Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stress is good?

I know it doesn't make sense to say that stress is good, but it might help native plants grow a bit more like they do in nature. Earlier this year I wailed and moaned over the destruction wrought by the dreaded voles, tunneling and gobbling up many plants. They really did eat a lot of stuff.

But then I started to notice that some of the plants they ate came back later, and had spread out into much more natural-looking plantings. These gallardia whose dirges I had sung but a few months ago started coming up around the end of July. The voles had eaten the mother plant but spread roots and seeds around.

Same thing with this lupine. There was a plant, now gone, in the middle of these, but earlier this summer a bunch of small lupines sprouted up around the original vole excavation. The bloom is over, sorry...

So, I have these two pretty large "creeping" Oregon grape (Berberis repens) shrubs that I planted fifteen years ago. The joke is that these monsters had no intention of creeping anywhere; they were fat and happy right where they were. Here is one of them.

For several years I kept looking at these, thinking that they looked like mutants. Then, last year I got the idea that maybe they needed to be stressed, kind-of like what happened to the gallardia and lupines. So, well, I mowed one. Just to see what would happen. Ran the big ol' DR Field and Brush mower right into the thing. And now, a year later, it has begun to creep! The green around the base there are little runners shooting out.

That other monster, above, had better watch out--I finished mowing the epilobium cloud today...

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