18 July 2011

When Flowers Aren't Friends

For the most part, I've got nothing against flowers.  I admire the innumerable colors, shapes and textures of flowers that exist in this small part of the world.  Personally, I have an affinity for purple irises--the ones that smell like grapes, NOT the deep purple and white ones that have the stench of black licorice (my baby brother says that's the devil's candy, but that's another story).  I love it when Jack brings me bouquet upon bouquet of wildflowers from the ditch in part because they were free (one of my favorite words!) but also because it's a gentle reminder of the simple beauties of nature.
Occasionally though, I've found that nature isn't always cottontail bunnies and monarch butterflies.  Or in this case, cosmos and Johnny jump-up flowers.  To date, we've had chicory, bachelor buttons, hollyhocks, gloriosa daisies, morning glories . . . you get the idea.  Lots of wildflowers (In case anyone else likes knowing relatively useless but interesting information, assuming you're not a botanist or something where information like this may in fact be pertinent, check out Wildflower Information here if you're wanting to identify your own wildflowers).
Some of the wildflowers grow in the pasture, which I don't mind so much except the horses don't eat them.  I'm not going to argue with my pets about what they should and shouldn't be foraging but those innocent looking flowers can compete with the grass if they become too abundant.  Maybe keeping the flower population in check is the real reason Jack brings me fistfuls of wildflowers . . . Oh, well!  They're so pretty!
I love this guy.  With his droopy little petals, he looks like a cute puppy with his tail tucked.  I just hope he's not planning on biting me.
Okay, okay, so wildflowers aren't all that dangerous as long as a horse doesn't decide to chew on one that might be poisonous.  And as long as they don't choke out my precious grass, then I suppose they can stay.
There is one though that I do not tolerate on my property (I sound so commanding, but honestly, the plant probably has an upper-hand seeing as after nearly four years of living here, I still find plenty of them around).
"What a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l, vibrant purplish pink flower!  And what an interesting shape!" you say . . .
"But what are those awful, thorny, pokey leaves?" you begin to wonder . . .
None other than a two foot bull thistle!

These things don't even pretend to play nice.  Everything about them is painful and uninviting.  If they weren't already a nuisance enough, they're practically hydras--you know, the mythical creature that when one head was cut off, it gained two?  Yeah, these thistles are just as awful.  I've found some that I thought I had taken care of but were hanging on by a few precious fibers.  They were growing again like it was a flesh wound!
It had to go.  Out came the machete, down went the plant.  I win.  Once you know their secret weakness, it's a lot easier to defeat the beast, assuming you are diligent.  They are annuals so if you prevent them from seeding and spawning a new generation of evil, that plant won't be passing on its genes.  If I sound a bit harsh, forgive me but if you've ever tumbled into a thistle, you're well aware that not all flowers are friends.

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