happy to make you happy. xo L

  8. Feeling guilty for having contributed to the identification of these culprits, I’m wondering if spreading clear plastic over a shallow layer of the tainted soil might solarize the soil and kill all lingering spawn of evil?

    • You need to leave it for weeks during the warmest weather so the rays of the sun can heat everything up to killing temperatures.

    • linniew says:

      Well I’m hoping for that effect in the grave barrow, with sun and composting. Perhaps I should use clear plastic… The plants were growing in shade, so it wouldn’t have worked there. I do like keeping them all piled up together and I’m sure the hill will shrink as time passes. You have no guilt Peggy, but rather my appreciation.

  9. I love the way Max poses for the camera even when covered with mud. I’m sure you feel better for having dug out all these celandines but they will return even for a short while….

  10. Claudia says:

    I’m working on the celandine and ‘marsh marigold’ too. I really like the plastic hill idea. Any way that works and not have to tote tons of muddy roots is a plus. Thanks for sharing – and give your little guy Max a treat. He earned it.

    • linniew says:

      Welcome Claudia!
      If the plastic hill doesn’t get rid of the celadine I will go to Plan B, which has something to do with explosives I think. Still working out the details. I will give Max a bite of cheese for you– food of the gods in his book.

  11. cynthia says:

    I have pictures of my children, covered in mud, looking at me exactly as Max is looking at you. You cannot help but laugh!

  12. Grace says:

    Glad to see your partner in crime is back. Hope all is well. Your little Terrier had a blast didn’t he? Here’s hoping all your muscle and elbow grease pay off on OCE: Operation Celandine Eradication.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Gracie!
      Yes Max is on garden duty.
      I just noticed yesterday was garden bloggers bloom day, with everyone showing images of their flowers– A muddy wheelbarrow is sort of like a flower…Well okay it isn’t. Some of the uprooted celandine had buds, does that count?

  13. Fay says:

    Two things. Is max finally reverting to a proper muddy inspired colour for a terrier? peedie is pleased.

    Baked celendine, inspired. Will we be having a cookalongalinnie feature of this sure to be delight?

    Hope you and max had separate baths after.

    • linniew says:

      Oh Fay, where to begin?? In truth Max is Peedie-colored maybe 60% of the time. (He aspires to it 100% of the time.)

      Yes baked celandine is what I’m cooking. It’s a fairly long-term project so the samples won’t be going out until about August. This gives us plenty of time to come up with dips and sauces and you know I’m counting on you for recipes.

      As to the baths, we were both about the same amount muddy and the drain can only take so much so yes, separate baths were required.

  14. Catherine says:

    I like that you have a helpful dog, mine on the other hand is constantly escaping while I’m gardening and I have to run down the street after her. Grave barrow is a new gardening term that I plan to use! 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Just yesterday I was parked in front of a restaurant with one of those big landscaper-contrived mounds of grass by the door. I couldn’t help thinking how locating a burial mound just outside a restaurant might not be good for business.

  15. I have a Max too but his name is Reggie. What special little animals these terriers are! Reggie is inquisitive about everything, thankfully he doesn’t eat everything he sniffs.


    • linniew says:

      Hi Eileen
      Nice to meet someone else who deals with Westies and petunias too! Max only eats what falls in the kitchen, including raw carrots and uncooked pasta –and he’s always hoping for bits of cheese.

  16. I am so glad you did this and took the surrounding soil away too. You won’t regret it and now you will never experience having your entire garden taken over by lesser celandine. I would have put it in trash bags for collection no matter how much there was. Those little bulbs never die. I think they were sent here by aliens.

    • linniew says:

      Doing my best to eradicate alien bulbs. They look watery so heat should slow them down a little. If they are rescued by the mother ship well that will be interesting and get rid of them at the same time. If I’m abducted I will call you on my cell phone Carolyn and expect rescue so get a pilot’s license going if you don’t already have one.

  17. Roberta says:

    It looks like some new garden real estate has opened up for you. What will you replace the devil weed with? Will you have to let it lay fallow for awhile? I wish I could help you with that grave barrow. A summer in the Central Texas heat can kill anything. It would be nothing but a mass of shriveled husk by fall.

    • linniew says:

      I’m afraid to plant anything for a couple of seasons because I know there will be stragglers and maybe even major seed germination. I certainly wish I could transport the toxic plants to you for that Texas branding thing that summer does down your way!

  18. Oh, Linnie! How cute is Max? He surely earned his bath.

    I am trying to determine from your pictures if celandine is the “devil weed” taking over some of my beds. I thought I had eradicated my weed years ago but now it’s back. I am considering the use of vinegar to poison it this time or perhaps boiling water to kill its roots. Whatever the weed is, the roots are very deep; it is encroaching on my desirable plants.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Debra-
      The celandine has lovely buttercup type blooms in early spring. Lots of them. So if your weed doesn’t bloom yellow, then no. Also the roots are not so long, maybe three or four inches, all fibrous and full of soil. I hope you don’t have it. Still, “devil weed” doesn’t sound fun.

  19. Alberto says:

    That’s the Linnie I know! dig up and get rid of those weeds! Max has been a good help, hasn’t he? 🙂 So you are waiting a few months now before planting anything… I would not resist! How’s the end of winter going around there? I am still grounded home by the cold and I want to see some bulbs in flower instead…

  20. Alistair says:

    Its true Max did steal the show. However your Celandine looks all in all bigger and more robust than mine. Now it may just be that everything is bigger in the states, (well that’s what we were told growing up in the 50s) Our neat growing Celandine makes for a very nice woodland plant, would you like some.

  21. Eric says:

    For anyone trying to figure out if they too are plagued by this “devil weed”, a.k.a. lesser celandine, I think the botanical name for it is Ranunculus ficaria. Now there’s a nice weed, a.k.a. a wildflower often called Celandine poppy or wood poppy, which is quite desirable. It’s botanical name is Stylophorum diphyllum.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Eric
      I was given this plant as Caltha palustris, an Oregon native wildflower that is usually pretty well-behaved and does also resemble the weed quite a lot. The Celandine poppy looks lovely in photographs and gives the Lesser Celandine another cover persona. Nice plants should carry Garden Permits maybe.

  22. Roberta says:

    This post makes me wonder why the things I want most refuse to self-propagate: artichokes, brussels sprouts, ancho peppers, spinach, etc. Yes, I know, strawberries make runners but I am that one person out there who’s not so crazy about that particular berry. Instead I have henbit and burrs taking over the idle beds.

  23. Pingback: Dissent in fairyland? | Gardening At The Edge

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